Food is a huge part of our East Indian culture. East Indian curries, breads, and sweets leave an impact on many people even outside our culture. This ball curry dish is one of my favorites; so delicious, it feels like a warm hug.
A bit different from the Anglo-Indian Meatball Curry recipe and the Goan Ball Curry recipes, our East Indian meatballs are cooked before they are added to the curry and there’s also a difference in the spices and ingredients used. Even in our East Indian homes, each ‘aunty’ or ‘granny’ has a different way of making meatball curry, this is mom’s moms’ version aka my granny’s version.
And don’t worry, when we say ‘ball’ curry it doesn’t refer to any kapuras (goat’s balls) or other body parts. Although bull balls or testicles are a delicacy in some countries, as are kapuras over here, our meatballs for the curry are made of minced beef.
That being said, although kapuras are normal fare here, I did have the opportunity to eat bull’s balls at Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi Kenya but didn’t have the courage.
Anyway, back to our ethnic East Indian meatball curry recipe, why not make it at home and let us know what you think?
What Ingredients Do You Need To Make East Indian Ball Curry?
For the ground masala which we just refer to as masala, you need the following spices and ingredients; red chilies, coriander seeds, turmeric powder, cinnamon sticks, garlic flakes, khus-khus, jeera, peppercorns, cardamons, cloves, teel or sesame seeds, and copra which is sundried coconut.
To make the meatballs:
You will need minced beef, onions, green chilies, ginger, garlic, and bread. (If you don’t want to use bread, use two eggs to hold the meatballs together.)
For the curry:
You will need ghee, onions, potatoes, salt, ground masala, and meatballs.
Disclaimer: Since we’re located in Mumbai, India, we are only allowed to consume buffalo beef since cow beef is banned. However, depending on the country you’re in, you can use any beef you prefer.
How To Make Meatball Curry – East Indian Style?
Part 1: Make The Meatballs
You can start with the meatballs; keep the minced beef drained and ready. Chop the onions, green chilies, ginger, and garlic real fine. Or you can use a chopper to mince them. We do that when we want a finer mixture. But whichever way you prefer is fine.
Add the finely chopped onion, garlic, green chilies, and ginger to the mince and mix.
Soak a few bread slices in water. After a while, squeeze the water from the bread slices and add them to the minced beef as well. This helps give the meatballs a softer texture. This step is optional. Otherwise, you can use two eggs to hold the meatballs together. Or if you prefer ‘tagda’ or chunky meatballs, you can skip the bread.
Mix the bread and chopped onions, ginger, garlic, and chilies well into the minced beef and make small golfball-sized balls like in the pic below. Place these balls in a Kadai (wok) or a frying pan and allow them to cook in their own juices so that they are basically steamed.
Choose your vessel or pot depending on how much you intend to make. We’ve used kadais or frying pans at different times.
Part 2: Make the Curry for the East Indian Meat Balls
You then keep the cooked meatballs aside and start with the preparation for the curry. Soak some tamarind pieces in water and make juice or pulp.
In a mixer-grinder, add all the other ingredients I’ve listed above for the masala and grind them together with a little water and make a paste.
Heat ghee in a pan. Slice some onions fine and fry them in ghee till soft. Then add the ground masala and fry. Add the tamarind water and allow this mixture to simmer on a medium flame for a while. Add in a few bay leaves for flavor as well. Add in a few pieces of chopped potatoes and bring to a boil.
Lastly, add in the cooked meatballs and allow them to soak and cook with the curry for a little while longer.
East Indian Meatball Curry
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Ingredients to be ground for Ground Masala
- 8 Dried Red Chillies Dry
- 2 teaspoon Coriander Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 3 inch Cinnamon Sticks (Dalchini)
- 12 Garlic Cloves or Garlic Flakes
- 1 teaspoon Khus-khus Poppy Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Cumin (Jeera) Cumin
- .5 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
- 3 Green Cardamon Pods (Choti Elaichi)
- 6 Cloves (Lavang)
- .5 teaspoon Til Sesame seeds
- 4 Tablespoon Copra Sundried Coconut (See alternatives in notes.)
