chicken meatballs in spicy tomato sauce

May 21, 2015 § 57 Comments

IMG_0793 My plan for dinner on this particular evening was to make chicken meatballs, Italian style with garlic, onion, parmesan, parsley, egg and breadcrumbs, but I couldn’t get past my craving for spicy Indian flavors.   Rather than a complete dinner makeover I decided to stick with the meatball plan and change up the ingredients to include chili powder, cumin, coriander, garam masala and a jalapeño pepper. DSCN3566 We have been discovering some interesting substitutes for glutinous ingredients and dry roasting 1/4 cup of quinoa on your stovetop and whizzing it in your spice blender or food processor will create quinoa flour and it can be used to bind your meatball’s together without using breadcrumbs. DSCN3570 Simple clean ingredients include organic free range chicken, one egg, chili powder, cumin, coriander, garam masala, onion, cilantro, quinoa flour, ginger, garlic, jalapeño and a generous amount of salt.  Most meatball recipes call for browning them in a pan and then finishing them in the oven.  I only baked them. It’s great to just put them in the oven and walk away.  Clean-up is also very easy, thanks to the parchment paper on the sheet pan. DSCN3573 The resulting meatballs have a touch of jalapeño heat and exude a wonderfully spiced fragrance. IMG_0793 After the meatballs are nicely brown and cooked they are simmered in a spicy tomato sauce.  Simmer them just long enough to absorb the sauce so they will become even more flavorful and juicy.  They would be delicious with couscous, or stuffed in pita with chopped cucumber and plain yogurt or even just stacked on rice with a cool salad on the side. This recipe is inspired from several online recipes for spicy Indian style meatballs.

For the meatballs:

  • 1-1.5 pounds lean cut ground chicken (you can use lamb/turkey too)
  • 1 medium onions – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger – minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic – minced
  • 1 cup cilantro – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder ( I used spicy Kashmiri chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 jalapeno pepper – chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup powdered quinoa (dry roast and grind them to a coarse powder)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste
For the sauce:
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onions – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger – minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic – minced
  • 1-28 ounce can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro to garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Place the ground chicken in a large bowl and add the onions, ginger, garlic, jalapeño, spices, cilantro and salt, mix well to combine. Add the beaten eggs, oil and quinoa.  Mix well using your hands. Roll into balls and place them on a parchment lined baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes until they turn golden brown on the outside. Remove and let them rest.

While the meatballs are baking make the sauce.
Heat oil in a large pot.  Add the onions and little salt and allow them to cook until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and add the spices and cook for 20 minutes.  If sauce is too thick add a little hot water to thin. Add cilantro and baked meat balls. Simmer for another 10 minutes allowing the meatballs to absorb the sauce.

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§ 57 Responses to chicken meatballs in spicy tomato sauce

  • Diane says:

    Meatballs with garam masala sounds
    delicious. This is a recipe I’ve got to try. Thanks for sharing.

  • Loretta says:

    What a brilliant idea, I too add Indian spices to an otherwise blander recipe. Yours looks very appetizing.

    • Thank you Loretta. I have only been cooking with Indian spices for a little over a year now and I can’t seem to get enough. I love the way the whole house smells when something of this sort is simmering on the stove. Very appetizing. :)

  • Joanne says:

    Sounds wonderful – great tip about the quinoa also – thank you! :)

    • I was pleased to hear about using quinoa in place of breadcrumbs. It worked beautifully. And the toasted quinoa smelled wonderful too! :)

      • Joanne says:

        I’m going to try this quinoa in the coming weeks and not say a word. I’ll be curious to hear if they taste any difference. Sadly I’m still in search of quinoa pasta though… one day!

      • I’d really like to hear the results! Please, let me know if you do it. :) Shoot, hope you find the quinoa pasta…trying to remember where you live, or if I ever knew where you live?

      • Joanne says:

        I’ll definitely let you know the results of my “kitchen experiment”. And as for where I live, I’m at the end of the road in BC, Canada hence supplies here are a tad limited. However I’ll be in Vancouver next month catching up with my old friend Bette (Midler) so hopefully will have a chance to look around then… hopefully!!!

      • wha? :) Seriously Bette Midler? Awesome. If not let me know…I’ll send you some!

