Lamb Meatballs in Coconut Fenugreek Sauce

Lamb Meatballs in Coconut Fenugreek SauceDried fenugreek is a subtle but intriguing herb, one that adds unique flavor to sauces, meat, seafood, eggs and cooked vegetables. Slightly sweet, herbal and earthy with pleasant aromatics, it’s like adding a gentle hint of curry powder to whatever you make.

Less intense than curry powder and also less intense than fenugreek seeds or fresh fenugreek leaves, which can easily overwhelm a dish, dried fenugreek can be used in the kitchen just like any other type of dried herb. The flavor pairs especially well with other favorite herbs and spices like cumin, coriander, cardamom, fennel seeds and turmeric.

In this recipe, dried fenugreek is simmered in coconut milk with tomatoes, garlic and ginger and poured over cumin and coriander spiked lamb. Even with all those different spices and seasonings going on, the overall flavor is fairly subtle and comforting and will make your house smell really good.


The easiest place to find dried fenugreek leaves (also labeled as kasuri methi) is in Indian grocery stores. It can also be bought from online spice shops.

Servings: 2 to 3

Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour



Lamb Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground lamb (450 g)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (4 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (2.5 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (2.5 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (30 ml)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (30 ml)
  • 1-inch piece of peeled ginger, finely chopped (2.5 cm)

Coconut Fenugreek Sauce:

  • 1 cup diced tomato (about 2 medium tomatoes)
  • 1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk (400 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (30 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice (10 ml)


Preheat oven to 425 °F/220 °C.

In a large bowl mix together lamb, egg, salt, cumin, coriander, cilantro and 2 finely chopped garlic cloves. Form into about 12 golf ball sized balls. The meatballs will be loose, not tightly packed, which is fine.

Heat a skillet over medium-high with the coconut oil. Add the meatballs, browning on all sides, then transfer to a rimmed sheet pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until barely pink in the middle and around 160 °F/70 °C.

Step 1

In the same skillet the meatballs were just in, sauté the ginger and remaining garlic, just until lightly browned.

Add the tomato and cook until most of the liquid evaporates.

Step 2

Add coconut milk, fenugreek leaves and lime juice. Bring to a simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Salt to taste.

Step 3

Serve meatballs and fenugreek sauce over cauliflower rice or sautéed greens.

Meatballs 1

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26 thoughts on “Lamb Meatballs in Coconut Fenugreek Sauce”

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  1. I like the fenugreek seeds. They make an interesting tea and you can (of course) just add them to dishes. I haven’t tried using the dried green portions but this looks like it’s worth trying.

  2. Sounds great! I like lamb. Even with rice for breakfast. Weird, huh?

  3. Sounds great looking forward to trying this. Could streatch it with broth to make a soup too.

  4. Just out of curiosity, is there anybody else who doesn’t think that cauliflower works at all as a rice or potato substitute? And I actually like it just to eat. But I’ve tried the “rice” and “mashed potatoes” and GACK. Man, that stuff got hit with an awful stick!

    1. I’ve loved it as rice from the very first time I tried it. “Mashed potatoes” were awful the first time. After months and months, I gave it a second try. Turns out, for my own taste, I needed to steam about 5 *large* cloves of garlic with the cauliflower and use a liberal amount of salt to get the right flavor. Oh, and a bit of sour cream along with the butter.

    2. Yes cauliflower works fantastic, but you have to practice how you prepare it. I think it works best pulsed in a food processor, mixed with herbs that compliment the dish (for this one i added in cilantro, cumin, salt & pepper) and then microwave it for 8 minutes (glass dish (pyrex) with lid slightly off) let it rest for a few minutes then scoop a half cup on the plate and pour the sauce over… very yummy.
      For meat/potato dishes I use a cauliflower with celery root, add rosemary and beef broth…and cream/butter/sour cream on top … yum 🙂

  5. Made this for dinner tonight, and it really tasted great. For anyone else wanting to make this, the recipe should be corrected: The Ginger goes in the sauce ingredients, not the meatballs. Half of the garlic listed for the meatballs also goes in the sauce. I used mutton for this that I ground myself, and added some ground chicken gizzards and an egg to the meat mixture. All held together nicely and made a very tasty meatball.

