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Middle-Eastern Lamb and Lentil Meatballs Salted Tahini Yogurt Pickled Cucumbers and Herbs

Mid-East Flavored Beef, Lamb and Lentil Meatballs with Tahini Yogurt Sauce, Pickled Vegetables and Fresh Mediterranean Herb Salad


For Spice Paste:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
  • 4 tbsp onion
  • 2 garlic, cloves
  • 1 tbsp red chilis, fresh
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp paprika, Spanish smoked
  • ½ tsp turmeric, ground
  • ½ tsp cumin, ground
  • ½ tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

For the Croquettes:

  • 4 oz ground beef
  • 4 oz ground lamb, (can double up on beef or lamb if preferred)
  • 1 slice bread, whole wheat (torn into crumbs)
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz lentils, brown, (cooked)
  • ¼ cup olive oil

For Pickled Vegetables:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 garlic, clove
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ red onion, (thinly sliced)
  • 1 red chili, fresh (seeded and thinly sliced)
  • ½ cucumber, Long English (unpeeled, thinly sliced)

Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 cup yogurt, full fat
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp salt, (plus more if needed)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

Herb Salad:

  • ½ cup mint, leaves
  • ½ cup cilantro, leaves
  • ½ cup parsley, flat leaf, leaves
  • 1 splash olive oil, extra-virgin
  • pinch salt


For Spice Paste:

  • Heat a small sauté pan. Add the olive oil and onion and sauté until golden brown.
  • Add the garlic, chilies and lemon zest and sauté until fragrant -about 2 minutes.
  • Add the spices and salt and sauté for another minute.
  • Add the lemon juice and remove to a large mixing bowl to cool.

For the Croquettes:

  • When the above spice paste is cool, add the ground meat and mix well with hands to combine.
  • Add the whole wheat bread and egg and mix again to combine thoroughly.
  • Carefully fold in the lentils without crushing them.
  • Cook a tablespoon size patty and test for seasoning adjusting if necessary with salt.
  • Form into 2 oz patties and if you have time, refrigerate for 30 minutes before cooking.
  • In a non-stick pan, heat the remaining olive oil and pan the patties for 3-4 minutes per side until they register 155°F on an instant read thermometer.

For Assembly:

  • Spoon the Salted Yogurt Sauce onto 4 plates. Top with the patties and the herbs serving the pickles on the side.
  • Alternatively, serve all components in a pocket bread or pita as a sandwich.

For the Pickled Vegetables:

  • In a small non-reactive saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, turmeric, garlic, sugar and salt to a full rolling boil.
  • Pour over the vegetables, pressing to submerge. Allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
  • These quick pickles will last for up to one week in the fridge.

For the Salted Yogurt Sauce:

  • In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients.
  • Adjust the seasoning with more salt if needed. This sauce should be quite salty and lemony.