      • Joanne says:

        Yes, BETTE MIDLER – THIRD ROW (third row of just what I can’t quite determine but that’s by-the-by). I’ll definitely check-out Vancouver for pasta and shall let you know, if not, I might just take you up on that offer! :)

  • Oh these sound so flavorful and fragrant! Love the quinoa idea. Never have the flour on hand but always have the grain. Brilliant! I realized I seldom made meatballs because of the frying them first and having them break apart. I bake them too and it doesn’t take any of the flavor away. Will make these soon.

    • Good! Hope you give it a try. They turned out beautifully and fragrant is spot on for describing these meatballs! I know what you mean about the meatballs breaking apart in the skillet. I try to just give the pan a little jiggle and they turn without using a spatula. But it can be really messy with the spattering and whatnot. Baking them worked out great!

  • ladyredspecs says:

    Thanks for the tip with the quinoia! When serving meatballs in sauce, I prefer to gently poach them straight in the sauce. They stay soft and the sauce takes on the delicious juices that ooze from the meat. I haven’t made meatballs in ages, thanks for the inspiration!

    • I do the same Sandra. And you are right the sauce really does well with that extra bit of fat from the meatballs. So tasty. For some reason I am on a meatball kick! Something very therapeutic for me in mixing it with my hands and rolling them into little balls. :) Not that I need therapy or anything….

  • Great tip on the quinoa, toasting it would make it even better. Love meatballs and these sound delicious!

  • So, does the quinoa act as a binder when moist? Rather like using ground flaxseed/linseed. I still get palpitations every time I check the price of a pack of quinoa! Because of that I never buy it for myself.
    I’m with you on needing spices right now. Made a quick and tasty kidney bean dish tonight using just ground spices (onions and toms). Really hit the right spot. And I bet your meatballs did the same.

    • I’ve heard quinoa can be terribly expensive in other parts of the country. There are growers over here in the states working hard on making quinoa more plentiful and available and hopefully bring the price down. I have found quinoa in the stores from the US and right now it priced quite high. I buy it in bulk and it’s not too terribly pricey. My latest obsession is pie dough. I am determined to turn out a good crust. In the last three attempts only one has been successful. :/ We’ll see…

      • Are you talking flaky? How do you guys call it? Pastry for pies where you keep the butter pea sized. We don’t really do that pastry here as the flour is softer (less gluten and protein, if I remember right). I might have a handy tip for you, something I almost did by accident. Turns out really well!

      • Yes, pea sized and actually I have one in the refrigerator chilling (overnight) right now. Made with rye flour and 1/2 of the butter was pea sized and the other half lima bean size. What’s your tip?! Please, I must know! :)

      • You’re on the right track. Purely by accident I ended up using half the amount of butter at room temp, as I’d forgotten I’d wanted to use all chilled. With the first half I ended up blending until breadcrumbs. Then, as I couldn’t really be bothered with doing the same with the chilled butter I left in in quite large lumps. And ended up with a really nice pastry. I only ever use a pastry blender as I have so little space to work within. Anyway, have no idea how it might work if you tried it as your flour is harder. And I think I’ve read that technique somewhere since then. I found it really easy to work with. Here, we only ever do shortcrust (because of the differences in flour) so I can’t compare how flaky mine actually was. I’d make it again.

  • davegon says:

    Oh, these look amazing! Dare I say, amaze-balls!? I love the combination you have with the spices here. :)

  • Grace says:

    This looks SO good! But alas a lot of work. Bet they were finished quickly

    • Hi Grace. Perhaps meatballs are the kind of food the more you make them the easier they are to prepare. I find they go together quite easy and they are one of my favorite things to make. And you right, they didn’t last long! :)

      • Grace says:

        I guess that’s it with everything – it just takes practice! My meatballs took a long time to assemble in the past so it’s put me off from making them from scratch again, though I know it’s much better to from nutrition to taste to budget (for quality meatballs)! Regardless, yours look delicious :)

  • These look amazing. I love the use of indian spices and jalapeño. What a great twist on a classic. You eat just like i do. You inspired me to use my zucchini device again too! Xo hope you’re well.

    • Thank you Amanda. Glad to hear you are using your zucchini spiral tool again! I just saw on Chef Mimi’s blog how she used one and spiralized cooked beets. Very cool. Great recipe too. So nice to see you here, thank you for stopping in, always great to hear from you and hope you are well too! :)

  • I’m alway up for a new take on meatballs Seana! Love your use of aromatic Indian spices in these… A big bowl of meatball happiness, in my opinion! :)

    • Me too! I seem to get stuck on auto pilot and make the same meatballs over and again. It was a nice change-up to season them differently. Sometimes I guess it’s good to step out and try something differently even though it’s a Wednesday evening and you just want to get dinner on the table. :)

  • Love these meatballs – a great option to tempt me from my Italian version. And great tip on the quinoa > quinoa flour using a food processor – last time I tried psyllium husk as a breadcrumb alternative and it seemed to work well too…..

