One of the joys in life is when you have neighbors who love to cook, and share their food. The best part of living in India is that you were always surrounded by such neighbors. At least growing up, my family was fortunate to have such neighbors. Sharing was such a natural notion for them that it was not uncommon to answer the doorbell to a smiling neighbor who popped by with a large plate of delicious food that they just wanted you to try. Of course we shared our food with them as well, but somehow the neighbors’ food always tasted better. Don’t tell my mom I said that 🙂

Of all the goodies we sampled from their generous kitchens, these chicken meatballs were one of them. Years later, and many miles away from India; my sister and I still reminisce about how good they were.

When I recently visited India, one of those extremely nice neighbors visited us, and casually mentioned the ingredient list to us. No recipe, but just an ingredient list. But it was very helping in creating this recipe with measurements. I’ve tried it a few times and it tastes as good as my neighbor’s. Well, maybe not as good, but still close.

This meatball is moist, spicy, flavorful and leaves a note of juicy in your mouth as you proceed to swallow it. Its so good that you don’t even need to douse it in a sauce to eat it. Just get a toothpick, stick it in a meatball and pop it in your mouth. Repeat until you can’t handle any more. And its quick to put together too.

Thank you, my dear neighbor. You know who you are.

Note: The dry coconut mentioned in this recipe is NOT desiccated coconut. It is unsweetened coconut which still contains its natural oils. Desiccated coconut has all the oils taken out and is not as flavorful nor is it as nutritious. Dry coconut is also called Kopra or Copra in Hindi.

Serves 4
1 lb minced chicken - thigh meat is best
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 heaped tbsp roughly chopped garlic 
1 heaped tbsp roughly chopped ginger 
1 large serrano pepper
2 tbsps grated dry coconut (kopra or copra)
10 sprigs cilantro
1 tbsp coriander seed powder
1/2 tsp cumin seed powder
2" cinnamon stick and 4 cloves, powdered in a mortar and pestle
1/4 - 1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 - 1 tsp salt

Place the minced chicken in a mixing bowl. Whizz all ingredients (no water!) except minced chicken in a food processor until you have a fine mince. Combine with the minced chicken and mix well.

Form into balls about 1.5" in diameter. It helps to dip your hands in a bowl of water before attempting to form the balls, otherwise you will have sticky hands. On a medium flame, heat vegetable oil in a pan for shallow frying. Test the oil to ensure it is ready for frying by adding a teaspoon of the mixture. If the mini meatball sizzles gently, the oil is ready. Lower as many meatballs as your pan will hold, keeping about 2" distance between each meatball. Let cook for about 2 minutes before flipping the meatballs over, and cook another 2 minutes on the other side. These times are approximate since the final cooking time will depend on how big your pan is and how many meatballs you added to it and how hot your stove is. What you are looking for is a nice golden coloring on the outside of each meatball.

Alternately if you don't want to fry these meatballs, I suppose you could add about 2 tbsps olive oil to the chicken mixture, form balls and place them on a baking sheet and bake at 375 deg F for about 10-15 minutes.

These meatballs keep well in the refrigerator. That is, if you managed to have leftovers! This is also a great make-ahead dish. To reheat, warm them up in the microwave.