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Falafel or meatballs with Indian tomato sauce or Italian tomato sauce

Serves: 10
Course: Dinner
Ingredients
  • Indian tomato sauce:
  • 2tbs vegetable oil
  • 1tbs dried curry leaves
  • 8cm cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 1tsp cloves
  • 10 green cardamom pods
  • 1tbs black onion seeds
  • 1tbs mustard seeds (black, brown or yellow)
  • 1tbs cumin seeds
  • 1tbs coriander seeds
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • Thumb-sized piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Two tins or jars of chopped or crushed tomatoes
  • 1tsp soft brown sugar
  • 60g fresh coriander
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Italian tomato sauce:
  • 4tbs olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3tbs dried oregano
  • A good grating of nutmeg
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2tbs tomato purée
  • 125g sun-dried tomatoes
  • Two 400g tins or jars of chopped or crushed tomatoes
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Shop bought or homemade meatballs/kofte and falafel
  1. For the Indian tomato sauce: Put the oil into a wide saucepan with a heavy base, and add the curry leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves and star anise. Stir them gently over a medium heat until they start to swell and colour slightly, and then add the onion, mustard, cumin and coriander seeds. As they begin to pop, add the chopped onions, chilli and ginger, and a small amount of water.
  2. Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, and add a little more water if they threaten to stick. Add the garlic and cook for another five minutes. Then add the tomatoes and stir the spices through. Add the sugar and half of the coriander, season to taste, and stir well. Swirl 100ml of water around each of the tins or jars to trap all the juice, and pour one into the other. Retain this to lighten the sauce later.
  3. Keeping the big pot on a low simmer, spoon one-third of the sauce into another saucepan, cover it and let it bubble on a very low heat. Check and stir it regularly, and add some tomato-water if it is thickening too much. After 20 minutes, turn off the heat, add the falafels to the sauce and stir carefully. Replace the lid and let them sit to absorb the flavour. In the meantime, drop the meatballs (or kofte) carefully into the simmering sauce and stir gently as you go along. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, and add more tomato water if needed.
  4. While the meatballs/kofta continue to cook, return the falafel pot to a low heat. Simmer both gently for 10 minutes.
  5. Divide the rest of the chopped coriander between the two pots. Serve with steamed basmati rice or mini naan bread pockets, which you can toast lightly before filling with the falafels or kofta.
  6. For the Italian tomato sauce: Heat the oil in a wide saucepan with a thick base, and add the onions, celery and bay leaf. Stir gently over a medium heat until the onions begin to colour. Add the garlic, tomato purée and a small amount of water.
  7. Cook over a low heat for five minutes, stirring often, then add the tomatoes, oregano and nutmeg, season to taste and stir well. Swirl 100ml of water around each of the tomato tins or jars to trap all the juice, and pour one into the other. Retain this in case you need to thin the sauce later.
  8. Add the sugar, and season to taste.
  9. Divide the sauce between two pots, and cook the falafel and the meatballs as per the falafel and meatballs/kofta recipe above. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley, and serve with rice or pasta.

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