Recently, I spent a winter weekend out of the city with my good friends and their family. While I would not be skiing, I would be tearing it up in the kitchen with my mate Jonathon, making a recipe from cookbook author David Tanis that piqued his interest. And thank goodness it did. It will become your new meatball, too.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 and 1/2 cups finely diced onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 inch piece cinnamon stick

Large pinch saffron, crumbled

Salt and pepper

3 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water


1 and 1/2 cups cubed day-old firm white bread

1 cup milk

1 pound ground beef or lamb

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion

All-purpose flour, for dusting

Olive oil or vegetable oil

To make the sauce, heat oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onion and cook without browning until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon and saffron. Stir well to incorporate. Season generously with salt and pepper, and allow to sizzle for 1 minute more. Add broth and simmer gently for 5 minutes. May be made several hours in advance, up to a day.

To make the meatballs, put bread cubes and milk in a small bowl. Leave bread to soak until softened, about 5 minutes, then squeeze dry.

Place squeezed-out bread, ground meat and egg in a mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, garlic, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, cloves, coriander and cumin. Mix well with hands to distribute seasoning. Add 2 tablespoons each of parsley, cilantro and scallion, and knead for a minute.

Using your hands or a small ice cream scoop, roll mixture into small round balls about the size of a quarter. Dust balls lightly with flour. Heat a few tablespoons of oil, or a quarter-inch depth, over medium-high heat and fry meatballs until barely browned, about 2 minutes per side. Drain and blot on paper towel. Simmer meatballs in saffron-tomato sauce, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until tender.

We served it over buttery herbed Israeli couscous and garnished with remaining parsley, cilantro and scallion. So flavorful and delicious, I will be making these meatballs again and again.

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook at For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at Follow AmNewsFOOD @NYAmNewsFOOD.