Farm & Dairy

Lamb Meatballs with Barberries, Yogurt & Herbs

From Jerusalem,  A Cookbook   Yotam Ottanghi and Sami Tamimi, Random House (Appetite) 2012


Serves 6, makes about thirty meatballs

750 g ground lamb

2 medium onions, finely chopped

20 g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3/4 tsp ground allspice

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

6 tbsp barberries (or substitute dried cranberries)

1 large egg

100 ml sunflower oil

700 g shallots, peeled

200 ml white wine

500 ml chicken stock 

2 bay leaves

2 thyme sprigs

2 tsp sugar

150 g dried figs

Scant 1 cup Greek yogurt

3 tbsp mixed mint, cilantro, dill and tarragon coarsely torn

Salt and pepper, freshly ground


Place the lamb, onions, parsley, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, barberries, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl.  Mix with your hands, then roll into balls about the size of golf balls.

Heat one third of the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot for which you have a tight fitting lid.  Put in a few meatballs at a time and cook and turn them around for a few minutes until they colour all over.  Remove from the pot and set aside.  Cook the remaining meatballs the same way.

Wipe the pot clean and add the remaining oil.  Add the shallots and cook them over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Add the wine, leave to bubble for a moment or two, then add the stock, bay leaves, thyme, sugar, and some salt and pepper.  Arrange the figs and meatballs among and on top of the shallots; the meatballs need to be almost covered in the liquid.  Bring to a boil, cover with the lid, decrease the heat to very low, and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and simmer for about another hour, until the sauce has reduced and intensified in flavour.  Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.

Transfer to a large, deep serving dish.  Whisk the yogurt, pour on top, and scatter with herbs.