For the Meat Balls
- 1 kilogram Minced Beef Or Veal
- 3 Onions Large
- 6 Green Chillies – Fresh
- 3 inch Ginger
- 6 Garlic Cloves or Garlic Flakes
- 5 slices Bread To be soaked in water
For the MeatBall Curry
- 3 Tablespoon Ghee (Indian clarified butter)
- 2 Onions Large
- 1 teaspoon Salt Or as required
- 3 Potatoes
- Ground Masala From above
- 5 Tamarind Pieces To make a juice or pulp
- 300 ml Water For Tamarind to soak
- 3 Bay Leaves
Make the Meatballs
- If you've bought fresh minced meat, you're ready to go. Else, keep the minced beef (or veal) out of the freezer and allow to thaw.
- Finely chop the onions, green chilies, ginger and garlic or use a mixer-grinder.
- Soak bread slices in water for a little while. (If you don't want to use bread, use two eggs.)
- Add the finely chopped ingredients to the mince.
- Squeeze the water from the bread and add the bread to the mince too.
- Mix well, make small balls and place in a frying pan and cover the lid.
- Allow the meatballs to cook in their own juices for about 15 minutes.
Grind the Masala
- Add the dry red chilies, coriander seeds, turmeric powder, cinnamon sticks, garlic flakes, khus-khus, jeera, peppercorns, cardamons, cloves, sesame seeds, and copra (or roasted fresh coconut) to the mixer-grinder.
- Grind these ingredients together with water and form a paste.
Prepare the Curry
- Heat ghee in a pan and add onions and fry till soft for about 5 minutes.
- Add the ground masala to the onions and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Add in the tamarind juice, bay leaves, salt and chopped potatoes.
- Allow this to simmer for about 5 more minutes and lastly add the meat balls.
- Cook for about 5 mins more and your ball curry is ready!
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- Cook the meatballs in a frying pan or a kadai (wok) depending on the quantity.
- Adding bread to the minced meat makes the meatballs softer.
- Granny used to use eggs in the meatball curry, mom started using bread because we loved the softer meatballs.
- The tamarind juice gives the ball curry a tangy flavor.
- If you don’t have copra, you can roast freshly grated coconut and use that instead.
Nutrition (Per Serving)
Disclaimer: Nutrition Information per serving is estimated by a third party software based on the ingredients used, and is for informational purposes only. It will vary from product to product, based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients. Please consult the package labels of the ingredients you use, or chat with your dietician for specific details.
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Cooking Tips & Tricks
- You can use a frying pan or a kadai (wok) to cook the meat balls depending on the quantity you make.
- Adding bread to the minced meat makes the meatballs softer.
- The tamarind juice gives the ball curry a tangy flavour.
- If you don’t have copra, you can roast freshly grated coconut on a tawa or pan and use this instead.
- You can steam extra meatballs and store in the freezer for a few months. This way you only have to prepare the curry on the day you want it.
- Serve with rice, roti, and salad or pickled garlic and pickled onions.
- Don’t want a curry of the minced beef? Try these East Indian potato chops.
Questions About Ball Curry
How Long Can You Store Ball Curry?
You can store ball curry in an air-tight container for about 3 months in the freezer or in the fridge for about 1 week.
Why Is It Called Ball Curry?
It’s called East Indian ball curry because we shape the minced beef into little balls and then cook them.
Is It Better To Fry Or Steam Meatballs?
That depends on the recipe and dish you are making. For this dish, the meatballs need to be steamed, however, if we make cutlets, then they are fried.
If you want our traditional East Indian recipes on hand, the Abby's Plate Cookbook Series books are available online or in-store in most countries.
Christmas with the Rebellos:
East Indian Meals & Desserts from Abby's Plate
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Other East Indian Recipes You Might Like
Although Sarah has worked in travel for 15 years and specializes in Africa, she loves music, wine, food, and travel. Armed with her Canon, she’s on a mission to photograph food showcasing her East Indian community’s traditional recipes on the blog. And Abby is forever grateful!