Creamy Lamb Meatballs


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

660 Curries

By Raghavan Iyer

Published 2008

  • About

Just as love and marriage are inseparable, so are Rista and Goshtaba at Kashmiri weddings—the same flavored meatballs with two different sauces. This one bathes the spicy lamb with a creamy sauce perfumed with saffron and a fennel-kissed spice blend. I often serve Rista and Goshtaba together, to allow my dining companions to marvel at their dissimilarities, even though the meatballs are flavored with the same intriguing spice combination.


  • 8 ounces lean ground lamb
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
  • ½ teaspoon black cumin seeds, ground
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil or canola oil
  • 1 cup half-and-half ½ teaspoon Kashmiri garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads


  1. Mix the lamb, salt, fennel, cumin, ginger, onion, and garlic together in a medium-size bowl. (I have no qualms using my clean hands to do it—all the better to knead and massage the ingredients thoroughly into the meat.) Divide the spiced meat into 10 equal portions, and shape each portion into a tight round. (I usually compress it in one hand to shape and press it into a taut ball.)
  2. Heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook, gently moving them around every few seconds, until they are evenly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain off the excess oil into a small bowl (you can reserve it for another recipe that calls for oil—just make sure it isn’t a vegetarian dish).
  3. Pour the half-and-half over the meatballs, and sprinkle in the garam masala and saffron. Raise the heat to medium-high and simmer the curry vigorously, uncovered, bathing the meatballs every minute or two, until the lamb is barely pink inside and the sauce has thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Scoop out the meatballs and transfer them to a serving bowl. Pour the creamy-yellow, highly perfumed sauce over them, and serve.