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Spiced Lamb Meatballs "Bar Oso".

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

A recipe from James Walt at the famed Araxi Restaurant in Whistler (when are travel restrictions lifting, so on my bucket list). I absolutely adore meatballs, that is why you see them so often on my menu. My reason for this love is that every culture in the world has meatballs, each flavored and, yes, cooked differently. The ability of a chef to make the perfect round, soft and juicy meatball is truly an art form. This recipe is absolutely the best, in my opinion. Well worth the touch of effort.

For more recipes from this book click here.

Serves: 4-6 Cook time: 1 hour British Columbia, Canada


1/2 medium onion, sliced fine

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans (28 fl oz) peeled tomatoes, get the Italian San Marzano tomatoes please.

1/2 cup fresh basil

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oil in a pot (large enough to also contain the meatballs later). Add onions and garlic and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Chop up the canned tomatoes and add to the pot with all ingredients. Simmer gently for 20 minutes till a wonderful sauce develops. While the sauce simmers work on the meatballs. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside on a slow simmer.


1/2 onion, diced finely

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

4 tablespoons milk

2 lb ground beef, or ground lamb, or a mix of both

1 egg

1 tablespoon smoked paprika (mild)

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons parsley, minced

Olive oil to shallow fry

Add about 1 tablespoon oil for a frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Sauté till translucent, 3-5 minutes. Remove the cooked onions to a deep bowl and set the pan aside, you will need it again.

Add the breadcrumbs and milk to a bowl. Mix to form a thick paste. Add this paste and all other ingredients to the sautéed onions and mix well. Make small meatballs, about the size of a golf ball.

Note: Roll the meatballs gently and quickly. You do not want to over roll them onto hard balls, soft and gentle does it.

I usually make a teaspoon sized flat patty and quick fry it on a pan to taste for seasoning. Adjust as needed.

Heat the sauté pan again and add a touch of oil. Add meatballs and fry on medium high so the meatballs are browned evenly on all sides. Please note, the center will not be cooked and it is ok not to completely cook the meatballs evenly.

Add the fried meatballs to the tomato sauce and simmer for 30 minutes. The meatballs must be completely submerged in the sauce to allow them to Exchange flavors. Please stir the sauce occasionally and add some water to maintain a thick sauce. The end result would be a sauce that clings heavily to the meatballs, not too runny. To make the sauce thicker, simmer with the lid of the pot open. At this point you can simmer the sauce forever, it helps the flavors merge.

Serve with pasta, or just some bread, or make simple rolls adding some lettuce and Parmesan cheese. I just eat these as is, the flavor is deep, the meat juicy and overall delicious-ness!

Note: these meatballs can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days. Storing them in the fridge intensifies the flavors.

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