Beef, sweet potato, and spices combine for a flavorful and spicy Indian meatball. Dredged in egg and gluten free flour and lightly fried, these Indian meatballs will be the star of the table!
These Indian meatballs are taken from an old family favorite recipe – “Indian Hot Balls,” as we always called them.
I came across the recipe card the other day. It had some suggested amounts of things and some rather vague directions that were not very detailed.
But the bones for a good recipe were there. I tasted and adjusted the spices a few times, swapped out white potato for sweet potato, and Indian Hot Balls 2.0 were born!
India and beef
You might have heard that people in India don’t eat beef. That’s true, to an extent.
Beef in India can be a highly charged subject. The Hindu religion regards cows as sacred, and as such, they do not eat beef.
That said, there are people in India who eat beef: according to this website, approximately 1 in 13 people in India eat beef.
All that being said, you could easily swap out the ground beef in this recipe for ground pork or ground lamb for similar flavor.
How to make Indian meatballs
These Indian meatballs are not your typical meatballs. I will tell you up front that they’re going to include a few extra steps, and they are not an “easy weeknight meal” unless you have your ingredients prepped and ready ahead of time.
I will also tell you that they are oh-so-worth-it. The extra time is worth every minute when you cut into these and experience the explosion of flavor that is Indian hot balls.
There’s a number of things you can do ahead of time to prep for this recipe and make it easier:
Do-ahead 1: Create your spice mixture.
There’s a somewhat long list of spices that season the meat here. Don’t skimp! You need them all for maximum flavor.
Combine your spice mixture in a small bowl and stir well.
The cayenne pepper is what accentuates the heat. These are mild enough for most taste buds as written, but if you like things hotter then up that cayenne amount.
You can adjust the seasoning by tasting the meat after cooking and adding to it – just remember that it’s going to get slightly diluted with the sweet potato and the egg + starch, so what seems like enough might need a little nudge.
I also always like to remind myself that you can always add more, but you can’t take it out, so proceed with caution.
Do ahead 2: Cook your sweet potato.
There’s two ways of making these Indian meatballs – cooking the potato ahead of time, or cooking it during the making of the meatballs.
If you want to have one less thing to do when you’re bringing them together, cook your potato ahead of time.
You’ll want your cooked sweet potatoes cold or at least room temp when it comes time to put the meatballs together, so plan accordingly.
I have cooked sweet potatoes in the fridge at all times, so this is an easy no-brainer for me. I cook mine weekly in the Instant Pot using this method.
If that isn’t you, you’ll need to plan ahead to have them on hand.
If you prefer to do it all at the same time, you can bring a pot of water to a boil, peel and cube your sweet potato, and boil them while you’re working on your spice mixture or while cooking your meat.
Which brings me to…
Do ahead 3: Cook your meat.
For meatballs, I recommend a ground chuck if you can find it. It’s got enough fat content to help hold the meatballs together, but not so much that they end up super greasy.
If you can’t find a chuck, go for a ground round – this will be slightly leaner, but the potato in the meatballs as well as the egg wash will help hold them together.
If you want to learn more about the different types of ground beef, check out my post here, a complete guide to all the different kinds of ground beef and when to use what!
Brown the meat in a skillet, adding the chopped onions and the spice mixture when it’s about half way cooked through.
At the end, add the can of green chiles, cook until the liquid thickens a bit, and remove it from the heat.
The next step involves combining the meat and cooked potato into balls, which needs to happen once both are cooled, otherwise you will burn the ever living bejesus out of your hands, so…
Transfer the meat to a bowl or other container and stick it in the fridge.
Ok, so if you planned ahead, at some previous juncture you prepped the above, and now have a batch of cooked, seasoned meat as well as cooked sweet potato, right?
The rest of these Indian meatballs are easy street.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it within reach.
Add your cooked sweet potato to your cooked meat and knead gently with your hands. You’re not looking to turn the potato to mush – it’s acting like a binder here. Chunks are ok!
Once it’s combined, form 10-12 large balls with your hands, setting on the baking sheet as you make them.
Dredge + Fry
Here’s where we’re going to take these Indian meatballs to the next level.
Working one by one, roll each meatball in the egg, then dredge in the flour. (It might get a little sticky, that’s ok and to be expected.)
Heat 2-3 Tablespoons of avocado oil or other cooking oil over high heat in a skillet (and turn on your kitchen fan!)
Whatever oil you’re using, make sure you’re using a high-heat tolerant fat. I love a good olive oil for lots of things (this is hands down my favorite one) but if you use a cooking fat with a low smoke point, it will just burn.
All of your ingredients here are already cooked – we’re only looking to crisp up the outside crust and get them heated through for eating, so they don’t need a long time in the pan.
They just need high heat and hot oil.
Rotate them as they fry to get all sides. The starch will turn from a white powder to a cooked batter or crust like you see below.
How to store these Indian meatballs
Once cooked, you can store these in the fridge for up to a week.
If you want to wait to do the battering and frying, you can. I wouldn’t recommend rolling them into balls if you’re going to wait, as the outer layer is what holds them together.
If you want to batter and fry and then store, that works too! Know that the outer layer will not stay crispy – simply add back to a pan over medium heat with a bit of oil to crisp them back up and warm through.
How to make turmeric cauliflower rice
Dry roast the walnuts first, tossing regularly to avoid scorching, then remove them from the pan and set them aside. You’ll add them back in in a bit!
Add the oil to the pan, then add the cauliflower rice and the carrots, cooking just until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Now add your walnuts back in and toss to combine.
Plate up the cauliflower rice and top with the Indian hot balls and serve!
Indian Hot Balls
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4.5 oz can green chiles
- 1 cup cooked sweet potato
- 1 1/2 Tbsp coriander
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup tapioca starch
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 16 oz cauliflower rice
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- In a small bowl, combine all spices for the hot balls (coriander through cloves).
- In a skillet over medium high heat, cook the ground beef, breaking up as it browns. When the meat is about halfway cooked, add the chopped onion to the pan and mix well. Add your spice mixture and mix well again, working the spices throughout the meat.
- Once the meat is cooked through, add the can of green chiles to the pan, stir to combine, and simmer until the consistency thickens.
- Transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside to cool.
- Once meat has cooled, add the cooked sweet potato to the bowl and knead to combine. Don't overmix - you're just looking for the two to come together. The sweet potato is acting like a binder here.
- Using your hands, form 10-12 balls. These will be larger than you would make typical meatballs.
- Create 2 small bowls - one for the egg, one for the tapioca starch.
- Heat 2-3 Tbsp of cooking oil large skillet over medium high heat.
- Roll each ball in egg, then in the tapioca, and place in the oil, turning to cook on all sides. The starch will form a "crust" on the outside of the balls. Once browned, set aside and drain on paper towels while you make the rice.
- In a skillet over medium heat, add the dry walnuts, tossing regularly to avoid scorching. Remove the walnuts from the pan and set aside.
- Add the oil to the pan, then add the cauliflower rice and the carrots, cooking just until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the walnuts back in and toss to combine.
- Plate up the cauliflower rice and top with the Indian hot balls and serve!
There's a bit of prep that can be done ahead for these meatballs. I recommend cooking your potatoes ahead of time, either in the Instant Pot or just peeling and boiling in chunks.
You can also prep the meat ahead of time - cook it according to the directions and store it in the fridge until you're ready to bring it all together!
These Indian meatballs will store well in the fridge for 4-5 days. The batter on the outside will soften - to crisp up, warm a bit of oil in a pan over medium heat and brown them up until crisp and warmed through.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 171Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 294mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 12g