Chile Cumin Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt and Cucumber

Posted by Jenni Harris
Mar 1, 2017 3:33:00 PM


Chef Seamus Mullen serves these robustly flavored meatballs as a shared plate at El Colmado, his New York City tapas bar, but they’re also a great main dish. Making the sauce and the meatballs is time-intensive, but we promise the complexity of the flavors is worth it in the end!


Special Equipment:

  • A spice mill or mortar and pestle

Chile Sauce:

  • 3 pasilla chiles, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1.5 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt


  • 1/4 small onion, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, 7 chopped and 1 clove finely grated
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 3/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 large egg
  • 1.25 lb White Oak Pastures Grassfed, Pasture-raised ground lamb
  • 1 tbsp rice flour or all-purpose flour
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 tbsp Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain sheep's milk or cow's whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)



Chile Sauce

  1. Toast chiles, red pepper flakes, and cumin seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and cumin seeds are golden, about 3 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Working in batches, finely grind in spice mill, then transfer to a blender.
  3. Add vinegar, paprika, and garlic to blender and blend until smooth. With motor running, gradually stream oil and blend until combined.
  4. Transfer to large bowl; season with salt.

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, scrapping down sides as needed, until finely chopped.
  2. Add egg, lamb, and flour and pulse until evenly combined.
  3. Form lamb mixture into 1½” balls.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high.
  5. Cook meatballs, working in 2 batches and adding another 1 tbsp oil to skillet if needed. Turn occasionally, until browned on all sides and cooked through, 5-8 minutes. Transfer meatballs to paper towels to drain.
  6. Transfer all meatballs to bowl with chile sauce and toss to coat.
  7. Toss cucumber in a medium bowl with lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, and remaining 2 tbsp oil; season with salt and pepper.
  8. Spoon yogurt into bowls. Evenly divide meatballs among bowls; top with dressed cucumber and mint and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
Do Ahead: Meatball mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.


Serves 4

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