Pepper Monkey Lamb Meatballs

Ingredients

Spicy Afghan Green Sauce
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1/2 to 1 jalapeño, depending on how spicy you want your sauce
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
3 cloves garlic
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons seasoned salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon agave nectar

Meatballs
1 tablespoon cumin seeds [you can substitute garam masala for the spice blend]
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
Seeds from 4 cardamom pods
Seeds from 2 star anise
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons seasoned salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne
4 to 5 pounds ground lamb
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup cooked spinach, chopped

Preparation

Make the Spicy Afghan Green Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. This can be done 1 to 3 days in advance. It is best to make the sauce at least 1 day in advance to give the flavors time to blend.

Preheat a grill to about 375°F for direct cooking.

Make the meatballs: Place the cumin, coriander, cardamom seeds, and star anise in a small skillet over medium heat and toast until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool, then grind in a spice or coffee grinder. Add the turmeric, seasoned salt, black pepper, cinnamon, and cayenne and mix well.

Place the ground lamb in a large bowl. Add the spices along with the onion, ginger, garlic, mint, feta, and spinach and mix well, but do not overmix as this will result in a tough texture. Form the mixture into meatballs 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Place the meatballs on the grill grate and cook for about 14 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F on a meat thermometer, rotating the meatballs frequently to ensure that they caramelize evenly.

Serves 10-12.

Ardie A. Davis and Paul Kirk, Epicurious, May 2013

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