  6. Now I really wish I’d made it to the farmer’s market this weekend for some pastured lamb. This sounds amazing!!

  7. Dried fenugreek leaves are a ‘must’ in a spinach curry to make it taste like the restaurant ones.

    I like fenugreek but does anyone else find that their sweat smells strongly of fenugreek a couple of days after eating it? Happens to me with both dried leaves and seeds.

    1. Some cultures use fenugreek tea to cleanse away the “sluge” (not sure if I’m spelling it right) inside their bodies, like an internal bath, so smelling it in your sweat would be understandable. The article I read did mention a slight odor of fenugreek after drinking the tea on a regular basis. I use the seeds to make tea. I like to add the seeds to various teas, especially holy basil. After I drink the tea, the seeds are usually soft enough to eat. I enjoy the crunchy, softened seeds as much as the tea. I wonder if the softened seeds would be good in the sauce, I’ll have to give it a try.

  8. Thanks Mark,
    This is a yummy dish, I made it tonight. My sauce did not seem to thicken up, (I did use fat coconut milk) so I ended up adding in 2 TBS. of almond flour, and that did the trick.

    I could not find leaves of fenugreek, and used 2 TBS. of fenugreek seeds, and it was still very nice. This one is a keeper. Nice “marrying” of flavors.

  9. Can you sub in the fenugreek leaves for ground fenugreek seeds? I have a small jar of it that I found at our local Penzey’s Spices. If so, what amount? Would love to try this recipe!

    1. I just picked up the ground fenugreek seeds from penzey’s myself, since I had the recipe wrong in my head. 🙂 I just sprinkled in a small amount of the ground seeds since I read that too much of it can turn a dish bitter. It has an interesting maple smell while cooking. I used a can of no salt diced tomatoes instead of fresh and it turned out well. Um, I also forgot to add the egg to the meatballs and they still turned out great. I would definitely make this again.

  10. So I butchered the recipe but it still came out great. I was in a hurry so I just read the list of ingredients for the meatballs and added it all in. Coconut oil and all! Lol. Then I realized something didn’t seem right so I read the whole things and realized I put too much garlic in and the coconut oil was for the browning of the meatballs.
    Oh well – you can never have too much garlic!

    I went to my local Indian Spice market and picked up a huge bag (only size) of dried fenugreek for like $4. It’s so aromatic, I love it! Then went to my local Fresh Market and they didn’t have any ground lamb so I bought some grass fed beef instead.

    Overall verdict – using beef instead of lamb – EXCELLENT! I can’t wait to eat leftovers tonight.

  11. …just a question. Is the temperature for the meatballs in the oven right, 70 degrees celsius??

  12. I had this last night for my dinner… holy cow it was good! This is definitely being one of my staples.

  13. Seems like I am finding about new herbs every day now that I am eating and loving. When I was younger I think my taste buds were not at the level they are now because of all the sugar I was eating at the time, now I feel like I can actually taste the flavors in things. I lived in Astoria, Queens for awhile which has the largest Greek population outside of Greece so these meatballs are right up my ally. If you ever go to NYC and love this type of food shoot right across the river and go to this town, you will not regret it.

  14. Amazing. Such a simple sauce, but the fenugreek transforms it into something magical. Leftover sauce would make a great poaching liquid for cod or grouper. I misread the recipe and put the ginger in the meatballs, but it still rocked. I used leftover sautéed kale for the base with roasted cauliflower on the side, because I do not dig cauliflower rice.

    A request for everyone: Can you wait until AFTER you’ve tried a recipe to comment on it? Frankly, I don’t care whether a recipe looks good to you unless you’ve tried to make it.

      1. Don’t shy away from this recipe if you don’t have all the ingredients.

        I cut the salt to 1/2t, left the garlic out of the meatballs. Sauteed in lard. Used a packet of sushi ginger, one tomato, no fenugreek, a dollop of creme freche in place of coconut milk and juice of half a lime. Over steamed cauli. Really good.

  15. This is one of our go-to meals and consistently delicious. Add fresh spinach and/or kale at the end, and simmer to perfection. We ladle great spoonfuls of this lamb meatball love atop steamed/chopped cauliflower, and then we eat to painful excess. We simply can’t help ourselves.