Based on fresh lamb sausage mixture called ‘merguez’ that is popular in Europe and North Africa, these meatballs feature the warm kick of harissa, an easy seasoning to find in herb and spice shops. It’s worth adding and specific, but as a substitution, add a little extra cayenne pepper to taste.
Recipe for Tomato Dipping Sauce
- 1 pound fresh ground lamb
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger root
- 1 tablespoon spice mix
- 1-2 tablespoon harissa (or cayenne pepper to taste)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- ice water as needed
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, dry toasted
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, dry toasted
1 tablespoon anise seeds, dry toasted
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons turmeric
To make the spice mixture, combine all the ingredients and grind finely using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Store extra in a glass jar.
To make the meatballs, place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine the ingredients adding ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until combined and the mixture is moist. Chill for one hour or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll tablespoon size portions of the mixture into meatballs and place in a large shallow baking pan. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove cool slightly before serving with Tomato Dipping Sauce.
Note: Dry toasting spice seeds help intensify the flavors. Heat a small pan over moderate heat. Add the seed and toast, stirring constantly until fragrant. Remove from the pan immediately and cool slightly before grinding.
Makes approximately 36 meatballs
Recipe adapted from Cathy Barrow.
Photo by Jodi Miller