I have to admit that I am not very good at trying new recipes. If I do choose a new recipe, it is usually similar to something that I have tried before. I suppose at my age, I put it down to taste and experience. I know what I like and I know what is likely to turn out well. But we can become a bit safe, a bit boring, never trying something that really sounds a little bit out of your safety zone.
With this recipe, I just heard the words “warm yoghurt” and I panicked. I mean, it just sounds like it is going to curdle. I was about to opt for a safer option – lamb meatballs with braised chard, pitta and yogurt but I stopped myself. After all this recipe is Yotam Ottelenghi from his massively successful restaurant “Nopi” so who was I to question why. Warm yoghurt – why? So I made it. To tell you the truth, I would have preferred my original idea, but this is for all the more adventurous of you.
Meatballs with Warm Yoghurt and Swiss Chard
1kg lamb mince
150g fresh breadcrumbs
70g pine nuts, toasted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried mint
4 tsp ground allspice
4 garlic cloves, crushed
60ml olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (120g)
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely diced
300g Swiss chard, white stalks removed and green leaves roughly shredded (120g)
300ml chicken stock
40ml lemon juice
500g Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with 2 tsp water
1 egg, lightly beaten
seeds of 1 medium pomegranate (150g) (optional)
20g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
coarse sea salt and black pepper
Put the first six ingredients in a large bowl with half the allspice, half the garlic, two teaspoons of salt and half a teaspoon of black pepper. Mix to combine, then shape into 5cm-wide meatballs weighing 50g each. You should make about 24 balls.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan, add the onions and remaining garlic and fry on a medium heat for eight to 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onions have softened but not taken on any colour. Add the chilli and chard, cook for two to three minutes, until the chard has wilted, then stir in the remaining allspice, the stock and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.
Put the yoghurt, cornflour paste and egg in a large bowl with 150ml of water. Whisk to a smooth paste, then gradually spoon in the hot chard mixture, stirring well after each addition, until well combined. Stir in two teaspoons of salt and a good crack of black pepper, and set aside.
Pour the remaining oil into a large, high-sided saute pan on a medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and fry for four minutes, turning a few times so they brown all over. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding a little more oil if need be.
Wipe down the pan and pour in the yoghurt sauce. Bring to a very gentle simmer on a medium-low heat – it should barely be bubbling – and stir continuously in one direction to prevent it curdling. Return the meatballs to the pan (they should just be submerged in sauce), cover and cook on a low heat for 20–25 minutes, until cooked through. Serve at once, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, if using, and coriander.