Burmese Meatball Curry

Must Try Recipes

Is it weird that I have go-to recipes for things like kimchi and Goan shrimp curry, but I don’t even have a meatloaf recipe?   Sometimes I wonder whether I should just stick to tried and true American favorites instead of cooking all of these dishes from unfamiliar cuisines.  But that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun, would it?

And besides, there are plenty of times when these foreign dishes, with their somewhat exotic ingredients, end up reminding me a whole lot of childhood classics.  Take, for instance, this Burmese meatball curry dish.    The seasoned beef meatballs are simmered in a sweet, savory and tangy sauce that combines garlic, onion, ginger, tomatoes and tamarind liquid.  It was reminiscent of those ketchup glazed meatloaves I ate when I was younger… except a whole lot better.

So if you were also a fan of those ketchup-glazed meatballs as a child, I’m guessing your adult palate is going to really like this one.  Whether you serve them as an appetizer, main dish, or sandwich stuffing, I really don’t think you can go wrong.

Burmese Meatball Curry

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


* 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
* 1-1/4 cups water, divided
* 1 pound ground beef
* 2 teaspoons rice flour
* 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon fish sauce
* 1 medium (or 1/2 a large) Jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
* 2 Tablespoons oil
* 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
* 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised and woody ends trimmed
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/2 cup diced tomatoes in their juice
* roughly chopped cilantro leaves


Combine the tamarind paste with 1/4 cup warm water. Mash the pulp with a fork and set aside for five minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl and discard any seeds and pulp.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, rice flour, turmeric, salt, fish sauce and Jalapeno pepper. Mix until well combined and shape the mixture into meatballs approximately 1-inch in diameter.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and lightly brown on all sides; do not worry if they are not cooked through. Set aside on a plate.

In the same skilled, add the ginger, garlic and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened. Add the lemongrass and cayenne and stir to mix. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently and using your stirring utensil to mash the diced tomatoes.

Return the meatballs to the skillet and add the tamarind liquid and the remaining 1 cup of water. Reduce heat to medium low and let the mixture simmer until the sauce has thickened.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.

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