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Chile-Cumin Lamb Meatballs


  • Chile sauce:
  • 2 teaspoons Ancho chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Meatballs:
  • 1/4 small onion, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 45 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
  • 1/2 English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)


  1. Chile sauce:
  2. Toast ancho chili powder, red pepper flakes, and cumin in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.Watching closely so they do not burn
  3. Let cool. Add toasted spices, vinegar, paprika, and garlic to blender and blend until smooth. With motor running, gradually stream in oil and blend until combined. Transfer to a large bowl; season with salt.
  4. Meatballs and assembly:
  5. Pulse onion, chopped garlic, parsley, oregano, sage, fennel seeds, coriander, cumin, and 1 tablespoon salt in a food processor, scraping down sides as needed, until finely chopped.
  6. Add egg, lamb, and flour and pulse until evenly combined. Using a small ice cream scoop,form lamb mixture into 1 1/2″ balls.
  7. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high, cook meatballs, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides and cooked through, 5–8 minutes. Transfer meatballs to paper towels to drain.
  8. Transfer all meatballs to bowl with chile sauce and toss to coat.
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Toss cucumber in a medium bowl with lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
  11. To Serve
  12. Spoon yogurt into bowls. Evenly divide meatballs among bowls; top with dressed cucumber and mint and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.


*Chile sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Do ahead: Meatball mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.