Cold & rainy – the weather has been like this for few days. Although wanting to stay in bed all day with a novel & tea mug on the side, this afternoon, I yearned to walk outside the apartment. After a week of grey, the warmth of sun rays glistening through the rain drops still sticking on the window were calling me. I put on the boots and walked out, shivering, looking for a cozy corner. It was fiercely windy but sitting on the bench cornered as to block the gusts, the sun soaked me up. As the rays percolated through thick knits of my gloves, I felt a magical sense of rejuvenation and warmth.The clean feeling after the rains always draws me, the blue skies softly feathered with clouds, the biting humid air,wet cobbled pavements, the vivid green of fauna. ..It felt as if everything had been renewed, repainted on nature’s canvas ..all over again.
I walked back to the apartment, constantly admiring the crispness around me. Sun was fading behind the cloud cover, the dullness was getting an upper hand again. Stepping inside, I quietly settled myself in the kitchen, soup was the only thing on my mind. Whenever I have a desperate longing to nestle myself in a cozy blanket slurping on a steaming bowl of broth, this meatball soup is what I resort to. Not only is it comforting but intensely flavorful. I do not have big number of soup recipes in my repertoire but whatever handful are there, they are immensely satisfying. The only thing I am fussy about “my” kind of soups is that have to be clear & brothy.The thick, blended up, cream laden versions do not work for me.
Dad always insists that this soup tastes better the next day. Amid cooking the meals to be eaten within in the next few hours, I saw mom mixing spices with the mince, pinching the meat, squeezing the balls, murmuring all the while about the non ending kitchen chores. Her kitchen was overly busy during winter evenings, soups were prefixed to regular meals, any one coming back from work or school wouldn’t settle without a bowl.
The soup preparation takes a little extra work, but since you will be making a pot full, it will last you for at least a day or two and yes dad is right, it tastes much best the next day. With a rolled chapati (indian flatbread) to dunk in, this can even make a super supper.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
For the meatballs (Makes about 15 balls of the size shown)
- 1 lb minced mutton (You can use minced lamb, chicken, pork or beef)
- 3 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2″ fresh ginger shoot,finely chopped
- 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp oil (canola or vegetable)
- 1 medium whole egg
For the Soup
- 1.5 tbsp oil
- 1/4 cup onion paste (I add roughly chopped red onion to blender & make a smooth paste adding little or no water)
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste( I use microplane to quickly mince 2-3 cloves of garlic & fresh, peeled shoots of ginger)
- 1″ cinnamon stick
- 1 small tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
- 2 cloves
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 3/4 tsp kashmiri mirch powder (or paprika, adjust to tolerance)
- 2 medium roma tomatoes, pureed in a blender
- 3 tbsp thick dahi (plain yogurt)
- 3.5-4 cups water
- Salt to taste
- Garnish – fresh cilantro leaves, fresh lemon juice (optional)
In a bowl, place all the ingredients for the meatballs. Using your fingers, lightly combine everything. Spread some oil on your palms and pinch balls of the mixture and line them on a plate. Cover with a cling film and refrigerate till ready to use.
Using a mortar & pestle or coffee grinder, coarsely grind black peppercorns, cloves, coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Set aside.In a wide-mouthed,pot (pot should be large enough so that all the meatballs can be placed in a single layer), on medium,heat oil to smoking point. Temper the oil with cinnamon stick & tejpatta. Wait for 10 seconds. Add the onion, garlic-ginger paste next, reduce heat to low,fry till you see it getting thick and changing color till the raw smell is gone,about 5-7 minutes.
Next, continuing on the low heat add the ground spices along with tomato puree, dahi and salt.Mix everything and fry for another 8-10 minutes or till you see oil separating on the sides of the pot. Add water next and on medium heat, check the seasoning and bring the broth to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce heat to low again and add the refrigerated meatballs into the simmering broth one by one. Cover the pot and let cook for 10-12 minutes.
Note:- I like meatballs cooked through and hence the cooking time.You will need to adjust the time depending on how rare you like your meatballs or the tupe of mince meat used. To check whether the meatballs have cooked to your liking, after 5-7 minutes of simmering in the broth, using a fork take out one ball and cut into half. You will be able to decide on extra cooking time depending on how pink it is on the inside.
Once done let sit covered for at least 1.5- 2 hours, undisturbed. Whenever ready to eat, reheat on low, discard the tejpatta & cinnamon stick, garnish with cilantro, squirt of fresh lemon juice and serve.