Recipe of the week: Lamb Meatballs in Curry Sauce

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These lamb meatballs contain grated paneer cheese. Photo from John Valls Photography.

Many home cooks throw Parmesan cheese in the mix when making Italian meatballs, but I’d never thought about doing the same with Indian meatballs until I saw this recipe from the American Lamb Board.

Paneer is a fresh, pressed cheese that I like to sear in a pan and then add it to just about any kind of curry. The uncooked paneer doesn’t have a ton of character on its own, but once you cook it, it soaks up the flavors of whatever you cook or serve it with. (And in my house, sometimes that’s just oil and salt for what tastes like an adult cheese stick.)

These lamb meatballs contain grated paneer cheese. Photo from John Valls Photography.

These lamb meatballs contain grated paneer cheese. Photo from John Valls Photography.

You can substitute queso fresco if you can’t find paneer in your local grocery store. Serve this dish with naan or, in a pinch, warmed tortillas.

Lamb Meatballs in Curry Sauce

1 lb. ground lamb
3/4 cup grated paneer cheese
2/3 cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish, divided
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. minced garlic, divided
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
3 tsp. garam masala, divided
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp. medium chile powder, such as Indian Kashmiri or New Mexican
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 28-oz. canned diced tomatoes, with juices
Steamed basmati rice
Chopped toasted almonds

Preheat the broiler with a rack positioned about 4 inches from the heating element.

In a large bowl, mix together the lamb, paneer, half of the mint, breadcrumbs, egg, 1 tablespoon of the garlic, ginger, 2 teaspoons of the garam masala and 1 teaspoon salt. Roll the mixture into 16 meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Broil the meatballs, turning occasionally, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Heat the butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste and chile powder and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the remaining garlic, turmeric and cumin and cook, stirring often, until the bottom of the pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and 1½ teaspoons salt, and stir to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the meatballs and bring to a simmer. Cook at a gentle simmer until the sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the remaining mint and garam masala. Serve the meatballs and sauce over rice with more mint and almonds to garnish.

— Recipe by Andrea Slonecker for the American Lamb Board

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