Mint in your Lamb Meatballs?

Mint is our ingredient of the season. Of course we made mojitos. We also made some saladsiced teaagua fresca, a body scrub, and… deodorant!

I’ve been sitting on this recipe ever since Sarah and I picked mint as the ingredient of the season. It’s not that mint is the star of the dish, it’s just that, when do you ever expect to see mint in a meatball recipe? You might think it’s expected in a lamb meatball recipe, but the cookbook actually refers to these as beef meatballs. And mint isn’t the only thing flavoring this dish; it calls for four different fresh herbs and over a half dozen spices! If that sounds complicated, it’s worth the effort.



This recipe comes from the cookbook Jerusalem. If it sounds familiar, I shared a couple of recipes from the book in April. Or maybe you read a review of the book, or heard that a Jerusalem craze is taking over the nation (it’s the #1 cookbook on Amazon in the natural food cooking category). I have to admit that I didn’t realize it was that popular until writing this post, but I completely understand the compassion for this book. The range of recipes are exciting, they are made from ingredients that I want to eat, the book’s photographs are wonderful, the descriptions of places and history transport you… Through food, this book blends religions and cultures, if only it could bring peace to a troubled land.

The ingredient lists below are modified from the original recipe, but are exactly what I used for my dish. For example, the original recipe call for a small portion of lamb mixed with beef. It also called for a lot of ground black pepper, in the meatballs, sauce, and seasoning blend. I didn’t use any, and so I wrote the recipe to reflect that. 

Meatball Ingredients

  • 1 lb lamb
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp each chopped flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, mint, and dill
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tsp baharat spice mix (see below)
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp capers, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt

Remaining Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups fava beans
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 green onions, cut at an angle into 1/2 inch segments
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp each chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint, dill, and cilantro


Making the Meatballs

  • Place all meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix well with your hands.
  • Form into ping-pong sized balls.
  • Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large frying pan (with a lid) over medium heat.
  • Sear half the meatballs, turning them until they are brown all over for about 5 minutes. Remove, add another 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil to the pan and cook the remaining meatballs.


 Making the Main Dish

  • The fava beans. Shuck your fava beans if they are still in their shells. Place the beans in a pot of well-salted boiling water and blanch for about 2 minutes. Immediately rinse the beans under cold water. Remove and discard the skin from about half of the beans.
  • The stock part 1. Wipe out the pan used to cook the meatballs. Heat 3 Tbsp of the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onion, and saute for 3 minutes. Add the unpeeled fava beans, 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/3 cup of the chicken stock, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
  • The stock part 2. Return the meatballs to the frying pan holding the unpeeled fava beans. Add the remaining chicken stock, cover the pan, and simmer gently for 25 minutes. If the sauce is runny after this time, remove the lid to let it reduce slightly. The meatballs will soak up the juices after they stop cooking, so you don’t want to loose too much liquid with the reduction.
  • Before serving. Add the remaining herbs, lemon juice, and peeled fava beans. Serve with coucous, over rice, or with a good bread!


Baharat Spice Mix

*You might be able to find this mix in some markets. If you can’t, place the following spices in a spice grinder until a fine powder is formed. I use a coffee grinder that’s reserved just for this purpose. 

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, grated



I’ve made this dish twice now, and it is a true family favorite. For our little family of three, this recipe makes enough for two meals, which is great, because if there were only leftovers for 1, we would have a problem. Tonight I ate my leftovers in a small sub roll, with all of that delicious gravy soaking into the bun ~ it was a new-fangled meatball sub!

I really hope you’ll give these a try. Or, come over to my house, because I would love an excuse to make them! {Sarah here: The entire time I read this post, I was wishing I lived closer to you! I would have snuck over and ate Little A’s leftovers, hoping that he wouldn’t hold it against me!}

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