Middle Eastern meatballs with smoky aubergine purée and minted yogurt

For a taste of the Middle East try Ursula Ferrigno's wonderfully simple recipe, a great combination of flavours and textures
By Ursula Ferrigno
Middle Eastern meatballs with smoky aubergine purée and minted yogurt
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Prep Time:
  • Effort: easy



  • 500 g lean minced lamb
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled crushed
  • a handful of coriander, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 50 g pine kernels, chopped
  • olive oil, for frying
  • green salad, to serve
  • warm flatbreads, (such as pitta)to serve

For the smoky aubergine puree:

  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 01 pinches salt
  • juice of half a lemons
  • 1 tbsp thick creamy yogurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pinches cayenne pepper

For the minted yogurt:

  • a handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 120 ml thick creamy yogurt


1. First prepare the aubergine purée. Pierce the aubergine in a few places with the point of a knife, then directly place it over a flame until the skin is thoroughly blackened and blistered and the flesh feels soft, around 10 minutes. Set aside to cool

2. Mash the garlic to a paste with a good pinch of salt and with the blade of a flat knife. When the aubergine has cooled enough to handle, peel off the charred skin and squeeze out as much moisture as possible from the flesh.

3. Work the aubergine to a purée either in a blender, food processor or by chopping it or mashing it with a potato masher.

4. Beat in the garlic paste, lemon juice, olive oil and yogurt a little at a time. Season with cayenne pepper and set aside.

5. Make the minted yogurt by stirring the chopped mint into the yogurt.

6. To make the meatballs, mix together the mince, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, allspice, salt, pine nuts and cayenne. Work until soft and paste-like with your hands. With wet hands divide the mixture into 24 pieces and roll into walnut sized balls.

7. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the meatballs in small batches for about 5 minutes, turning often so they are crisp and browned all over, but still moist and juicy inside.

8. Drain well on kitchen paper and keep warm until all the meatballs have been fried.

9. Serve the meatballs hot with a few spoonfuls of minted yogurt, smoked aubergine purée, a simple green salad and warm flat bread.

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