Sharing my version of a popular Indian dish, creating a comforting bowl of saffron meatball korma curry. Top the curry with homemade pickled onions and serve with rice and naan for a beautiful meal.
Saffron Meatball Korma Curry
- 1 lb ground turkey
- ⅓ cup panko
- ¼ cup grated onion
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt plain
- 1 tablespoon dill chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 large egg
Saffron korma curry
- ¼ cup whole raw almonds
- ⅓ cup boiling water
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
- ¼ cup warm water
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- 1 jalapeno seeded, chopped
- ½ cup Greek yogurt plain
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 tablespoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 2 tablespoons harissa paste
- 2 Roma tomatoes chopped
- 1 cup chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- ¼ cup pickled onions
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt plain
- naan and rice for serving
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the meatballs. Combine ground turkey with panko, cilantro, yogurt, dill, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, and egg. Mix until well combined and shape into 12 meatballs. Place meatballs on prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make saffron korma curry. Soak almonds in ⅓ cup boiling water for 30 minutes in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine saffron threads with warm water and let sit.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add chopped onion along with ¼ cup water and saute until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Add minced garlic, ginger, and jalapeno and saute for one more minute.
- Add sauteed onions in a blender along with soaked almonds with water and ½ cup Greek yogurt. Blend until you have a smooth paste.
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same saute pan over medium heat. Add coriander, cumin, and cardamom and heat for 30 seconds. Add onion puree and harissa paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chopped tomatoes, saffron with water, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the meatballs to the curry and simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with fresh cilantro, pickled onions, and dollops of Greek yogurt. Serve with naan and rice.
Watch how to make this:
Over the years I realized how little I know about Indian cuisine. There are so many beautiful dishes that I've never had the chance to try. And so, I try to explore the cuisine by following recipes and making them at home. Lately, I've been very into korma curry. From what I researched, korma curry is a mild curry that uses yogurt, plenty of coriander, and nuts. After trying a few, I whipped up my own version. Although my saffron meatball korma curry isn't traditional, it's still incredibly flavorful!
This saffron meatball korma curry follows the main idea of the traditional dish. It uses a blend of onions, nuts, and yogurt to create a creamy sauce. However, instead of braising meat in the sauce, I decided to create meatballs. I also incorporated saffron and harissa to amp up the flavor.
- Ground turkey: You can use any kind of ground meat including ground chicken, pork, turkey, beef, or lamb, or a combination of any of the meats.
- Panko: The Japanese breadcrumb has larger crumbs than regular breadcrumbs. It is used to prevent the meatballs from becoming dry. You can also use regular breadcrumbs.
- Greek yogurt: The dairy helps provide moisture to the meatballs while adding a slightly tangy flavor. Use plain Greek yogurt or substitute it with milk if desired.
- Almonds: The raw whole almonds help thicken the curry and bring a creamy element to the sauce.
- Saffron: A spice with subtle earthy-sweet flavor notes. Although this spice is very expensive, a little goes a long way.
- Harissa paste: A spicy North African chili condiment made from peppers and other spices. The spice level will vary according to the brand you use.
How to Make Saffron Meatball Korma Curry
Step 1: Prepare meatballs
Let's start by making the meatballs. You can use whichever meat you prefer, beef, turkey, chicken, pork, or a blend of two. I chose ground turkey but I've also made this dish with ground pork and loved it.
Combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs until well combined. Then, form about 12 large meatballs and place them on a baking sheet tray. The mixture is quite wet so it helps to use wet hands to shape the meatballs. You can also lightly oil your hands to prevent the mixture from sticking.
I like to make my meatballs fairly large because they tend to be more tender. However, you can make them smaller if you prefer. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Bake the meatballs only for 10 minutes at 425 degrees F. We're going to continue cooking them later on with the curry.
Step 2: Cook the korma curry
Set the meatballs aside and start working on the sauce. There are a lot of steps to make the sauce let's take it one step at a time.
First, soak the raw almonds in hot water to soften them up. Then, in another bowl, combine the saffron with warm water. It's important to bloom the saffron before using it in the curry because it allows all of the aromatic flavors to come out.
Next, cook the onions. We want the chopped onions to become nice and golden but they don't have to be caramelized. If the pan becomes too dry, add another tablespoon or two of water.
Then, blend those onions together with the soaked almonds, the water they soaked in, and yogurt. I kept the paste a little on the chunkier side because I personally like the little bits of nuts. However, feel free to puree the mixture until completely smooth to make a creamy sauce.
Now reheat the same pan and add the spices. Warm them up for about 30 seconds and add the onion mixture along with the harissa paste. You can use storebought harissa or the one I used from my doner kebab recipe.
Add the remaining ingredients including the tomatoes, saffron and water it soaked in, and chicken stock. Simmer the korma curry for 20 minutes on low; the sauce should barely be bubbling. Then, season with salt and pepper.
Step 3: Putting it all together
Finally, add the meatballs and let them simmer in the sauce for 10 minutes. Coat them with the curry, allowing them to soak up all those wonderful flavors.
Transfer the saffron meatball korma curry onto a serving plate and garnish it with pickled onions, cilantro, and dollops of yogurt. For a quick pickled onion recipe, I follow the one from my roasted potato salad.
Serve the saffron meatball korma curry with generous bowls of rice and warm naan. I gotta say, although my recipe is a little different than the traditional, I loved every bite! The pickled onions add that bit of acid while the harissa and saffron add extra layers of depth. There's no doubt that I'll be making this one again...soon!
Can I substitute the almonds with another nut?
Yes, you can use cashews instead! Follow the same steps as you would with the almonds.
Will the curry stay good the following day?
Similar to soups, this curry will taste even better the next day as the flavors as allowed to sit and marry.
What other side dishes can I serve with the korma meatball curry?
Along with the rice and naan, I like to serve it with classic Indian sides such as saag paneer or aloo gobi. Roasted vegetables such as roasted broccoli are also always a great option.
For more curry inspiration check out this cauliflower and chickpea vadouvan curry!