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Here is an ever-popular, finger-food, ideal for any party or BBQ. Summer, winter, it doesn’t matter. Savory meatballs are popular at any time of the year and appeal to all ages. And in all countries. Our savory meatballs are baked (healthier) easy to prepare, incorporate some great spices and are served with an easy, yogurt-based dipping sauce.
Don’t underestimate the appeal of meatballs. Seriously, can you think of anyone that doesn’t enjoy them? Kids love them because they are soft and they think they are cool! There are even vegetarian versions!
When I was growing up, there was definitely an assumption that meatballs were associated with spaghetti, served with a rich tomato-based sauce and therefore very Italian. No doubt about it! But was this true?
When I was growing up (yes I’m old, it was during the 1960’s) there was a huge Italian influence on our cuisine. It was way before Asian and Middle-Eastern foods or even before any other European influence came to the fore. Italian was the first cuisine to have an influence outside of the strong British influence on the Australian food landscape. Add to this the prevalence of lots of American television where meatballs often featured, it is no surprise that most people did associate meatballs with Italy. But is this true?
Where did Savory Meatballs Originate?
Luckily I’ve been able to visit a few countries since growing up in the 1960’s and I now realise that savory meatballs are eaten in most places around the world, albeit with their own local variations. So where did savory meatballs originate from?
Indonesia? Bakso (Indonesian meatball) was beloved by President Obama as a child.
China? Wikipedia says that Four Joy Meatballs were known to be an existence as far back as 200BC. That’s pretty ancient.
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Persia? Legend has it that Persia was the origin of all meatballs. The word Kofta originates here and is a word commonly used from Romania to Bangladesh and all countries in between.
Hard to tell really, but it is unlikely that meatballs originated in Italy.
Savory Meatballs Enjoyed all over the World
Regardless of where it originated from, meatballs are universally enjoyed all around the world. Savory meatballs have always been popular as a little minced meat can go a long way when mixed with bread, vegetables, herbs and spices.
Savory meatballs are usually meat-based and any meat works. Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, goat, take your pick they are all popular! But vegetarians don’t despair, why should you miss out on all the fun? Meatballs can be made with tempeh, mushrooms or lentils for example. Meatballs can be fried, baked, boiled, poached or steamed.
Meatballs can be served in soup, wrapped in wonton wrappers and served as dim sum, added to sauce and served with spaghetti, baked and served with baked vegetables. The options are endless. Even meatloaf is a large version of meatballs if you think about it.
|Servings||Prep Time||Cook Time|
- 1/2 lb pork, ground (minced)
- 1/2 lb beef, ground (minced)
- 1/4 tsp cumin, ground
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tbsp oregano, dried
- 1 egg
- 1 cup breadcrumbs or about 2 slices bread, processed
- salt, ground sea
- black pepper, ground
- Yogurt Mint Sauce
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1 tbsp mint, dried
- 1/4 tsp chili flakes or chilli powder (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 390 f (200 c)
- Add all meatball ingredients into a large bowl. Mix well. With wet hands, shape your meatballs, about 2/3 golf ball size.
- Place some baking paper on an oven tray, spread out the meatballs and bake for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare the yogurt mint sauce by combining all of the ingredients. Refrigerate until needed.
- Meatballs may be served warm or cool. Provide toothpicks.
Neli @ Delicious Meets Healthy
I agree, meatballs are truly a world cuisine! It seems like every culture has their own version of meatballs.
Your look so delicious!
Yes they are just popular everywhere. And such a bit-size treat. Thanks for your comment.
Bridget - The Recipe Wench
This recipe looks great — love the idea of dipping in yogurt sauce too! I’m living in Italy now — have been for about 13 years. Meatballs are a very, very casual food in this country (at least in the regions I’ve been too). Usually we can find them at a “gastronomia,” but not in a ristorante. I’m looking forward to trying Compass and Fork’s delicious version of meatballs!
I hope you are enjoying Italy, Bridget. It’s one of our favorite destinations. I like that these meatballs are baked not fried and yes the yogurt dip is a little different. Thanks for your comment
Yes we have meatballs too (middle east origin), which is a bit different, but I love the sauce so much, really lovely! I should try it! Pinned!
Farida, we like the middle east styles of meatballs too. We spent quite some time in Turkey and that is where the idea for the yogurt sauce came from. Thanks for your comment.
I love meatballs of all sorts, and these sound delicious. Love the spices!
Yes everyone likes meatballs, Valentina. It truly is one of the more popular food items around the world. Thanks for your comment.
Yummmmmm, meatballs are very popular in our home, thanks for the recipe and the backstory. Simple food is so good!
I don’t really know any child that doesn’t like them either, so great for the whole family. Thanks for your comment.
There are so many cultural items that seem to have simultaneously developed in multiple sites … I think that either there was a common denominator sharing that info with early humans (the whole alien story) or more likely … humans developed food and dance and music to suit our basic needs – no matter where we were located.
Meatballs are easy to make, transport, and eat. Love them in so many ways at my house … will be trying this recipe soon!
I like your idea on the common denominator. I find it fascinating how foods from locale end up in another. Maybe the early traders? Thanks for your comment.
Emma @ Supper in the Suburbs
I do love a good meatball! I love them in rich, Italian tomato Sauce, spicy Moroccan morsels and more! I don’t often have them baked though! I must rectify this! Great post 🙂
Thank you Emma. So many ways to prepare and cook meatballs, almost limitless really.
I love meatballs, and these look really nice, especially liking the addition of turmeric for colour and flavour.
Yes the turmeric is a bit of fun. A very underrated color agent, with great taste to boot. Thanks for your comment.
Sara | Belly Rumbles
these would be perfect wrapped in some naan bread for a “sub”.
Great idea for the meatballs in the naan bread, particularly with the yogurt dressing. Thanks for your comment Sara.
Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy
I love a good meatball….something about the simplicity that makes such a wonderful tasting meal. These sound awsome!!
Yes meatballs are just ever-popular. Perfect for party snacks and loved by almost everyone. Thanks for your comment.
Meatballs are so versatile! This one looks delicious, and perfect for a New Years or Christmas Even small plates party 🙂
Yes it is amazing how versatile they are and how they are embraced all over the world.
I love the seasonings you added to the meatballs and the yogurt mint sauce sounds like the perfect accompaniment!
Sarah, thank you so much. I like the yellow tinge provided by the turmeric and I do like my meatballs just slightly (spice) warm.
Kathi @ Laughing Spatula
Who knew meat balls had such a wonderful history! Lovely recipe, thanks for sharing!
Yeah I sort of like the background history when it is relevant. The bottom line is that meatballs have their local variants everywhere. Thanks for your comment.
Shelby @ Go Eat and Repeat
Meatballs are so versatile everywhere! These look great to make for a New Years party!
They are perfect for party finger food. And who doesn’t enjoy them? Thanks for your comment.