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Indian Butter Chicken Meatballs
with cauliflower / spinach / basmati rice

Active: 45 Total: 45
Indian butter chicken is a takeout favorite, but this fun version uses chicken meatballs instead of regular chicken.
Smarts: This recipe makes a large batch of butter curry sauce so that you can set aside a portion to use on Thursday’s Indian Naan Pizza.


Basmati Rice:
  • Water - 1 3/4 cups
  • Rice, uncooked basmati - 1 cup
Indian Butter Curry Sauce (for 2 nights):
  • Garam masala - 2 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander, ground - 2 tsp
  • Curry powder, mild - 2 tsp
  • Red pepper flakes (opt) - 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic - 4 cloves, chopped
  • Ginger, fresh - 1 Tbsp, grated
  • Butter - 3 Tbsp (sub ghee)
  • Tomatoes, crushed (14 oz / 397 g) - 2 cans
  • Stock, any type - 1/2 cup
  • Half and half - 1/2 cup
Indian Chicken Meatballs:
  • Chicken, ground - 1 lb (sub ground turkey)
  • Eggs - 1
  • Panko breadcrumbs - 1/3 cup
  • Garam masala - 1 tsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Black pepper - 1/4 tsp
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
Indian Meatball Curry:
  • Cauliflower - 1 lb, florets
  • Indian Butter Curry Sauce (ingredients listed separately) - ~2 1/2 cups
  • Indian Chicken Meatballs (ingredients listed separately) - ~20
  • Baby spinach - 5 oz
  • Cilantro leaves - 1/4 cup
  • Yogurt, plain or Greek (opt) - 1/4 cup

Nutrition Facts

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  1. Make rice - (Skip if made ahead for Monday.) Fill a saucepan with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then add rice. Bring to a simmer, cover, turn heat down to low, and cook until rice has absorbed all the liquid, 15 to 18 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Make Indian spice blend - Combine garam masala (portion for sauce), ground coriander, curry powder, and red pepper flakes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  3. Cauliflower / Garlic / Ginger - Prep as directed. Store cauliflower in one container. Combine garlic and ginger in another container. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  4. Make meatballs - Combine chicken, eggs, panko, garam masala (portion for meatballs), salt, and black pepper. Gently mix together with a spoon or with your hands. Form into 1” / 2.5 cm balls. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
  5. Pre-cook cauliflower - Place cauliflower florets in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel and steam until nearly tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

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  1. Heat a Dutch oven or large saute pan over medium heat. Add oil and then meatballs to heated oil. Cook meatballs on all sides until light golden brown (but not cooked all the way through), 6 to 8 minutes. Set meatballs aside and return pan to heat.
  2. To heated pan add butter. When butter melts, stir in spice blend, garlic, and ginger and cook until fragrant, ~1 minute.
  3. Pour tomatoes and stock over aromatics, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover and simmer sauce for 10 minutes to develop flavor.
  4. Taste sauce and season with some salt if needed. Remove 1 1/2 cups / 400 mL of sauce and reserve for Thursday’s pizza (for 4 servings; adjust if customizing).
  5. To remaining sauce, stir in half and half. Add meatballs and cover. Simmer meatballs in sauce until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes more.
  6. Gently stir cauliflower and spinach into sauce. Cover and cook until spinach is fully wilted, ~2 minutes more.
  7. If rice was made ahead, reheat in the microwave.
  8. Serve meatballs and sauce over rice. Tear cilantro leaves to serve on top. Enjoy with yogurt.

Nutrition Facts

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Original (54)
Gluten-free (7)
Paleo (3)
Vegetarian (22)

Most Helpful

I liked the idea of this, but it ended up being just okay for how much work/time it took to make. The balance of spices/tomato in the sauce seemed off to me - I think the Garam masala, which I generally love, was overpowering here.

By: Melissa
Posted: Jul 03, 2020
Diet: Original
2 Helpful

58 reviews

Spices were overpowering and the meatballs did not hold together for me.

By: Sara
Posted: May 19, 2022
Diet: Original
0 Helpful

My kids are obsessed with meatballs, and this recipe is no exception. I made a couple substitutions by cooking a whole head of cauliflower in the sauce while it simmered, using Greek yogurt for heavy cream, ground turkey instead of chicken, adding 2 tsp of turmeric and didn’t reserve any sauce (as I didn’t plan to make the linked meal). It was delicious and warm!

By: Trina
Posted: Sep 13, 2021
Diet: Gluten-free
0 Helpful

This is absolutely delicious! So so tasty

By: Laura
Posted: Feb 07, 2021
Diet: Original
0 Helpful

I really loved all the flavor but the meatballs dried out quickly. I got busy and had to reheat it for later and maybe that’s why but the meatballs were super hard and surprisingly not tasty even with all that seasoning. I loved it though other than that. I will definitely try to make it again. Just wish I knew how to make the meatballs better with more flavor and not so dry.

By: Sarah
Posted: Jan 30, 2021
Diet: Vegetarian
0 Helpful

This was delicious! I used all the sauce just for the chicken, no pizza. I agree with other reviewers - I'm not sure if making meatballs vs just using chicken cutlets or thigh meat is worth the extra work.

By: Megan
Posted: Dec 15, 2020
Diet: Original
0 Helpful

Too heavy on the garam masala flavor. Needs to be balanced out somehow or toned down. Other cooksmarts Indian recipes have the same problem, I've found.

By: Felice
Posted: Nov 06, 2020
Diet: Original
0 Helpful