On the menu today: soft and tender zucchini turkey meatballs. These come together quickly and simmer in a homemade red curry sauce using a handful of pantry staples.
The sauce is made using canned tomatoes, curry powder, fresh ginger and garlic, plus smooth, tangy yogurt.
I know you're probably like, yeesh, meatballs from scratch and curry sauce from scratch is probably time-consuming and complicated but NO! The only thing that takes a little bit of time is the sauce, which requires an hour of simmer time.
Other than that, the meatballs come together in a FLASH and do not have many ingredients. You guys know how I feel about recipes with 45 items required. Ain't nobody got time for that.
Also, once you learn how to make this delicious sauce, you're going to want to eat it over and over again, and you can. The first night, we had it with the turkey meatballs. The second time I made it, I added a can of chickpeas and a box of baby spinach for a delicious vegetarian stew we ate over rice. Really good, really simple.
How Do You Make Homemade Curry Sauce?
There are a LOT of methods out there for making homemade curry sauce, and I'll be the first to tell you my recipe is very cut down, with good reason. This is meant to be an attainable dish on a weeknight or without much planning, so I've removed a lot of the additional spices and such that are typically required. I don't think you'll mind.
What Ingredients Go Into Homemade Curry Sauce?
I used curry powder + curry paste as my key ingredients, as well as canned tomatoes and coconut milk. The sauce also has butter, tomato paste, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, and full-fat yogurt.
Why Do You Use Whole Tomatoes Instead of Diced or Crushed?
You should always buy whole tomatoes (the best quality you can find) and crush yourself. The whole tomatoes in a can are the highest quality, where as the ones that are sold cut up are often seconds or bruised, etc.
What Type/Brand of Coconut Milk Do You Use?
I highly recommend buying coconut milk that is unsweetened and from a reputable brand. I recommend Thai Kitchen. The first time I made this recipe, I unknowingly used sweetened coconut milk and I did not love the outcome. I also personally do not use "lite" or "reduced fat" versions.
What Kind Of Curry Powder Do You Use?
The challenge with curry powder is that it's a blend of spices, with thousands of different varieties. Typically it includes coriander, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, cinnamon, and more. Because my blend may be different than yours, I recommend you try the sauce at the end of the simmer time to see if it needs more curry powder, otherwise the spice can get bitter during the simmering process. This sweet curry powder blend from The Spice House is spectacular.
I want to make this recipe spicy. How can I do that?
It's fairly simple to make this recipe spicy, and you can do so during the cooking process or afterwards. If you want, you can add a half or a whole jalapeño to the pot while cooking the sauce, then simply remove it before pouring the sauce over the meatballs. Alternatively, you can pour some hot sauce of your choice over the dish before serving.
How Do You Make Turkey Meatballs That Stay Moist?
These meatballs are so incredibly soft, and I attribute that to two things: using meat with a higher fat ratio and the addition of zucchini.
What Kind Of Ground Turkey Do You Buy?
If you are going to a butcher, ask for a blend of white + dark meat, this will create a better mixture for the meatballs. If you're in the grocery store, buy 94% lean/6% fat ground turkey. It's way more delicious than 99% fat-free turkey.
Why Do You Add Zucchini To Your Turkey Meatballs?
I wanted to make these meatballs without adding breadcrumbs or other fillers, and when I was recipe testing, I felt they needed something more than just egg to hold them together, and bulk up the meat a little. Freshly grated zucchini was the perfect addition. These meatballs are undoubtedly going to be my new go-to!
How Are These Meatballs Cooked?
The meatballs are seared, ideally in a cast-iron pan, and then simmered in the homemade curry sauce. You can simmer them for 30-60 minutes with awesome results.
What Substitutions Can Be Made?
If you don't have ground turkey, you can use ground chicken (same recommendation about fat percentage applies).
If you don't have curry paste, you can leave it, but prepare for a milder sauce.
If you don't have coconut milk, you can use heavy cream, half + half or regular whole milk.
What Can You Do If You're Short On Time?
You can use a store-bought simmer sauce, like Maya Kaimal brand. Alternatively, if you wanted a recipe with an Italian spin, you can simmer the meatballs in a high-quality marinara sauce.
What Do You Serve These Turkey Meatballs With?
Jasmine rice + naan, or anything that can sop up that delicious curry sauce in the pan!Print
Soft turkey meatballs studded with zucchini are served in a rich and creamy coconut curry sauce.
For the curry sauce:
4 tbsp butter, divided
2 tbs garlic, minced, ~4 cloves
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced, ~1-inch piece
1.5 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp red Thai curry paste
3 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp kosher salt, plus more if necessary
1 14oz can full-fat, unsweetened, coconut milk
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, I like San Marzano variety
1 tsp sugar
½ cup full-fat plain yogurt
For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground turkey, preferably 94% lean/6% fat ratio
1 small zucchini, grated (about ~¾ cup)
1 large egg
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
- In a medium saucepan, warm butter with garlic and ginger.
- Once the garlic begins to brown and get fragrant, add curry powder, tomato paste, and red Thai curry paste.
- Mix with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to combine the paste and allow it to cook for a minute or two.
- Next, add canned tomatoes and coconut milk.
- Add salt, sugar and taste. I would recommend waiting until the simmering process is done before adding more salt as the flavors will concentrate with time.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat down to low. Simmer for one hour.
- Use a potato masher or large wooden spoon to mush the whole tomatoes as much as possible. You will need to do this a few times throughout the simmering process as the tomatoes get softer. You want very small chunks, or none at all.
- While the sauce cooks, prepare your turkey meatballs.
- Combine all of the ingredients listed and mix. Don't over mix, just combine.
- Bring a #8 large cast-iron skillet to a high heat, or a nonstick pan with a 10-inch diameter.
- The meatball mixture is a bit soft, so you shouldn't be able to roll the balls by hand. Instead, use an ice-cream scoop to scoop the mixture directly into the hot cast iron. Each meatball should be slightly less than ¼ cup of meat mixture. If you don't have an ice-cream scoop, you can use a ¼ cup measuring scoop, but don't fill it to the top. (You can also make these any size you want, this is just how I made mine...)
- Stand near the pan with your bowl of meat and the scoop. Scoop the meatballs into the hot cast-iron until the pan is full. You should get ~16 patties.
- Cook the patties for 5-6 minutes per side on high heat. The goal is simply to sear the meat, not to cook it through.
- Once it's done searing, turn off the heat and allow the meat to just hang out until the sauce is done.
- When the sauce is done simmering, taste it. You may need to add another pinch of salt or another pinch of curry powder.
- Finally, add yogurt and mix.
- Turn meatball pan back up to a medium heat and pour sauce over the meatballs.
- Let the mixture come to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low
- Cook covered for 30 minutes, or up to 60 minutes.
- Serve warm, over rice or naan!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Category: Meat & Chicken
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Indian
Keywords: turkey meatballs, meatballs, indian recipes, indian food, easy indian, simple indian, curry sauce, homemade curry sauce, homemade meatballs in curry sauce
Want another simple Indian recipe? Try my red lentil daal, which is made with only 9 ingredients!