It’s been snowing outside for a few days now. Today it stopped, leaving the trees tops, the hills and the houses coated with an icing of powdery white. The air is clear and crisp although colored in shades of grey … and it’s cold. It’s the kind of cutting cold that goes straight to the bone benumbing toes, fingers and faces. I’ve had cold feet and hands for days that do not seem to warm up regardless of the hot baths, the feet stuck to the heater or the multiple layers of socks.
The cure had to come from the inside.
It had to be the soul-warming, intense-satisfying kind of cure, which only comes with a big bowl of comfort food. Meatballs are right up there on the top list of favorite comfort foods for us. While the pot simmers away in a wonderful thick sauce, the house begins to smell irresistible and inviting, chasing away the chill.
Meatballs and spaghetti, the Italian-American is a classic dish we grew up eating. But there is more to meatballs than pasta and a tomato sauce. When the mighty meatball travels the world it takes on many different luscious forms - each one more delectable than the other. The Greek have their keftedes, the Mexicans indulge in albóndigas, while the Swedish make köttbullar, in Germany you will find Königsberger Klopse, the Italians serve polpette alla casalinga, in Ukraine the bikti is popular, while Lebanese have kaftas, the Moroccans serve a kefta and the Danish make a mean frikadellar. Each country adding a special twist to make their meatballs special.
Contrary to popular belief, meatballs are not only an Italian dish. Throughout history, many nations and cultures have laid claim on the humble meatball. The meatball has become varied to accommodate different tastes, available ingredients, and even religious traditions.
The first mentions of meatballs is dated back to the time of the Romans, found in an ancient recipe book written by Marcus Gavius Apicus (Apicius), who was born in 25 AD.
Since then meatballs have also been found in other parts of the world. In Asian, Middle Eastern and North African cooking the kofta is found in rissoles, croquettes, and dumplings, where they are made of ground or mashed meat, which is mixed with ingredients such as rice, bulgur or vegetables. In India, koftas can be made with fish, or even without meat, using only vegetables. Here the kofta may have a spicy filling and contain nuts, cheeses, or egg.
Swedish meatballs, kötbullar, first made their appearance in a 1754 cookbook by Cajsa Warg. Kötbullar are served with a creamy gravy and lingonberry preserves and have become Sweden’s national dish.
Italian immigrants brought along their own meatball - polpette recipes to the “new world”, many of which had evolved according to family tradition. Polpette were not initially served with spaghetti but the two forces came together in order to please American guests, who frequented Italian restaurants and wanted meat served alongside their pasta dishes, thus creating another classic dish.
And Turkey boasts over 80 types of meatballs, each type made just a bit differently according to its region of origin!
When it is as cold as it currently is, I love making a divine thick gravy spiced with warming Indian spices like coriander, cumin, garam masala and chili to heat things up from the core. For my ultimate comforting dish, the koftas are simmered in a tangy tomato sauce spiced up with some of my favorite Indian spices, giving it a fantastic kick.
What is your favorite meatball recipe?
A plate laced with steamy hot, perfumed rice and spicy meatballs wrapped in a wonderfully thick gravy is all I needed to feel the warmth of comfort and spice. With such gorgeous colorful meals inside, the cold outside has little chance of taking control.
Meals like this also keep me invigorated and energized, adding a great level of nutrition and substance to the busy days. I am in the middle of planning three workshops simultaneously, London, Ireland and next week I shall reveal the third one. Hang on to your seatbelts! I am also working on a fantastic new photo project and organizing our ski trip in February. No wonder I need comforting bowls of meatballs to keep me going! have a great week and weekend ahead everyone!
You might like these comfort food ideas ideas from WFLH:
|Fettucine with Spicy Lamb Sausage Meatballs||Mint Lamb Meatballs with Spelt Risotto and a Coriander Pesto||Lamb and Quince Tagine|
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