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Lamb meatballs with an indian-spiced tomato sauce

Meatballs:
1 lb. ground lamb
½ lb. ground beef
1 head roasted garlic
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper

Tomato Sauce:
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. black mustard seeds (brown is fine, too)
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tbsp. mild curry powder
2 large cloves garlic
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
Salt to taste

Garnish:
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
¼ cup fresh scallions, finely chopped
1 cup plain yogurt
Enough hot, cooked Basmati rice for 6 portions

Begin tomato sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt. Stir and cook the onions until they are completely soft and beginning to brown. Add the mustard seeds and stir and toast for a minute or two; they may even begin to pop. Next, add the garam masala and the curry powder and stir them into the onion mixture. Cook the onions and spices together about 2 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic a minute or two, then add the can of crushed tomatoes. Stir the mixture to blend then let it simmer gently 25 to 30 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally to prevent scorching. If sauce becomes too thick, a little water can be added. This sauce can also be started several hours ahead of time and finished in a slow cooker on low for two or three hours.

Make meatballs:
While sauce is simmering, mix together the lamb and beef in a large bowl. Remove cloves of garlic from the roasted head, mash with a fork, and add to the meat along with the salt and pepper. Divide the meat into quarters and make 6 small meat balls from each quarter.* Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place the meatballs into the heated pan and brown them on all sides, turning them with tongs as they brown. Check the tomato sauce for seasoning, then add the browned meatballs to the tomato sauce. Simmer them for 20 to 30 minutes or until they are fully cooked inside.

Serve:
Place portions of hot cooked Basmati rice into six large heated rim soup bowls. Ladle four meatballs and some tomato sauce over each bowl of rice. Garnish with a spoonful of yogurt and a sprinkling of herbs. Serve hot. Makes 6 main course portions.

*Chef’s note: These meatballs can also be made a lot smaller and used as an appetizer. Omit the rice and serve with toothpicks or portions of toasted pita bread along with the yogurt and herbs.

Roasted Garlic*

4 heads garlic
salt and pepper
olive oil

Slice the top portion of the garlic heads off with a serrated knife. The tops of most of the cloves inside should be exposed. Place the garlic heads on a large piece of foil. Sprinkle the tops of each garlic head with a little salt and pepper, then drizzle each of them with a little olive oil. Wrap the foil up and over the garlic heads so they are sealed tightly within. Put the garlic package on a baking pan and place it into a preheated 350 degrees F oven. Roast the garlic for approximately one hour, or until it is a nice golden brown color. Do not let the garlic become overly dark, it will become bitter. Remove package from oven and allow to cool. Garlic is now ready for use or freezing. If freezing, put garlic into individual closeable plastic bags.

*(This is a nice recipe to make large quantities of since it’s very little extra work to make enough to freeze!)

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