Spicy Meatballs with Adjika and Yogurt
From Samarkand: A Culinary Journey Through Central Asia by Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford, published by Kyle Books, © 2016. Photography by Laura Edwards. Published with permission.
From authors Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford: Adjika, literally “red salt,” is a spicy and fragrant pepper paste from Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia. You’ll find it completely addictive and you’ll be using it as a condiment for everything, as they do in Abkhazia. It will keep in the fridge for a few days.
- FOR THE ADJIKA:
- 4 red chiles, seeded
- 4 tomatoes, seeded
- 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup cilantro leaves
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 1 cup dill fronds
- 2 tablespoons walnut oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- FOR THE MEATBALLS:
- 1 slice white bread, crusts removed
- 6 tablespoons milk
- 9 ounces ground pork
- 9 ounces ground beef
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon barberries
- 1 tablespoon ground sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- olive oil, for frying
- Greek yogurt, to serve
- For the adjika, put all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse-blend to a chunky paste. The flavor will become more rounded and mellow if you make the paste in advance and let sit for a while.
- To make the meatballs, soak the bread in the milk for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put all the other ingredients into a large bowl and use your hands to combine everything thoroughly.
- Mash together the bread and milk to make a paste, then mix this into the meatball mixture.
- Roll into meatballs; I like them golf-ball sized.
- Heat a slick of oil in a frying pan and cook the meatballs in batches. Start at a high heat to brown the outside, then lower the temperature until the meat is cooked through.
- Serve with the adjika and a generous dollop of yogurt.
A Note From The City Cook:
Barberries are used in cooking throughout the Middle East. They are tiny, used both fresh and dried, and have an extremely sour and tart flavor and thus usually used in small amounts, as in this recipe. Some health food sources refer to them as a super food due to their high anti-oxidant and vitamin C content. Look for them at Whole Foods, in organic and health food markets, and on Amazon.