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Ismir Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

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“When Greek chef Theodore Kyriakou first opened his London restaurant The Real Greek, this dish was one of his "runaway successes, despite a heated debate among all concerned as to just what they should be called in English. Were they meatballs, dumplings or even rissoles?" Whatever their name, they are delicious, and like all his recipes, this recipe retains "the true essence of Greek food (and its) traditional ingredients". And like all his recipes, this is a recipe for those who want to make authentic recipes, not those in which half the ingredients are pre-packaged shortcuts. His recipes may take a little longer to make, but the reward is in the flavour and aroma of the finished dish. I am posting this recipe for the 2005 Zaar World Tour.”
2hrs 20mins

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Start by making the meatballs so that you can rest them while you are making the sauce. Knead the minced lamb with breadcrumbs, powdered cumin, chopped onion, garlic, olives and the beaten egg. Season the mixture with salt and the freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Wet your hands and mould the mixture into spheres, about 2-cm in diameter (2.5-cm = 1 inch), and leave them in the fridge for the flavours to meld.
  3. To make the sauce, add the jar of passata, 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil and the sugar to a large non-reactive saucepan, and pass the tomatoes and their juice through a sieve into the pan. They will add extra flavour to the ready-made passata.
  4. Season with salt and the freshly ground pepper, add the muslin-wrapped spices and leave the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes; and remember to skim it regularly.
  5. Add the onions to the pan and allow the sauce to simmer for another hour until they are cooked, then cook for another 20 minutes.
  6. Blanch the remaining cracked olives in boiling water for 2 minutes and add them to the tomato sauce. Place the lid on the pan, and leave them to simmer gently.
  7. Roll the meatballs in flour and fry them in a little olive oil to brown them and firm them before they are added to the sauce.
  8. Place the yoghurt in a small bowl or jug and add the cumin seeds and stir well. Cover, and leave in the fridge.
  9. Bring the sauce to simmering point, add the meatballs and leave to simmer with the lid on until cooked, about 15 minutes.
  10. Serve the meatballs on boiled, long-grain rice, with the sauce in which they were cooked, with the cool, cumin yoghurt on the side.

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