Lamb and bulgur meatballs with sweet cinnamon tomato sauce, yoghurt and flatbreads

From Claire Thomson’s latest book

Prep 15 min
Cook 50 min
Serves 4

4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced

80g #3 coarse Sunnyland Mills bulgur wheat
3-5 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
½ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cumin
, lightly toasted
500g minced lamb
80g sun-dried tomatoes stored in oil
, drained and finely chopped
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, half finely chopped, half roughly chopped
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

1 cinnamon stick
2 fresh bay leaves
Salt and pepper
, to taste

To serve
150g plain yoghurt
½ garlic clove, finely grated
big squeeze lemon juice
Shop-bought flatbreads – Greek or Turkish ones are ideal – or naan: you want something you can roll up, and that’s not too thin
Hot sauce of choice (optional)

Put half the olive oil in a medium saucepan set over a medium–low heat, then fry the onion for eight to 10 minutes, until soft and translucent, but not coloured. Add the garlic and spices, cook, stirring, for two minutes more, until fragrant, then take off the heat and set aside.

While the onions are cooking, boil the kettle. Rinse the bulgur under cold running water, drain and transfer to a bowl. Pour over 200ml just-boiled water, cover, leave the bulgur to steep for 10 minutes, then drain thoroughly and put to one side.

In a large bowl, mix the lamb mince, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, drained bulgur, half the spiced cooked onion mix and the finely chopped parsley, and use your hands to mix and knead for at least two minutes, until very soft and well combined. Shape the mince into ping-pong ball-sized meatballs and set aside.

Add the tinned tomatoes, bay and cinnamon to the remaining onion mix in the pan, season well with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, then set over a moderate heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat, and cook the tomatoes for about 10 minutes more, until rich and thick. Adjust the seasoning to taste, then stir in the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and turn off the heat.

Put the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat, then fry the meatballs in batches for about three minutes, until browned all over, but not cooked through. Once browned, transfer the meatballs to the warm tomato sauce pan.

Once all the meatballs are browned and in the sauce, cover the pan, set it over a low heat and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through (alternatively, transfer the mix to a suitable dish and bake in a 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 oven for about 15 minutes). Once cooked, remove from the heat and leave the meatballs to rest in their sauce for five minutes.

Put the yoghurt in a small serving bowl and stir in the grated garlic, lemon juice and a big pinch of salt. Warm the flatbreads in the oven or toaster.

To serve, scoop some meatballs and tomato sauce on to a flatbread, add a spoon of seasoned yoghurt, some roughly chopped parsley and hot sauce, if using, roll up the flatbread and eat immediately.