Pork Meatballs in Cumin Sauce


One simple thing has delayed me writing up this recipe. And that is that I have been unable to think of a catchy, succinct title for this recipe. In its first iteration, this was actually more of a soup but that transformed into more of a stew as I started fine-tuning the recipe so I could write it down. This is very versatile – use whatever vegetables you have on hand, or which need using up.  

This makes enough for about 4 people, although can be doubled and frozen for future use if you’d prefer to use the whole coconut in one go. You’ll need to plan ahead a little to open and soak the coconut overnight. I also prefer to the meatballs the day before, to make assembly easier on the day. Serve this with rice or noodles (we like gluten free rice noodles with this).

What you’ll need:

500 grams of pork mince

1 egg

1 teaspoon of salt

Few grinds of pepper

About 5 tablespoons of mild olive oil, divided

1 fresh coconut, opened and cut (you’ll need 200 grams of the coconut flesh and the milk from the centre of the coconut)

200 grams of fresh coconut, cut into pieces about 2 cm by 2 cm

Up to 1 litre of vegetable stock (or see instructions below if you prefer to use the juices from the meatballs)

1 onion, finely diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

5 teaspoons of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

Vegetables of choice (for example, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, silverbeet, courgettes, broad beans), sliced or diced into bite-size chunks

A 400 gram tin of diced/chopped tomatoes in tomato juice

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

To Make the Meatballs (this can be done in advance and will need to be done in advance if you want to use pan juices instead of stock):

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a baking tray with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

2. Place the mince, salt, pepper and egg together in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

3. Divide the mince mixture into 16 portions. Roughly shape each portion into a ball and place on to the greased baking tray.

4. Place the baking tray in the middle of the preheated oven to cook the meatballs for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked.

5. Remove the meatballs from the oven, allow to cool and store in the fridge if using within the next day or two, or in the freezer until you make the rest of the dish.

If you would prefer to use the juices from the meatballs instead of stock for this dish, pour a litre of boiling water over the pan once you have removed the meatballs to deglaze the pan and then pour the juices, water and any leftover bits into a jug to use in the next stage of this recipe.

To Prepare the Coconut (the day before you plan to cook this dish):

1. Cut the fresh coconut flesh into pieces about 2 cm by 2cm in size.

2. Put the coconut pieces in a jug and add 1 litre of stock or the pan juices from the meatballs, if you saved these in the preceding stage of this recipe.

3. Leave the jug with the coconut and juices in the fridge overnight.

To Make the Meatballs in Cumin Sauce:

1. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over the medium heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the onion, garlic, cumin and coriander in the oil until the onion and garlic has softened.

2. Add the sliced/diced vegetables of your choice to the pot and mix into the onion and garlic. Put the lid on the pot to allow the vegetables to lightly steam until just soft, stirring occasionally during this time to reduce the risk of any vegetables burning to the bottom of the pot. The amount of time this will take will depend on the sizes of your sliced vegetables and how many you add, so keep an eye on them and check for doneness as needed.

3. While the vegetables are cooking, pour the tinned tomatoes, soaked coconut pieces and the juices in which they soaked into a jug blender and blend until smooth or nearly smooth.

4. Once the vegetables have cooked, add the cooked pork meatballs to the pot and stir them into the vegetables. Cover the pot with the lid and leave for a few minutes to allow the meatballs to start warming up.

5. Add the blitzed tomato and coconut to the pot with the other ingredients and heat together until the liquid is boiling and the meatballs are hot all the way through.

6. Add the apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste to the pot and mix in thoroughly. Adjust seasoning according to your preference and add more water to the pot if you’d prefer a more loose sauce.

7. Remove the pot from the heat and serve with rice or noodles.

8. Enjoy!

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