Urundai Kari (Meatball Curry and Fry)

In Tamil, Urundai Kari means meatballs. The meatballs are either used in kozhambu (curry) or they are fried. In most families the curry and the fried balls are served in the same meal because of the labour that is involved in making these. The recipe I have used here is my mother’s and though I have arrived at the same taste, the method that I have used is suited to the modern-day lifestyle.

Urundai Kari 1 - Kalas Kalai

Urundai Kari (Meatball Curry and Fry)

My mother had a traditional kitchen with an ammi and kulavi (stone mortar and pestle) and she also had a maid to do the grinding for her. The spices, especially cloves, cinnamon, and sombu (aniseed) were ground on the stone, so were the onion, coconut, kuskus and roasted Bengal gram dhal. I have neither grinding stone nor maid, but fortunately the spice powders are commercially available and I use the mixie or blender to grind the other ingredients. My mother had learnt from her grandmother to cook only half the amount of mincemeat to make the balls. The raw half of the mince helps to bind all the ingredients and to keep the round shape during cooking. My father’s sister, Cynthia, who herself was a great cook, was envious of the way in which my mother’s meatballs held their shape in the curry, while hers invariably broke. This particular curry has only dry spices in contrast to the green curries which are typically made with ginger, garlic, green chilli, etc.

Don’t be alarmed by the length of the recipe. I have presented the recipe in such a manner to make it easier to prepare the meatballs and the curry. The procedure is actually quite simple.

Nutritive Value

Mutton or beef mince provides a large amount of protein and the other ingredients added, such as coconut, kuskus, and roasted Bengal gram dhal, contribute to the energy value. The fried meatballs of course have additional calories from the oil that they have absorbed. This is a high protein and high energy dish. The fried meatballs add satiety value to a packed lunch.

Ingredients

For the Meatballs

  • 500 g Mutton or Beef Mince

For Cooking the Mince

  • ½ of the Mince
  • 2 T diced Onion
  • 10 Pepper Corns
  • 10-12 small Garlic Cloves
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 sprig Curry Leaves
  • 1 tsp Salt

Masala for the Meatballs

  • ¼ C diced Onion, crushed
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • ¼ tsp Clove Powder
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • 1 tsp Sombu or Aniseed Powder
  • 1 T ground Kuskus
  • 2 Hen’s Eggs
  • 3 T ground Coconut
  • 2 T Roasted Bengal Gram Dhal Powder
  • 1 ½ tsp Salt
  • Vegetable Oil for frying

For the Curry (Masala)

  • ¼ C diced Onion, crushed
  • 3 T ground Coconut
  • 2 T Roasted Bengal Gram Dhal Powder
  • 1 T ground Kuskus
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • ¼ tsp Clove Powder
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • 1 tsp Sombu or Aniseed Powder
  • Water

For the Curry (Tempering)

  • 2 T diced Onion
  • 2 Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 C Tamarind extract from a lime-sized ball of tamarind
  • 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
  • 1 T Salt
  • 2 T Vegetable Oil

Method

To Prepare the Meatballs

  1. Pressure cook half of the mince for 15 minutes along with turmeric powder, diced onion, pepper corns, garlic cloves, curry leaves and 1 teaspoon salt. Cool.
  2. Drain the mince; set aside stock.
  3. Pulse the uncooked and cooked mince together in a mixie or blender to arrive at a smooth paste.
  4. Transfer the mince to a mixing bowl. Add all the masala ingredients (excluding the oil) listed under Masala for the Meatballs.
  5. Knead with your hands to blend the masala with the mince. Make into lime-sized balls.
Urundai Kari 2 - Kalas Kalai

Shape the mince into lime-sized balls

  1. Set aside half the meatballs for the curry. Shallow fry the other half.
  2. The fried meatballs should be served separately, but along with the meatball curry from the next part.

To Prepare the Curry

  1. Mix the crushed onion, ground coconut, ground kuskus, and roasted Bengal gram dhal powder with half a cup of water.
  2. Pulse the tomatoes in a mixie or blender for 10 seconds at speed 1.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the diced onion and fry till translucent.
  4. Add the tomatoes and fry till the oil separates.
  5. Add all the powders listed under For the Curry (Masala) and fry for a minute.
  6. Add the tamarind juice and stock we set aside when preparing the meatballs, and bring to boil.
  7. Add the meatballs set aside for the curry.
  8. Cook on low heat till the meatballs float. Add the mix from Step 1 of this section and the salt. Stir gently so as not to break the meatballs. Add more water if gravy is too thick.
  9. When the gravy begins to boil add the curry leaves. Wait for a minute and remove from heat.
  10. The meatball curry is always served along with the fried meatballs from the previous part.

Notes

  1. To prepare the tamarind extract, soak the tamarind in 1 cup of hot water for half an hour. Squeeze the soaked pulp and send the extract through a strainer. Add water again to the pulp and extract more juice. If you are using commercially available tamarind extract, use 2-3 teaspoons to suit your taste.
  2. If you have beef or mutton stock in the freezer it can be added additionally to the curry to give richer flavour.
  3. You might have noticed that the ingredients for the Masala for the Meatballs and For the Curry (Masala) are the same. I have repeated them for clarity.
  4. Coconut and kuskus could be ground in large quantities and then divided into two. The same can be done for the powdered roasted Bengal gram.
  5. To grind kuskus in a mixie or blender, soak the kuskus in half a cup of boiling water for half an hour. Drain the water, place the kuskus in a small mixie jar and pulse at speeds 1 and 2 for 10 seconds each. Add the coconut scrapings and pulse again at speeds 1, 2, and 3 for 10 seconds each. If it is too dry, add 2 teaspoons of the water in which the kuskus was soaked.
  6. Roasted Bengal gram dhal is available commercially. We don’t roast it at home. However, powdering the dhal is done in the kitchen.
  7. The onion for the masala and the curry is crushed and not ground. Grinding will increase the moisture and the meatballs may not hold their shape.
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