Turkish meatballs with pomegranate & pistachio

  • Preparation time: 20 minutes + chilling
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes
  • Total time: 40 minutes + chilling

Makes: 2 - 4


½ cinnamon stick
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cardamom pod
1 pinch ground mace or nutmeg
1 pinch ground allspice
1 tsp dried mint
250g lamb mince
Zest of ½ lemon
1 tbsp olive oil, for cooking

50g sourdough bread, torn into chunks
50g pistachios
1 clove garlic, peeled
½ tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tbsp sea salt
250ml lamb stock
200ml pomegranate juice
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

Large pinch of saffron strands
Few drops of rose water
100g natural yogurt

Handful pistachios, roasted and chopped
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
2 tbsp fresh chopped mint


1. Preheat oven to 160°C, gas mark 3. Begin by making the meatballs. Place a heavy-based frying pan over a medium to high heat and toast the whole spices for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Set aside to cool slightly before placing in a spice grinder and grinding to a fine powder.

2. Mix 4 tsp of the freshly ground spices with the mace allspice and mint, and place in a large bowl along with the lamb mince and lemon zest. Season generously and mix to combine the lamb thoroughly with the seasoning.

3. Divide the mix into 10 equal-sized meatballs and place in the fridge to firm up while you prepare the rest of the dish.

4. Place the bread, pistachios and garlic clove on a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until all the ingredients are golden brown.

5. For the picada: transfer the toasted ingredients to a small food processor and blend with any remaining spice mix, the extra virgin olive oil and salt until a coarse paste is achieved and set aside. This is the picada that will be used to thicken the meatballs sauce.

6. To make the sauce: remove the meatballs from the fridge and place the frying pan back over a medium to high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil then the meatballs and cook for 2 minutes until golden brown before turning to cook for a further 2 minutes on each side, or until the meatballs are an even golden brown on all sides and the juices run clear.

7. Remove the browned meatballs from the pan and drain on clean kitchen towel while finishing the sauce, cover to keep warm.

8. Deglaze the frying pan with the lamb stock and pomegranate juice and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, to reduce the liquid by about half. This should take 5-10 minutes.

9. Once the sauce has reduced, stir in 2-3 tbsp of the picada and continue to simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened, adding more of the picada if needed. Season to your taste with the pomegranate molasses. If the sauce has thickened too much, or tastes too sweet, stir in some water.

10. Fold the meatballs back through the thickened sauce, turn the heat down to low and cook gently for a further 5 minutes or until the meatballs are piping hot.

11. For the saffron yogurt: soak the saffron strands in the rose water until you are ready to serve. Gently swirl the soaked saffron and rose water through the natural yogurt, leaving a marbled pattern if possible.

12. Serve the meatballs immediately, drizzled with the saffron yogurt and scattered with the pistachios, pomegranate seeds and herbs.