When it comes to dealing with dishes served on or with pita bread, I usually let restaurants take care of the whole deal. Sure, making a batch of lamb meatballs is no big deal. Just pick out the right seasonings, add ground lamb, and mix away. No, the problem comes with the extras. They need a partner in crime to balance out all the flavors. Unfortunately, I don't often have the time to whip up three or four different sauces, salads, and other condiments. In fact, on this night, I basically only had time for one.
Could I manage to get everything accomplished with just one sauce? I wanted a yogurt-based sauce that could provide the right tang to balance out the meatiness of the lamb. What I didn't want was a sauce that's too thin and insubstantial, pooling in the bottom of the pita. That's when I came across the idea of mixing pomegranate seeds into the sauce to add texture, tartness, and a little pop to each bite. Along with the seeds, I added some mint, salt and pepper, and the sauce was ready to go. That was easy.
The lamb meatballs are well spiced and savory, while the sauce is tangy and creamy. They are both housed in a warm and fluffy pita, which helps complete the meal.
- For the Lamb Meatballs
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 red onion, grated on a box grater
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- For the Yogurt and Pomegranate Seed Sauce
- 5 ounces Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons milk or water
- Seeds from 1 pomegranate
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 pitas, warmed
For the lamb meatballs: In a large bowl, combine the ground lamb, fresh mint, cayenne, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt, and red onion. Mix together with your hands until thoroughly mixed and slightly sticky. Form mixture into 16 balls, approximately two inches wide.
Adjust top oven rack to six inches below the broiler. Preheat broiler to high. Add oil to rimmed baking sheet. Add the meatballs, and roll them around until they are coated in the oil. Arrange in two rows in such a way that they will cook evenly under the broiler element. Transfer pan to the broiler, and cook until meatballs are browned on the top, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully remove the pan, and use a pair of tongs to flip the meatballs. Return pan to the oven, and cook until browned on the other side, another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove and set pan aside.
For the yogurt and pomegranate seed sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt and milk. When smooth, add pomegranate seeds and fresh mint. Stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stuff each pita with about a quarter of the sauce and four of the lamb meatballs. Serve immediately.