Curried Chicken Meatballs

These mildly spiced and flavorful Indian meatballs are kid-friendly but also perfect for adults.

I created this recipe by getting inspiration from my dad’s chicken curry recipe.

I made the curry as is, and then cooked down the gravy into a thick paste. Then I mixed that into some ground chicken, rolled it into meatballs, and baked them!

That’s pretty much it.

The onions, minced veggies, and tomatoes in the mixture keep the meatballs moist and savory. Each meatball is full of concentrated flavor.

how to make curried chicken meatballs

Preheat oven to 425℉. Drizzle some of the oil into a large baking dish and set aside.

Next, make the chicken masala. In a spice or coffee grinder, add 3 whole cardamom pods, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1/4 inch cinnamon stick, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper or 3 whole peppercorns, 3-4 whole cloves, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 petal star anise, optional, 1/8 tsp cumin seeds, optional, dash nutmeg, optional

Now for the meatballs. In a large bowl mix 1 pound ground chicken and 1 teaspoon salt together. Set aside

Then in a hot skillet, add some oil and wait until it shimmers. Add 1/2 small onion minced, 1/2 cup minced veggies (e.g. carrots, zucchini, mushrooms), 2 teaspoons each of minced ginger and garlic, and two pinches of salt. Sauté over medium-high heat until the onions become golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.

Next, add in 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes or 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Sauté another 5-8 minutes or until the tomatoes start sticking and drying out in the bottom of the pan.

Then add 3 tablespoons ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1-2 teaspoons cayenne or chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of paprika. Stir for 30-60 seconds.

I used 1 teaspoon of chili powder and my kids did not seem bothered at all with the spice level, which tells me it probably needs more spice. If you can handle the heat, increase to 2 teaspoons or more!

Finally, add 1/2 teaspoon of the prepared chicken masala, give it a stir, and take off heat. It should look like a thick paste. Allow the mixture to cool.

Once the onion mixture has cooled, add it to the ground meat and gently stir or fold it in with a wooden spoon. Next, use your fingers to spread around the oil in the baking dish until it coats the dish completely. With your greased hand, form the meat into 1 1/2 inch balls. You will get about 16-20 meatballs. 

Place in the baking dish and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the meatballs are golden brown on the outside.

Serve meatballs immediately or allow to cool and then keep in the fridge for 2-3 days or in the freezer for a few months.

Our favorite way to eat these meatballs is with my homemade curry simmer sauce served over rice.

The sweet coconut sauce pairs well with the spices in the meat. Throw in some frozen peas for extra flavor and color.

You can also swap out the ground chicken with turkey, pork, lamb, or beef.

When using beef, lamb, or pork I like to mix in some ground turkey. The ground turkey cuts the richness of the other meat.

If you end up using 2 pounds of ground meat in this recipe, double all the other ingredients.

How to Eat indian meatballs

Because these meatballs are so versatile you can enjoy them in many ways:

  • As a Wrap: Place cooked meatballs on whole wheat naan or pita bread, and top with yogurt sauce, cucumbers, pickled onions, chopped tomatoes, and coriander chutney.

  • As an Appetizer: Toss cooked meatballs in homemade or store-bought BBQ Sauce. Cover with foil, and reheat in the oven at 350°F for 15-20 minutes.

  • As a Burger: Form into large patties (about 6-8?) and grill or place under broiler until cooked through. Put some pepperjack or montery jack cheese on each patty, and serve on toasted whole wheat buns. Top with caramelized onions, tomatoes, coriander mayo, and spicy Indian ketchup.

  • As a Kebab: Place raw meatballs on a skewer along with chunks of bell peppers, onions, and mango. They can be brushed with a glaze like mango or tamarind chutney. Then grill or place under a broil until golden brown and cooked through. Serve with a cilantro-mint yogurt.

Reheating

This recipe makes about 16-20 meatballs and they freeze really well. Just separate them into batches and place in a freezer safe bag or container. Then thaw overnight in the fridge. The next day, follow one of these methods to reheat them:

  • Stovetop: Add them to a pan with your favorite sauce and reheat for 10-15 minutes or until heated all the way through. If not using sauce, place them in a pan with a little water and cover with a lid.

  • Microwave: Place them in a microwave-safe dish, adding in a little water (or sauce if using) so they don’t dry out. Cover with a microwave-safe lid and heat for 2-3 minutes until steaming hot.

  • Air Fry: Set your air fryer to 400℉-425℉ and cook the meatballs for 8-10 minutes or until they are very hot in the center.

What My Kids Say:
10 year-old: “It’s just plump and salty.”
7 year-old: “It is tender, soft, and delicious.”


Plate of Indian meatballs in curry simmer sauce, with cilantro and rice.

Curried Chicken Meatballs

Joby’s Test Kitchen
These Indian meatballs have all the flavor of chicken curry concentrated into one small bite. It is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 48 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 8 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 16 to 20 meatballs

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 2-3 tsps (10-15ml) oil
  • ½ small onion, minced
  • ½ cup minced veggies, optional (e.g. carrots, zucchini, mushrooms)
  • ½ cup minced tomatoes or 1 tbsp tomato paste, optional
  • 2 tsps minced ginger
  • 2 tsps minced garlic
  • 3 tbsps coriander
  • 1-2 tsps chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chicken masala

Chicken Masala (grind together in a spice or coffee grinder)

  • 3 whole cardamom pods
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon or 1/4 inch cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp black pepper or 3 peppercorns
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 petal star anise, optional
  • tsp cumin seeds, optional
  • dash nutmeg, optional

Serving Suggestions:

  • masala simmer sauce
  • basmati rice and/or garlic naan
  • raita (yogurt with cucumbers and tomatoes)
  • cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425℉. Drizzle some of the oil into a baking dish and set aside.
  • In a bowl mix ground chicken and 1 teaspoon salt together. Set aside
  • In a hot skillet, add the remaining oil and wait until it shimmers. Add the onions, minced veggies (if using), ginger, garlic, and two pinches of salt. Saute over medium-high heat until golden brown, 5-8 minutes.
  • Next, add in the tomatoes/paste if using and sauté another 5-8 minutes or until the tomatoes start sticking to and drying out in the bottom of the pan.
  • Then add the coriander, turmeric, chili powder, and paprika. Stir for 30-60 seconds. Finally, add the chicken masala, give it a stir, and take off heat. It should look like a thick paste. Allow mixture to cool.
  • Once the onion mixture has cooled, add it to the ground meat and gently stir or fold it in with a wooden spoon. Next, use your fingers to spread around the oil in the baking dish until it coats the dish completely. With your greased hand, form the meat into 1½ inch balls. You will get about 16-20 meatballs.
  • Place in the baking dish. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on the outside. Serve with your favorite curry sauce or follow some of my suggestions above. Can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days or in the freezer for a few months.

Notes

Meat Variations

Instead of chicken, you can use turkey, pork, lamb, or beef. When using beef, lamb, or pork I like to mix in ground turkey. The ground turkey cuts the richness of the other meat. If using 2 pounds of meat, you will need to double all the other ingredients in the recipe.
Keyword curry sauce, ground chicken, masala, meatballs