Monday, May 11, 2009

Meat Balls (Keftedes)

KeftedesAfter I watched the 2003 Greek movie, Politiki Kouzina (Istanbul Cuisine as it is directly translated in English or A Touch of Spice as it better known internationally) my Greek meatballs became spicier.

This is a story about a Greek boy who was born in Istanbul, Turkey. His grandfather had a small store selling spices in Istanbul and giving lessons to the little boy about not only spices and cooking but also about life and faith. When a political conflict between Greece and Turkey erupted, his family along with many other Greek families were deported from their hometown of Istanbul with just a few belongings. However, his grandfather was left behind. His family escaped to Athens, Greece, yet they were not fully embraced by their own people in Greece. After more than three decades, the boy, later became a world renowned astronomer, went back to see his dying grandfather for the first time since his family had left Istanbul. Throughout of this journey, he realized there was a touch of an important spice missing in his life.

In this beautiful movie, there was a scene in which the grandfather gave this little boy a tip of how to make delicious meatballs. Adding a little bit of cumin and cinnamon gives them incredible flavor. Right after I watched the movie, I tried to cook Greek meatballs and followed the grandfather’s tip. It came out excellent! I loved it and since then my Greek meatballs cannot be done without these hidden flavors.

The traditional Greek meatballs are usually fried coated with flour. However, this time I baked them in the oven, which made my life much easier. These meatballs can be served as an appetizer or part of a sandwich.

KeftedesGreek meatballs Recipe
Ingredients (about 20 to 25 meatballs):
1 lb ground beef
½ cup panko (bread crumbs)
1 finely chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic
¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf sparsely
¼ cup finely chopped mint
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus 3 tbsp olive oil for frying the onion and the garlic
1 egg
½ cup red wine
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of cumin and cinnamon
Lemon juice

1. Heat 3tbsp of olive oil and the garlic in a large pot and fry the chopped onion until the onion becomes transparent.
2. Preheat the oven to 360 F degrees.
3. Place the onion and garlic with the rest of the ingredients in a big bowl. Mix them well. Leave the mixture for 10-15 minutes in room temperature.
4. Break off pieces of the mixture and make small meat balls and place them on an oven pan.
5. Bake them for 25-30 minutes. Transfer them to a serving plate. Sprinkle them with lemon juice. Enjoy them!

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