Indian Cooking 201 -- Recipe #3: Meatball Curry

Indian Cooking 201 — Recipe #3: Meatball Curry

Meatball curry

Indian Cooking 201 – In this lesson you’ll learn an easy weeknight meatball curry — perfect for kids! 

  • You’ll add another quick, kid-friendly curry to your repertoire while putting to good use the ground spices you mastered when learning to make a basic Indian curry in the Indian Cooking 101 courses
  • You’ll learn to turn ground meat into a unique and different meatball dish that everyone will love! 
  • As with all 201 level recipes, you will continue to learn how to make authentic Indian dishes using mostly ground spices that you can find at your local supermarket (no need to go to an Indian grocer quite yet)
  • You will continue to master my 5-10-5 Rule — a cheat sheet I created for my husband Sean of the basic things you need in your pantry to make a variety of delicious Indian dishes

The best way to build your knowledge of Indian cooking is to cook often. Just like learning music, a sport, or a language, the key is to practice. One way to do this is simply to work Indian dishes into your weekly dinner rotation so that preparing Indian food at home becomes as routine as the other dishes you usually make. This recipe is a perfect candidate for inclusion: easy to make, tasty, and presented in a form everyone (especially kids) loves: meatballs! When I was growing up in Canada, my dad created this recipe, which my sister Myna and I especially liked for dinner on cold, snowy winter evenings. Somehow the conversation would always go something like this: Daddy would say to us “Hey girls, what do you want for dinner tonight?” and when we were stumped he would suddenly remember “what about meatball curry?” to which we would enthusiastically reply “oh yes!” and that would be it. It’s kind of funny that we like the recipe so much but somehow it was a great thrill to remember it. I guess we didn’t have it as often as we should have 🙂   This dish is pure comfort food and might change your mind about what you can do with ground meat and meatballs! We usually eat it with steamed basmati rice or naan, with a side of raita or plain yogurt.

Daddy’s Meatball Curry

Serves 4


For the meatballs

  • 1 lb ground chicken OR turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Pam cooking spray

For the curry

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry red chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste (I like Muir Glen’s organic tomato paste)
  • 1-1.5 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons cream (half-and-half is fine)
  • Fresh cilantro, finely chopped (for serving)


  1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, beat egg gently with a fork. Add ground turkey, salt, breadcrumbs, and curry powder. Mix well and form into 1/2-inch balls.
  2. Line an oven-proof baking tray with foil and spray with Pam or cooking spray. Place balls on tray and bake for 5 minutes (set timer). Then turn each ball and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a deep, wide skillet on medium to medium-high heat. Add the dry red chilli flakes right away–when they start to glisten and sizzle slightly around the edges, you will know the oil is ready! (a tip that has saved me many, many times).
  4. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger (yes, all at once), and sauté until golden (you don’t need to worry about browning them or caramelizing them–they just need to become golden and glassy).
  5. Add the cumin, coriander, garam masala, turmeric, salt, and tomato paste and lower the heat a bit so you can combine it well without burning.
  6. Add the water and mix everything together and cover, increasing the heat. Bring to a boil and let it boil gently for 3-4 minutes so the flavors combine. Add the cooked meatballs, bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
  7. Turn off heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of cream.
  8. Top with fresh cilantro.
Ingredients for a basic meatball curry

Main ingredients for a basic meatball curry: starting from the top left: ground chicken, onion, garlic, ginger root, canola oil, tomato paste, breadcrumbs, salt, egg, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, red chilli flakes, coriander, curry powder.

Raw meatballs on a foil-lined sheet

Use ground chicken or ground turkey for these low-fat meatballs that are baked in the oven

Half-cooked meatballs on a foil-lined sheet in oven

After 5 minutes in a 375F oven, turn each meatball over and bake for another 5 minutes

Sauteing onions with oil and spices until glassy

After heating red chilli flakes in canola oil, add onion, garlic, and ginger all at once and saute until glassy

Adding spices and tomato paste to onions for meatball curry

Whenever you add spices and tomato paste, lower the heat a bit so it doesn’t burn

The base of your curry should look like this once the onions, garlic, ginger, spices, and tomato paste are combined well

Gently boiling meatball curry

After you add water to the base and let it boil gently for a few minutes, add the baked meatballs and bring to a boil

Adding a touch of cream to simmered meatball curry

Once the curry has simmered for 10 minutes, turn off heat and stir in cream — adding a touch of cream is why homemade Indian food always feels lighter than the heavier creamy dishes from Indian restaurants