Turkey Meatball Curry

A blender full of meatballs (web)

When do you do when you feel as though your life has descended into chaos? OK, so chaos might not be the best term for it, but in the past few weeks I’ve managed to bag myself an exciting new job, quit my old job, become very very very nervous, then very very very excited. While the stress levels are nowhere near those I experienced before my wedding (where I infamously was forced to run laps around the outside of my office a few days before the ceremony in a futile effort to calm the eff down) I do feel a bit like I’m on an emotional rollercoaster at the moment – I turn the corner and my mood dips into trepidation with a side order of anxiety about being up to the task and then rises again into total euphoria about what the future holds. I must say, it’s all getting a bit exhausting.

So, I do what I always do in times of stress. I make meatballs. I’ve spoken before about how meatballs make the perfect comfort food, and (with the possible exception of cake), I’ve yet to find any other bite-sized food stuff which makes me feel so zen. Perhaps that’s why this blog is full of the things. After all, they’re easy to make, even easier to eat and they’re (usually) a better form of stress relief than drinking a large bottle of red booze and kicking a lamppost.

Turkey Meatball mixture

This Turkey Meatball Curry isn’t exactly the kind of thing that you can just whip up after a hard day at work. It involves blending, rolling, resting and rather a lot of simmering. But the end results are totally worth it – warm from the whole cinnamon stick and cardamom pods used in the sauce, slightly spicy and utterly delicious. I made a gigantic pot of this and feasted on it for days – from wrapping up huge messy scoops of it inside hunks of flaky naan bread, or dished over a bowl of steaming white basmati rice with a pile of carrot salad on the side. While you can eat it right away, it tastes even better the day after when all the flavours have settled and mingled together.

Turkey Meatball Curry


Curry recipe adapted from BBC Food.

For the meatballs

  • 500g turkey mince
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • A small handful coriander leaves, chopped finely

For the curry 

  • 1 large onion
  • 6 garlic cloves , roughly chopped
  • 50g ginger , roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 5cm cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • A handful of fresh coriander, chopped finely, to garnish

Make It!

Make the turkey meatballs:

  • Put the breadcrumbs in the bowl of a food processor, add two tablespoons of water and combine until the mixture turns sandy.  Add the rest of the meatball ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and pulse the food processor until the mixture looks chunky.
  • Wet your hands, and fashion your meatballs. This mixture should easily make around 26 teaspoon-sized balls (hurr). If these are too many for you, freeze half to save for later. Allow the meatballs to rest for at least an hour, although the longer you leave them to rest, the better they’ll taste.

Make the curry sauce:

  • Roughly chop the onion, transfer to your food processor, and add 3 tablespoons of water. Pulse the onions a few times until they form a chunky paste. (If you don’t own a food processor, coarsely grate the onion with a box grater into a bowl – there’s no need to add any water if you are doing this.) Tip the onions into a small bowl and place to one side.
  • Put the chopped garlic and ginger into the same food processor and add 4 tablespoons of water. Blitz until smooth and spoon into another small bowl. (Alternatively, crush the garlic to a paste with the flat end of a knife and finely grate the ginger.)
  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat. Combine the cumin and fennel seeds with the cinnamon and chilli flakes and add to the pan in one go. Swirl everything around for about 30 secs until the spices release a fragrant aroma.
  • Add the onion paste.  It will splutter in the beginning, but fry until the water evaporates and the onions turn a lovely dark golden colour – this should take about 7-8 mins. Add the garlic and ginger paste and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring all the time.
  • Stir in the garam masala, turmeric, and sugar and continue cooking for 20 seconds before tipping in the chopped tomatoes and the black and green cardamom pods. Continue cooking on a medium heat for about 10 minutes without a lid until the tomatoes reduce and darken.
  • Reduce the heat to a low simmer and gently add the meatballs. Cover, and let simmer for 40-45 minutes, turning the meatballs every ten minutes or so. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve.
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3 thoughts on “Turkey Meatball Curry

  1. I don’t normally see turkey curries unless it’s trying to use up the Christmas bird! Soudns really good, one for my Saturday night curry list!

    • Christina McMc says:

      Thanks! Turkey is such a difficult thing to get right, but I find that it always works really well in a curry. The secret is to spice the heck out of it and then chill the meatballs for as long as you can so that they don’t just collapse into a huge wodge of meat paste.

  2. Amy says:

    YES. I’m so glad I’m not the only person who cooks when stressed! As soon as I feel low or helpless, I make something that involves lots of effort to soothe myself.

    And I love curry after a few days too. And chilli. Anything with complex flavours ALWAYS tastes nicer after it’s had a while to sink in.

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