My Middle Eastern meatballs and tabbouleh

Having been born in the Middle East I grew up with the flavours of chickpeas, sesame, lemon juice and copious amounts of parsley from birth. It is maybe because of this that I feel so at home cooking with these ingredients and even better eating them…

Here is one of my all time favourite Middle Eastern recipes using all of these beautiful flavours from the Mediterranean. My lamb meatballs have a touch of eastern spices which really elevate them from your average Italian version.

For the meatballs:
500g lamb mince
1 pack fresh coriander
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 garlic cloves
1 chilli (de-seeded)
1 tbsp olive oil

For the tabboule:
250g bulgur wheat
2 packs flat leaf parsley
3 large tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
1/2 onion
1 lemon

For the tahini sauce:
3 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil
Small bunch parsley

1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Prepare the meatball mix by chopping the chilli, fresh coriander and garlic roughly then pounding in a pestle and mortar into a paste.
3. Mix the paste into the lamb mince in a mixing bowl.
4. Add the ground cumin and coriander and breadcrumbs and mix fully until the lamb forms a large ball.
5. Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, form small meatballs from the meat mixture and fry on high heat until browned (around 7 mins).
6. Then transfer the meatballs to a oven tray and cook in the oven around 10 more mins until cooked through.
7. To prepare the tabbouleh heat a pan of water and bring to the boil. In a bowl soak the bulgur wheat in cold water. Leave for 2 mins then ladle the bulgur into a steamer to sit over the top of the boiling water. Cook for 20 mins until soft.

8. Whilst the bulgur is cooking, very finely chop the parsley until it is finer even than in this image.


9. Then finely chop the cucumber, onion and tomato and add these with the parsley to a mixing bowl.
10. Once the bulgur is cooked, mix in with the rest of the salad and season to taste with salt, olive oil and lots of lemon juice (I like to use a whole lemon).
11. Finally for the tahini sauce (this really lifts the whole dish). Add the tahini to a measuring jug and add the water and olive oil and mix thoroughly until you have a runny but thick and shiny sauce.
12. Finely chop some more parsley, add to the sauce and mix.
13. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.
14. Serve the meatballs with the tahini sauce drizzled over and a pile of delicious tabbouleh on the side.

Perfect summer dinner.

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