Weekly Winner:  If Swedish Meatballs Traveled to Turkey Wearing a Velvet Blanket

Luscious.  Simply Luscious.  There is no other way to describe this strange little dish.  You have wonderfully soft, spiced meatballs nestled on white rice and then it all is bathed in an amazing yogurt sauce that’s been enriched with egg yolks. Because it’s basically meatballs in a “white” sauce, there is a definite homage to Swedish meatballs.  But this dish is far more complex and interesting than the cocktail party staple.

Spiced Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce comes from Martha Stewart Living.  It takes more time than you’d expect to make this dish and has a few unexpected steps, but nothing is complicated or difficult.  The results are definitely worth it when you sit down to this rich, satisfying dish.

Spiced Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

Serves 6


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 large cloves garlic, 3 minced, 3 sliced

Coarse salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 large egg, plus 3 large yolks

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, (or parsley in my case) plus more for serving

1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Cooked rice, for serving

Ground sumac and red-pepper flakes, for serving


  1. In a large straight-sided skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Add onion, minced garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add cumin and cinnamon and cook, stirring, about 1 minute more. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor; process to a paste.
  2. In a bowl, combine breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup broth; let stand 5 minutes. Add beef, onion paste, whole egg, and cilantro; mix with your hands to combine. With lightly dampened hands, form mixture into 28 balls, about 2 tablespoons each.
  3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high. Working in batches (do not crowd pan), cook meatballs until browned on all sides, about 7 minutes a batch. Transfer to a plate; pour off fat from skillet. Return meatballs to pan; add 3/4 cup broth and sliced garlic. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer just until meatballs are cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and yogurt. In another bowl, whisk together cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup broth; whisk into broth in skillet. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then strain through a sieve into yogurt mixture, stirring to combine. Return to skillet and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until just bubbling and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 1 minute; season with salt. Add meatballs to sauce and heat through. Serve over rice, sprinkled with sumac, red-pepper flakes, and parsley.