Winter Meat

Beef Meatballs in Spiced Tomato Sauce


The beef meatballs and the sauce can be made in advance separately and then heated together just before serving.  Allowing the sauce to sit for a few hours will certainly improve the flavour.  I also love serving these beef meatballs on top of spaghetti and sometimes I make them with minced lamb, which works wonderfully too.

Serves 4.

This recipe is taken from my first cookbookIn One Pot: Fresh Recipes for Every Occasion, W&N, 2013.

Photo courtesy of Simon Wheeler.


  • 500g minced beef
  • 1tsp each, garam masala, ground cumin and ground turmeric
  • 1 large onion, peeled and grated
  • 1tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 tsp each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3tbs olive oil, for frying

For the sauce

  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tins (800g) tomatoes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

  • 20g chopped coriander leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil


  • Make the beef meatballs by putting all the ingredients (except the oil) in a bowl and squeezing together with your hands to make a smooth mixture.  It might seem like a lot of salt and pepper to use, but this is necessary to properly season the meat.
  • Form the mixture into small ball about the size of a walnut, depending on how many you choose to make – around 20 is a good number.
  • In a deep, heavy frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium heat and fry the meatballs, rolling them around until they brown evenly all over.  You might need to fry the meatballs in batches depending on how many fit in the pan (the main thing is not to overcrowd the pan, letting the meatballs unstick before turning them over.) Remove to a plate and set aside.
  • To make the sauce, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a couple of minutes until it begins to brown.  Add the allspice, cinnamon and chilli flakes and stir to release the flavours,  Put in the tomatoes and season well.  Stir, then lower the heat and gently simmer for about 15 minutes or until you have a thick, concentrated sauce.
  • Add most of the coriander and stir well, then return the meatballs to the pan.  Cover them in the sauce and cook together for about 5 minutes to allow the flavours to mix.
  • Finally, sprinkle over the rest of the coriander and serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and some good bread.


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