Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Curried meatballs from South Africa

South African meatballs are called 'rissoles" in more English-influenced circles and 'frikkadels" in more Africaner circles. I wound up using the Afrikaner name because it is more accurate, closely resembling the words for meatball, or meat cake, in Denmark, parts of Germany and Holland. Rissoles, by contrast, are more like croquettes in their original European meaning.

I wrote a column on meatballs around the world in my food commentary and recipe series in the Athens Banner-Herald. Here's the South African feature.

The curried version of frikkadels I selected is a fusion of several of the food traditions that form South African cuisine, including Dutch-Afrikaner, Indian, Cape Malay and English.

South African Frikkadels in Curry Gravy


2 tablespoons finely minced onion
1 egg
1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/8 to 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground beef or lamb
Flour for dusting
Oil for frying

Combine onion, egg, bread crumbs and seasonings in large bowl. Add meat and combine, handling mixture gently, without kneading it.

Form into 12 burger-shaped cakes, 3/4-inch thick. Dust lightly with flour on both sides.

Fry over medium heat in pan with a little oil, turning occasionally, until lightly browned. Remove to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons oil.

Curry Sauce:

1 small-medium onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2-inch fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup water
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 medium tomato, cored and chopped
Salt to taste

In pan used for the meatballs, fry onion gently with the reserved oil, stirring frequently. When they begin to turn golden, add garlic and ginger. Stir and fry 1 minute.

Add curry powder plus pepper. Fry very gently, stirring, 1 minute.

Add water, apple and tomato. Simmer gently, covered, stirring frequently, until apple softens. Add sufficient extra water to make the sauce somewhat soupy. Add salt to taste. Simmer 1 minute.

Add fried meatballs to the curry. Simmer, turning them occasionally, for 5 minutes. Taste sauce, and add salt if needed.

Serve with rice.


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