Indian Butter Chicken Meatballs
with cauliflower / spinach / basmati rice
Indian butter chicken is a takeout favorite, but this fun twist that was first featured in a meal plan in early 2020 uses chicken meatballs instead of regular chicken.
Smarts #1: The sauce really benefits from some heat, so be sure to taste it at the end and add some more red pepper flakes or hot sauce if you'd like it spicier.
Smarts #2: 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.
- Water - 1 3/4 cups
- Rice, uncooked basmati - 1 cup
- 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
- 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
- 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
Make rice - 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)
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)
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)
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. (To keep the meatballs tender, try not to overwork the mixture.) Form into 1” / 2.5 cm balls. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
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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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.
To heated pan add butter. When butter melts, stir in spice blend, garlic, and ginger and cook until fragrant, ~1 minute.
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.
Taste sauce and season with some salt if needed. Add some extra red pepper flakes or some hot sauce if you'd like more heat. Remove 1 1/2 cups / 400 mL of sauce and reserve for Thursday’s pizza (for 4 servings; adjust if customizing).
To remaining sauce, stir in half and half. Add meatballs and cover. Simmer meatballs in sauce until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes more.
Gently stir cauliflower and spinach into sauce. Cover and cook until spinach is fully wilted, ~2 minutes more.
If rice was made ahead, reheat in the microwave.
Serve meatballs and sauce over rice. Tear cilantro leaves to serve on top. Enjoy with yogurt.