These delicious, Indian spiced lettuce cups are perfect for potlucks, parties and barbecues. An easy, flavourful finger food that can be largely prepared well in advance of your festivities.
I confess I’m a sucker for ground meat kebabs. Having lived and worked in India for over 10 years, my family adores the flavour profile of the many kebabs we ate at restaurants and parties.
The kebabs we remember so vividly are tender, rich, and bursting with flavour. They are the perfect finger food, easy to nibble with cocktails or on the run.
These delicious kebabs are usually served with lemon juice, onions, and a sprinkling of fresh coriander. Then, each diner adjusts the kebabs to his or her personal taste with cooling yoghurt sauce or coriander chutney. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water!
About the Recipe
This recipe is inspired by those delicious kebabs that haunt my memories. However, I’ve simplified them a bit by turning them into meatballs — which can be baked in the oven.
Rather than serving the meatballs with bread, I’ve opted to nestle them in gem lettuce cups. These little flavour bombs are complemented by a light yogurt sauce, while quick pickled onions add a pretty burst of colour.
Lettuce cups make great finger food. However, they require punchy flavours to make them work. These exotically seasoned meatballs, accompanied by a quick pickle and creamy sauce are just the ticket.
Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps or ingredients in this recipe. It may seem like a lot at first glance. But, you’ll be surprised how quickly it all comes together.
Best of all, you can prepare the meatballs entirely in advance. Store fully cooked meatballs in the fridge or freezer. Warm them at serving time, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and pop them in the lettuce cups at the last minute.
I hope your friends and family enjoy this tasty recipe as much as mine does. Bon appétit!
Mughlai Meatball Lettuce Cups
For the meatballs
- 1 kg lamb mince
- 2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 2 Tbsp crushed garlic (about 8 cloves)
- 4-6 green chillies, or to taste
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
- 30 g fresh coriander, leaves and stems, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 Tbsp chickpea flour;1/2 lemon, cut into quarters
For the yogurt sauce
- 1 cup full fat yoghurt
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated on the large holes of a box grater.
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- sea salt, to taste
For the quick onion pickles
- 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon natural sea salt
- 1 lime, juice of
For the lettuce cups
- Place onions, ginger, garlic and chillies in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade (or in a blender jar). Pulse until finely ground, adding 1-2 Tbsp of water, if necessary, to facilitate grinding.
- Place minced meat in a medium sized bowl. Add pureed vegetables, garam masala, cumin and salt. Knead the mixture until it is thoroughly combined. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 8 hours) to allow flavours to blend.
- Meanwhile prepare the yogurt sauce by stirring all of the ingredients together. Taste and adjust salt, as needed. Cover with clingfilm and set aside.
- To prepare the quick pickle, massage the salt into the thinly sliced red onions. Add the lime juice and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover with cling film and set aside for at least 20 minutes. The onions will wilt and lose their pungency as they pickle.
- When ready to form the meatballs, preheat oven to 180° C (350°F).
- Remove meat mixture from fridge. Add fresh coriander and chickpea flour and knead thoroughly to combine. Use moistened hands to shape meat mixture into approximately 72 meatballs, roughly 1 inch in diameter. (You may add additional chickpea flour to the bowl, if needed for the mixture to hold its shape.) Arrange the meatballs on a lined baking sheet as you go.
- Bake the meatballs in the oven for 12 - 14 minutes, or until cooked through. (You may wish to run them under the broiler for 2-3 minutes for additional browning prior to serving.)
- Remove meatballs from the oven and squeeze the lemon wedges over them.
- To serve, remove leaves from gem lettuce heads, trimming away any particularly thick stems, and arrange on a serving platter. Place a dollop of yogurt sauce on each lettuce leaf. Top the yogurt sauce with a meatball and strew 3-4 onion pickles on top. Serve immediately.
f desired, ground beef may be substituted for ground lamb with equally tasty results. You may also wish to serve these with Cool and Spicy Mint Chutney for an extra punch of flavour!