Meatball Curry

Here is my recipe for meatball curry and it has always been a hit. Most recipes I've come across for meatball curry call for egg and breadcrumbs to be used as the binding agents, but I prefer to use a small amount of gram flour instead because I think it gives the meatballs a much better consistency. It can be served with either plain boiled rice or chips.

Meatball Curry
Meatball Curry

Some recipes for meatballs call for ingredients such as finely chopped onion, garlic and ginger to be added. However, I think the more things you add to them the more you can take away. The key is to balance the flavour of the meatballs with the flavour of the sauce. If the meatballs contain more flavours than the sauce, or vice versa, then it tends to throw the dish out of whack. For that reason, I think they work best with just a few spices, some fresh chilli for an added kick and a small amount of chopped fresh coriander, which is always optional.

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 teaspoons gram flour
  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 2–4 fresh finger chillies (red or green), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander (optional)


  1. Place the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and coarse sea salt into an electric coffee grinder and grind until fine. Add the garam masala, chilli powder, ground ginger, turmeric and gram flour and pulse a few more times until everything is well mixed.

  2. Place the minced beef into a food processor, along with the ground spice mixture, fresh finger chillies and fresh coriander (if using). Process everything into a paste-like consistency.

  3. Take a sufficient amount of the mixture and form it into a ball of approximately 1.5-inches in diameter. Place onto a clean plate and repeat the same process until all of the mixture has been used. You should end up with between 18–20 meatballs in total. Don't worry about them being small because they'll swell slightly once cooked.

  4. Cover and set aside.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 4 green cardamoms, cracked
  • 4 cloves
  • 1-inch piece cassia bark
  • 400g finely diced white onion
  • 3–4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons (200g) blended chopped tinned tomato
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 450ml hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoons kasoori methi
  • 2–4 fresh finger chillies (red or green), sliced into thin rings


  1. Place the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds into an electric coffee grinder and grind until fine. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, paprika and garam masala and pulse a few more times until everything is well mixed. Set aside.

  2. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and add the green cardamoms, cloves and cassia bark. Allow the spices to sizzle for about 30 seconds until they become fragrant.

  3. Add the onion, mix well and fry for about 8–10 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking, until soft and translucent.

  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, ginger and salt. Mix well and continue to fry for a further 30–40 minutes or until the mixture turns golden brown.

  5. Once the onion mixture has turned golden brown add the ground spices and mix well to ensure they are incorporated into the oil. Next, add the blended chopped tinned tomato and mix again. Fry the mixture for 8–10 minutes, stirring often, until it turns a few shades darker and the oil starts to separate. When the oil separates this means the spices are cooked.

  6. Stir in the tomato puree.

  7. Add the hot water, kasoori methi and fresh finger chillies. Mix well and bring to a steady simmer over medium heat.

  8. Add the meatballs and ensure that each one is submerged in the sauce. Lightly shake the pot and as soon as the sauce begins simmering again, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes. To prevent breaking any meatballs it's best not to stir the sauce for about 10 minutes after adding them to the pot. Just give the pot a light shake if necessary.

  9. Stir gently, cover the pot and then place into a preheated oven at 200C/400F/Gas 6 and cook for 1 hour.


  • The temperatures listed in this recipe are for standard ovens and not fan assisted or convection ovens. Typically, when cooking with a fan assisted oven one would reduce the temperature by 20C/50F, but given how ovens do vary slightly I'll leave it up to you to decide. After all, you know your oven much better than I do.

  • Always use low fat mince when making this; otherwise you'll end up with smaller meatballs than was intended and excessive fat in the curry sauce.

  • If you don't own a food processor you can just mix all of the meatball ingredients by hand. However, make sure that you mix everything thoroughly. The mixture should have a paste-like consistency.

  • For those of you who don't know, gram flour, also known as 'besan', is made from ground chickpeas or Bengal gram and can be found at most good supermarkets or Indian grocery stores. This is the type of flour that's used to make pakora. It has to be gram flour though. Plain flour used for baking will not work.

  • The best chillies to use in this curry are Capsicum annuum or Capsicum frutescens varieties.

  • You can give this curry an added chilli flavour by stirring in one or two thinly sliced fresh chillies (red or green) at the end of the cooking process.

  • Always use the best quality minced beef that you can afford. Meatball curry made with poor quality mince will always have an inferior flavour.