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Ghillie Basan recipe: Mini meatballs stuffed with roasted pistachios

Mezze, the great Middle Eastern tradition of small bites such as these these wonderful mini meatballs, are great for gatherings of friends and family, says author Ghillie Basan.

4 - 6
Published: October 17, 2015

1 In a small heavy-based pan, roast the pistachios for 1-2 minutes, until they emit a nutty aroma. Using a pestle and mortar, break most of them into small pieces.

2 In a bowl, pound the minced lamb with the onion, garlic and cinnamon. Knead it with your hands and slap the mixture down into the base of the bowl to knock out the air. Add the parsley and seasoning and knead well to make sure it is thoroughly mixed.

3 Take cherry-size portions of the mixture in your hands and roll them into balls. Indent each ball with your finger, right into the middle, and fill the hollow with a few of the crushed pistachios, and seal it by squeezing the mixture over it and then rolling the ball once more.

4 Heat a thin layer of oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Place the meatballs in the pan and cook them on all sides, until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with the remaining crushed pistachios, and serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over them.


  • 2–3 tbsp pistachios, shelled
  • 250g lean minced lamb
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a splash of sunflower oil
  • 1–2 lemons, cut into wedges
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