Indian Butter Chicken Meatballs
with spinach / cauliflower 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 shrimp saute.
- Cauliflower florets - 12 oz
- Butter - 1 Tbsp
- 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
- Chicken, ground - 1 lb (sub ground turkey)
- Eggs - 1
- Almond meal - 1/3 cup
- Garam masala - 1 tsp
- Salt - 1/2 tsp
- Black pepper - 1/4 tsp
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
- 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
Cauliflower rice - Pulse florets in a food processor until broken up into ‘rice’-sized bits. Cook rice in one of two ways: 1) Microwave for 4 to 5 minutes and then fold in butter (portion for cauliflower rice). Season with some salt and pepper; or 2) Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add butter (portion for cauliflower rice). Saute cauliflower in heated butter for ~5 minutes, until tender but still crunchy. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Watch this video for the full how-to on cauliflower rice. (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)
Garlic / Ginger - Prep as directed and combine. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Make meatballs - Combine chicken, eggs, almond meal, 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)
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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 (portion for sauce). 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 shrimp saute (for 4 servings; adjust if customizing).
Add meatballs to remaining sauce. Cover. Simmer meatballs in sauce until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes more.
Gently stir spinach into sauce. Cover and cook until spinach is fully wilted, ~2 minutes more.
If cauliflower rice was made ahead, reheat in the microwave.
Serve meatballs and sauce over cauliflower rice. Tear cilantro leaves to serve on top.