    • I’ve heard of using psyllium husk as a binder and yet to try. Actually I don’t even have psyllium husk in the cupboard come to think of it. Isn’t it nice to know there are alternatives to gluten and to be able to get the same results? It’s unimaginable how much gluten is a part of our food supply. And yet…it’s unnecessary! It’s good to have some awareness…

  • Karinna says:

    Great recipe. I never really make meatballs these days but have seen such tasty recipes over the months from yourself and Amanda and other bloggers that I really should try some of them out!

    • I think of Amanda’s meatballs often! I love her sweet and sour meatballs and have made them a couple of times. I even created a post about them…that’s how much I love them. Meatballs are fabulous and with now a days the quality of meat you can find minced is fantastic. :)

  • Karen says:

    I love the idea of Indian spices in the meatballs, I’m sure I would really enjoy them.

    • Yes, it really is a nice way to season meatballs Karen. I’m so used to Italian style meatballs, or sweet and sour. Nice to change it up a bit and try something spicy and aromatic like this. Thank you for visiting!

  • Cat says:

    Hi! This recipes sounds fantastic! And look awesome! You had a great idea no using Indian spices and thanks for sharing. I’m Italian, and usually I do the classic spaghetti with meatballs and sauce, but I’ll try to do spaghetti with your recipe! I can wait to hear what my family will say. :)

    • For some reason I’m a bit nervous for you to try these on your family! :) well, they are so different than a typical Italian meatball and it could be surprising with the spiciness of both the jalapeño and the Indian spices. We didn’t have spaghetti with this, just a little rice, cucumber and plain yogurt. I would be interested to know if you make them and what type of reaction you receive from your family! Thank you for your comment and for stopping in. :)

  • nancyc says:

    I love meatballs, but have never made them with chicken–sounds like a great idea!

    • We really like using chicken for meatballs. Very lean and light. I buy dark meat, but you could try to go even leaner and buy ground chicken breast. It’s delicious and tender!

  • Very nice spicy balls! Me likey 😜

  • Lilly Sue says:

    Yum! I haven’t had meatballs in a while- I think I need to make some soon! :)

  • Great tip on the quinoa flour and I love the garam masala in the sauce… tasty:)

  • Absolutely love this Seana. Genius about the quinoa flour and I’ll give it a go. Love the comments – especially the you must make these meatballs. I will. I will. I will make these meatballs. xo

    • Lindy! It’s great we are not gluten intolerant but finding ways to cut down on it has been a life change. We are feeling much lighter and digestion is a breeze. (Never thought I would say that!) I don’t miss the breadcrumbs in the meatballs, but I would miss having nice baguette here and there or a scone with a nice slather of your rhubarb jam. Picking our gluten battles. :)

  • Oooh this looks so lovely! I had a friend recently send me some garam masala, so this would be a good candidate to try it out. Your recipes are always so inspiring, Seana!

    • You are always so kind. :) What a good friend sending you garam masala! I can’t wait to see what you do with it. It’s such a beautiful spice combination. Haven’t seen a post from you in awhile. Hope your trip was good and I’ll stop by to see what you’re cooking…

      • Thanks Seana. I had a great trip to our RV property at the coast. No cell or internet service there, hence no new food posts lately. I’m hoping I can get something up before next weekend, but if not, it’s good to know I’ve been missed! :)

  • First, the meatballs look absolutely delectable. I am pleasantly delighted with the ingredients, addition of Indian spices and quinoa instead of breadcrumbs.

    • Fae, thank you so much for stopping in and visiting so many of my posts today! It was such a nice surprise to see your presence here. Regarding the quinoa pasta, if you decide to give it a try, in my opinion, I really enjoy the quinoa and brown rice blend much more than the quinoa and corn blend. It’s a matter of fact I tossed (in the compost)a whole pot full of the quinoa/corn blend because I really didn’t care for both the texture and taste. It seemed to be very starchy and gummy. The brown rice/quinoa blend is much better. :)

  • I love the quinoa idea! It’s expensive here but even though I’m “frugal” I think some things are just important enough to pay a little more for. Quinoa is one, good olive oil another!

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