Ismir Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

"When Greek chef Theodore Kyriakou first opened his London restaurant The Real Greek, this dish was one of his "runaway successes, despite a heated debate among all concerned as to just what they should be called in English. Were they meatballs, dumplings or even rissoles?" Whatever their name, they are delicious, and like all his recipes, this recipe retains "the true essence of Greek food (and its) traditional ingredients". And like all his recipes, this is a recipe for those who want to make authentic recipes, not those in which half the ingredients are pre-packaged shortcuts. His recipes may take a little longer to make, but the reward is in the flavour and aroma of the finished dish. I am posting this recipe for the 2005 Zaar World Tour."
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Ready In:
2hrs 20mins




  • Start by making the meatballs so that you can rest them while you are making the sauce. Knead the minced lamb with breadcrumbs, powdered cumin, chopped onion, garlic, olives and the beaten egg. Season the mixture with salt and the freshly ground black pepper.
  • Wet your hands and mould the mixture into spheres, about 2-cm in diameter (2.5-cm = 1 inch), and leave them in the fridge for the flavours to meld.
  • To make the sauce, add the jar of passata, 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil and the sugar to a large non-reactive saucepan, and pass the tomatoes and their juice through a sieve into the pan. They will add extra flavour to the ready-made passata.
  • Season with salt and the freshly ground pepper, add the muslin-wrapped spices and leave the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes; and remember to skim it regularly.
  • Add the onions to the pan and allow the sauce to simmer for another hour until they are cooked, then cook for another 20 minutes.
  • Blanch the remaining cracked olives in boiling water for 2 minutes and add them to the tomato sauce. Place the lid on the pan, and leave them to simmer gently.
  • Roll the meatballs in flour and fry them in a little olive oil to brown them and firm them before they are added to the sauce.
  • Place the yoghurt in a small bowl or jug and add the cumin seeds and stir well. Cover, and leave in the fridge.
  • Bring the sauce to simmering point, add the meatballs and leave to simmer with the lid on until cooked, about 15 minutes.
  • Serve the meatballs on boiled, long-grain rice, with the sauce in which they were cooked, with the cool, cumin yoghurt on the side.

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  1. Really enjoyed this recipe for dinner tonight. I did make a couple of adjustments to meet my family's tastes. Instead of dredging the meatballs in flour and frying, I baked them for about 25 minutes. The meatball mixture was so flavourful, I don't think the recipe suffered any (although anything fried in olive oil is doubly-delicious). My other 2 changes were in the sauce. The amount of olive oil was more than I would normally use, and I used about 1/2 that (50 ml). I also used only the passata, thinned with an equal amount of water. After it boils down for the length of time stated by the recipe, it is more than enough sauce, and very tomato-ey. I think the extra tin of plum tomatoes is not really necessary, but that could be our taste. My last 'adjustment' was in the number of olives. I had bought 200 grams (about 8 oz) of pitted green olives, using half for the meatball mixture and 1/2 for the sauce. It was way less than the 100 olives called for (about 25, I'd say, although I didn't count), and I'm wondering if our olives are excessively large, cause more would have overwhelmed the dish. A fine recipe. VERY tasty. DH, 3 children and myself ate it all up. Definitely a make-again.


July 2008 update: VERY happy to be back on Zaar after about a two year absence due to having had no internet connection at home, and having been too unwell for a time so that getting re-connected wasn't even a priority! <br> <br>And really looking forward to getting back into the Zaar world and connecting again with the many wonderful people I knew before, and new people, of course!
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