Spicy Meatballs in Pomegranate Sauce


My kids are always begging me to make meatballs for dinner but I’m usually reluctant to oblige. They always seemed so finicky to me. All that rolling and then frying…just the thought of it made me tired. That being said I also refuse to buy already made meatballs as they always seem to be of the worst quality-too bland and too fatty.

Sometimes all you need is a little bit of inspiration and for that reason I have a myriad of cookbooks! I was really lacking some imagination so I grabbed “Please to the Table” by Anya Von Bremzen and John C. Welchman; a book that gives a brilliant overview of the food eaten in the former Soviet Union. The recipe for Spicy Meatballs in Pomegranate Sauce came from the Central Asian region of the former USSR and I had it bookmarked for ages.

 Spicy Meatballs in Pomegranate Sauce

Author: Julia Frey of Vikalinka

Recipe type: Main

Cuisine: Central Asian

Serves: 6


Makes 38-40 meatballs


For the meatballs

  • 1 lbs extra lean ground beef
  • 1 lbs extra lean ground pork
  • 1 onion, processed in a food processor with 2 tbsp of water or grated
  • 1 egg, large
  • ⅓ cup oats
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp sumac (optional)
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp oil for frying

For the Pomegranate sauce

  • 1 cup/250 ml Pomegranate molasses
  • 2 cups/500 ml beef or chicken stock
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp sumac
  • pomegranate seeds from ½ pomegranate
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped


  1. Process the onion with 2 tbsp of water in a food processor to a paste or grate it on a grater.
  2. In a large bowl combine both meats, onion, egg, spices and chopped fresh cilantro, oats, salt and pepper.
  3. Form meatballs approximately the size of golf balls. Use a small ice cream scoop to get even sized meatballs.
  4. Arrange them on a cutting board and put them in the freezer for 10-15 min to firm up.
  5. Brown meatballs in batches over medium high heat on all sides in hot oil, they don't need to be cooked all the way through. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
  6. Discard the oil meatballs were browned in and wipe the pan with a paper towel.
  7. To the same pan add pomegranate molasses, beef or chicken stock, brown sugar and spices.
  8. Bring to a boil and simmer until it starts to get thicker, add a mixture of corn starch and water and stir with a whisk to make sure there are not lumps.
  9. Add half of the pomegranate seeds to the sauce together with meatballs.
  10. Simmer for 15-20 minutes shaking the pan once in a while to prevent meatballs sticking until the sauce is thick and syrupy. If your sauce is still thin after the time stated continue simmering until it has the consistency of glaze.
  11. Serve sprinkles with the remaining pomegranate seeds and chopped fresh mint leaves.