Lamb is one of my absolute favourite meats. It is so full of flavour! It can be slow cooked for hours on end or flash fried in seconds. It is a very versatile meat and very underused in my opinion. It can be bought in many forms that lend themselves to particular types of cooking like many other meats however, lamb does have a tendency to be fatty (which is partly where the amazing flavour comes from). An alternative version of a classic recipe with the calories, salt and fat slashed. Still rich in flavour, this creamy lamb curry is big on fibre, vitamin C, iron and folate – what’s not to love?
How I made it healthier: To cut down on the fat and saturated fat, I swapped half the mince for lentils – which also increased the 5-a-day. I reduced the amount of salt but boosted the flavour with a variety of spices and other flavourings. I used rapeseed oil for frying (only a small amount) and only half a can of coconut milk with water for added liquid to reduce the fat content.
I have a little confession though; in this particular recipe, I didn’t have any fresh coriander or any herbs in the house for that matter so I used a teaspoon of mint sauce from a jar in the kofta mix and it actually tasted amazing!
For the meatballs:
- 270g packet puy lentils
- 250g lamb mince (20% Fat)
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes
- ¼ tsp medium or hot chilli powder
- 1 small onion, very finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 2½ cm/1in piece ginger, grated
- 3 tbsp chopped coriander
For the sauce:
- 2 tsp rapeseed oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3-4cm/1 ¼-1 ½ in piece ginger, finely chopped
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp medium to hot chilli powder
- 8 dried curry leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick, halved
- 1 plump green chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 2 large tomatoes (about 200g/7oz), roughly chopped
- 2 tsp tomato purée
- 200ml reduced-fat coconut milk
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander, plus extra to serve
- garam masala, for sprinkling
- Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking parchment. Tip two-thirds of the lentils into a medium bowl and mash them (the mashed lentils will help bind, the whole ones will add texture). Mix in the whole lentils, lamb, the spices, onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, a good grind of black pepper and a pinch of salt, taking care not to overwork the mixture.
- Using slightly damp hands, shape into 18-20 meatballs. Lay the meatballs on the prepared tray, cover with cling film and chill while you prepare the sauce. Can be chilled overnight to develop extra flavour, if you like.
- Heat oven to 190C/170C fan. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a non-stick frying or sauté pan, and fry the onion and cumin seeds over a medium heat for 6-8 mins until the onion is softened, stirring occasionally. Raise the heat slightly to start to brown the onion and stir in the garlic, ginger, ground coriander, turmeric, chilli powder and curry leaves, stir-frying for a few mins. As the onion browns, stir in the cinnamon stick, green chilli, tomatoes and purée, briefly stirring to soften the tomatoes. Pour in 100ml of the coconut milk, scraping the bottom of the pan to gather up any brown sticky bits, and let it bubble briefly and thicken. Pour in 250ml water, bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and gently simmer for 15-20 mins to thicken very slightly – but keep checking so it doesn’t reduce too much (add a splash of water if needed). Season with pepper.
- While the sauce simmers, uncover the meatballs and cook in the oven for 20 mins until cooked through and starting to brown on top – there is no need to turn them. Remove and pat down with kitchen paper to drain off any excess fat.
- Stir the remaining coconut milk into the sauce over a low heat then add the chopped coriander. Sit the meatballs in the sauce and cook for 5 mins on a very gentle simmer to warm through and blend the flavours, then remove the cinnamon stick.
- Tip the meatballs into a serving dish or divide between bowls, sprinkle over a little garam masala and the coriander, and serve with rice and/or flatbreads/naans/paratha.