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Greek Tomato Meatballs from Yasmin Khan

Greek Tomato Meatballs from Yasmin Khan
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Cover Photo from “Ripe Figs” Credit: Matt Russell

Silver Moon, Patmos Greece.

We’ve just returned from Greece with some great new recipes

In case you don’t follow us on Instagram* or have wondered when our next post was coming, we’re back from one of the most wonderful trips we’ve ever taken. We sailed from Athens for 10 days in the Aegean and the Mediterranean aboard Silver Moon, Silversea’s incredible new ship. We weren’t the least bit surprised to see that Silver Moon was just named as one of Time Magazines “The World’s 100 Greatest Places”! https://time.com/collection/worlds-greatest-places-2021/6079217/athens/  We couldn’t agree more.  And now, the first of some great new dishes we brought back from our trip.

“Ripe Figs” by Yasmin Khan is well worth adding to your Cookbook Library


British-born Yasmin Khan has written 3 cookbooks in the last 5 years. Her focus is on the food of her ancestral Middle Eastern home and the Mediterranean. “Ripe Figs” (W.W. Norton & Company 2021) bills itself as “Recipes and Stories from Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus”.  Yasmin was the Guest Lecturer and Instructor in Silversea’s S.A.L.T. Culinary Arts program aboard Silver Moon. (I’ve written lots about this program and will post my articles as they appear.) Which recipe to cook first? I chose this: luscious meatballs perfumed with spices–cumin, cinnamon, sweet paprika. Then they cook in an aromatic tomato sauce making them even more tender and flavorful.  Finally, they’re placed atop servings of Orzo for a truly satisfying meal.

These Greek Meatballs are called “Soutzoukakia” in Greek and their origins are in Turkey.

One of the learnings of this trip was how closely linked all the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean are. The ties between Turkey and Greece, however conflicted over the years, are very strong.  This particular recipe is said to have originated from Greeks living in the ancient city of Smyrna, now known as Izmir on the coast of Turkey.  Reportedly there are a staggering 250 types of meatball recipes in Turkey. The Greeks apparently thought this was the best of the bunch.  We served it with a Greek Salad which we’ll share in a later post.  Here’s today’s recipe followed by some other Meatballs you may enjoy.

Greek Tomato Meatballs from Yasmin Khan

August 13, 2021
: 4
: 20 min
: 60 min
: Easy

Luscious meatballs are perfumed with spices--cumin, cinnamon, sweet paprika, and thyme. Then they cook in a tomato sauce redolent with the same spices which the meatballs absorb making them even more tender and flavorful.


  • For the tomato sauce:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 150 ml just-boiled water
  • 0.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 pinch each of salt and black pepper
  • For the meatballs:
  • 300 g minced lamb or pork
  • 300 g minced beef
  • 70 g breadcrumbs
  • 1 large handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus more to serve
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 0.5 medium onion, grated
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 0.8 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 drizzle of light olive oil, for the tray and the meatballs
  • 1 drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
  • Step 1 Begin by preparing the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion and gently fry over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and fry for another few minutes.
  • Step 2 Add the rest of the ingredients with 0.5 teaspoon salt and 0.5 teaspoons black pepper, stir well, cover and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Step 3 Place all the ingredients for the meatballs (except the oils) in a large bowl, season with 1.5 teaspoons salt and 0.5 teaspoons black pepper and mix together with your hands. Lightly oil a large baking tray, roll the meat into about 20 balls, and transfer to the tray.
  • Step 4 Preheat the oven to 210°C/fan 190°C/415°F/gas mark 7. Brush the meatballs with a little more light olive oil, then pop them in the oven and cook for 10–12 minutes, turning once, until browned.
  • Step 5 Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and simmer for 15 minutes so the meat absorbs the flavors of the sauce.
  • Step 6 Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.


*Follow us on Instagram…

https://www.instagram.com/montemathews/  https://www.instagram.com/andrewphillips56/

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2 thoughts on “Greek Tomato Meatballs from Yasmin Khan”

    • So happy to hear that! We thought they were wonderful too. Thanks for taking the time to write. Bon Appetit! Monte

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