cumin mixed-meat miniburger/balls

American supermarkets usually carry shrinkwrapped ground veal/beef/pork packages, a convenient product which in one stroke not only manages to offend three major religions (Hinduism, Islam, Judaism) but the entire animal rights movement in general and the anti-veal crusaders in particular. I am not sure exactly what use this mixed meat combo is intended to serve, but we tend to replace ground beef with it in various dishes, like meatloaf. The veal industry animal cruelty issue is one that we are still largely uninformed about, allowing us to blindly continue using veal occasionally without wrecking our conscience.

This particular recipe emerged after we had Sarkahian family meatballs one night, of either Armenian or Middle Eastern origin, soon after inspiring ani to browse through our favorite cookbook covering three key sources of such recipes—Armenian, Lebanese, Persian—for a similar one. Cumin meatballs (cuminov kufta) turned up, an Armenian recipe from some Turkish coastal city. Meatballs are usually round and smallish, but these came out flattened, looking something like miniburgers, probably the influence of family tradition since the instructions called for an egg-shaped meatball. We had some unfrozen mixed ground meat on hand originally intended for meatloaf that was detoured into this recipe, which already was a bit indecisive about the animal type: lamb or beef. With the mixed meat combo substitution, it turned out really tasty.


1 lb lean ground lamb or beef (substitute veal/beef/pork combo)
1 large egg
1/4 c dry bread crumbs
3 to 5 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 t cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 T vegetable oil
tomato sauce
3/4 c water
1 T tomato paste
2 T lemon juice
1/4 t garlic powder
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Mix all the meatball ingredients except the oil and divide into 20 equal sized meatballs.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and brown the meatballs (entire surface) and set aside. Drain the skillet.
  3. Add the tomato sauce ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes. Return the meatballs to the skillet and just cook until the meatballs are heated through.


  1. ani kept the meatballs separate and poured the sauce over the ones we actually ate the first night, leaving unstained meatballs for leftovers another night.
  2. The recipe says serve this with bulgur pilaf. We had it with rice pilaf once (plain yogurt on the side) and then as leftovers with some wierd mashed potato variation. Delightfully tasty both times.
  3. Illustrations available.
mixmtbll.htm: 17-jan-2005 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]