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Recipe: Lamb Meatballs with Spicy Afghan Sauce, from 'America's Best BBQ Homestyle'

Here's a recipe from "America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards," by Ardie Davis and Paul Kirk, featured in today's Buffalo News.

Pepper Monkey Lamb Meatballs

Makes about 48 meatballs, serving 10 to 12

We had to include this fantastic recipe because the marriage of fresh ginger, garlic, mint, feta cheese, spinach, and freshly ground lamb with complementary spicy seasonings grilled over direct heat yields an outstanding flavor. Cover them with Spicy Afghan Green Sauce and you’ll be serving one of the most remarkable backyard barbecues ever. Friends who think they don’t like lamb will rave about these meatballs.


1 bunch fresh cilantro

1/2 to 1 jalapeno, depending on how spicy you want your sauce

1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

3 cloves garlic

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons seasoned salt

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon agave nectar


1 tablespoon cumin seeds (see Notes)

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

Seeds from 4 cardamom pods

Seeds from 2 star anise

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

3 tablespoons seasoned salt

1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon cayenne

4 to 5 pounds ground lamb (see Notes)

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 bunch fresh mint, chopped

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 cup cooked spinach, chopped

Make the Spicy Afghan Green Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food proces­sor and puree until smooth. This can be done 1 to 3 days in advance. It is best to make the sauce at least 1 day in advance to give the fla­vors time to blend.

Preheat a grill to about 375 F for direct cooking.

Make the meatballs: Place the cumin, cori­ander, cardamom seeds, and star anise in a small skillet over medium heat and toast until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool, then grind in a spice or coffee grinder. Add the turmeric, seasoned salt, black pepper, cinnamon, and cayenne and mix well.

Place the ground lamb in a large bowl. Add the spices along with the onion, ginger, garlic, mint, feta, and spinach and mix well, but do not over­mix as this will result in a tough texture. Form the mixture into meatballs 1 to 11/2 inches in diameter.

Place the meatballs on the grill grate and cook for about 14 minutes, or until the internal tem­perature reaches 160 F on a meat thermometer, rotating the meatballs frequently to ensure that they caramelize evenly.

Serve with the dipping sauce.

Notes: You may substitute store-bought garam masala for the homemade spice mixture here.

You can have a butcher grind the meat, or you can do it yourself at home, using a meat grinder or food processor.

(From America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards, By Ardie Davis and Paul Kirk, Andrews McMeel)



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