Father’s Day Chile-Cumin Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt and Cucumber Salad

For those of you who know me, I am not a traditional cook. Nor do I have a love of cooking. Nor for lamb. Nor for spicy food. But, for Father’s Day, I was very willing to love my husband through one of his love languages: interesting food for what I call his “refined palette”.

lamb meatballs

 By the very fact that my husband gave me at least two “ouuuuuus and ahhhhhhhs” after his first bites, I consider my efforts a glowing success. Did I mention, I even liked these lamb meatballs? I normally find lamb gamey and I don’t handle “spicy” well, but as I said, even I would consider this dish a repeat. Impressive! Yes, I am giving myself a pat on the back.

lamb meat balls

We married this simple dish with garlic naan bread, mojitos and accompanied it with some Jack Johnson nostalgia for atmosphere. Feel free to use the same pairings!

(Word to the wise, if you don’t handle spicy very well, DO NOT taste test the chili sauce! It will burn your lips off until it is perfectly combined with the meatballs, yogurt and cucumber! Also, this recipe did take chopping time due to all herbs, onions and garlic, but was well worth it.)

Chile-Cumin Lamb Meatballs With Yogurt And Cucumber
Serves 4
A spicy lamb dish everyone can enjoy. Although the chili sauce adds some kick, the cucumber and yogurt allow even the most sensitive palate a taste of something they've been missing!
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr
Chile Sauce
  1. 2 serrano chiles, seeds removed, chopped
  2. 1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  3. 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  4. ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  5. 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  6. 1 garlic clove, chopped
  7. ½ cup olive oil
  8. Kosher salt
Meatballs and Cucumber Salad Assembly
  1. ¼ small onion, chopped
  2. 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  3. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  4. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  5. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  6. ¾ teaspoon fennel seeds
  7. ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  8. ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  9. 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  10. 1 large egg
  11. 1¼ pounds ground lamb
  12. 4–5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  13. ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
  14. ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  15. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  16. 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  17. Freshly ground black pepper
  18. ½ cup greek yogurt
  19. ¼ cup chopped fresh mint (for serving)
Chile Sauce
  1. Toast chiles, red pepper flakes, and cumin seeds in a dry small pan over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and cumin seeds are golden, about 3 minutes. Let cool. Working in batches, finely grind in spice mill (or mortar and pestle), then transfer to a blender.
  2. Add vinegar, paprika, and garlic to blender and blend until smooth. With motor running, gradually stream in oil and blend until combined. Transfer to a large bowl; season with salt.
  3. Do Ahead: Chile sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Meatballs And Assembly
  1. Pulse onion, chopped garlic, parsley, oregano, sage, fennel seeds, coriander, cumin, and 1 Tbsp. salt in a food processor, scraping down sides as needed, until finely chopped. Add egg, lamb, and pulse until evenly combined. Form lamb mixture into 1 ½" balls.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet, over medium-high. Working in 2 batches and adding another 1 Tbsp. oil to skillet if needed, cook meatballs, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides and cooked through, 5–8 minutes. Transfer meatballs to paper towels to drain.
  3. Transfer all meatballs to bowl with chile sauce and toss to coat.
  4. Toss cucumber in a medium bowl with lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Spoon yogurt into bowls. Evenly divide meatballs among bowls; top with dressed cucumber and sprinkle with mint.
  6. Do Ahead: Meatball mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Notes
  1. Word to the wise, if you don't handle spicy very well, DO NOT taste test the chili sauce! It will burn your lips off until it is perfectly combined with the meatballs, yogurt and cucumber! Also, this recipe did take chopping time due to herbs, onions and garlic, but was well worth it.
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine
Merry Golden http://www.merrygolden.com/
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