Speedy Pure Beef Meatballs in Tomato, Coconut and Chilli Sauce

Pure beef meatballs? What do I even mean? I mean a meatball that has nothing but beef in. Isn’t that a burger? No! Bear with me.

This speedy supper was inspired by my lush little chilli garden. 8 plants in a raised bright yellow planting table (I have about 16 chilli plants scattered around the garden, just call me hot head). It comes with a transparent deep lid, and like a mini greenhouse, helped my chilli plants off to a rich start. My plants are bushy and lush, and are laden down with gorgeous hot chillies. They are starting to turn red, but have been wonderful green too.

My favourites are the jalapeños sliced fine and placed the other day on my juicy intensely red Santorini tomatoes which had grown a metre away, and a little parasol of neighbouring nasturtium leaves on top. Crisp large flakes of sea salt made these a perfect bite. I also love the serrano chillies, fever hot and intense, they were perfection in the sauce that accompanied the meatballs. Enough to wake my senses on that crazy rainy day we had earlier in the week.

My chilli table, and surrounding vociferous tomato plants (which I will prune today!).

In my kitchen, what differentiates meatballs and burgers is that burgers are pure meat with seasoning, never breadcrumbs, whereas meatballs I make bouncy and smooth with some breadcrumbs soaked in milk or coconut milk. I cook meatballs through, I like my burgers pink. This time I didn’t put breadcrumbs in my meatballs. I seasoned the meat and kneaded it with my hands as you would when making seekh kebabs, until sticky. Then I shaped them into meatballs, and fried them in the sauce, not before, retaining all flavour and juices in the finished dish. They were perfection.

This dish is very simple but there is one important detail that you mustn’t miss. Source good quality minced beef with 20% fat. Your local butcher should have it, sadly most supermarkets sell lean minced beef which is lacking as a result in texture and flavour. The fat will allow you to easier bring the meat together and it will taste better too. 20% might sounds like a lot but this is the normal amount for any burger. Fat is not a foe, fat is important for absorbing fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K and essential (yes, essential) fatty acids linoleic and linolenic acid. As with everything just don’t have too much of it, but embrace dressing on your salad so that you can get the best from it and don’t be afraid of fat on your meat.

The dish that was so good, I made it twice in two days. Once with noodles, and here with cous cous.

As with all simple dishes, good fresh ingredients make for a better result. I use a gorgeous large fresh tomato for the sauce, and it was glorious. Tomato season is wonderful, I always make the most of it.


(I have been asked many times where my readers can get my grow table – it is an Elho one which I bought in my local garden centre, but Amazon sell them also – Elho Grow Table.)

Pure Beef Meatballs in Tomato, Coconut and Chilli Sauce
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Pure Beef Meatballs in Tomato, Coconut and Chilli Sauce


  • 350g good fresh tomato (that is what my large tomato weighed!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, coarse end sliced off
  • one hot chilli (I used a serrano)
  • 150ml coconut milk
  • 400g minced beef (20% fat)
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • fresh coriander to finish (I used baby coriander here which I love as the seed is often still attached and has great intense flavour)
  • 1 tbsp oil for frying (I used extra virgin olive oil)


  • Put the minced beef in a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste (you can fry off little bits to taste). Knead the meat in the bowl until sticky / tacky, about 4 or 5 minutes, then shape into little meatballs the size of ping pong balls. Leave covered while you prepare the sauce, which should take no more than 15 minutes, start to finish.
  • Now for my terrifically speedy tomato sauce. It works very well in tomato season when the tomatoes are at their best. Blitz the garlic and chilli in your food processor or blender until fine, then add your tomato, stem removed but skin still on, and blitz until soup-y.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan / skillet and add the tomato mix. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat, allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, bring to the boil and reduce the heat again. Cook for a further 5 minutes then add the meatballs.
  • Season the sauce then add the meatballs to the sauce and allow to cook gently until browned through. Once you see the meat browning above the rim of the sauce, turn each meatball over with a fork. This sounds fiddly but it saves time and effort as you don't need to stir as they cook.
  • Serve with rice, noodles, cous cous or just simply on toast! Aren't they lovely? Enjoy!
  • https://eatlikeagirl.com/speedy-pure-beef-meatballs-tomato-coconut-chilli-sauce/



    Written by Niamh
    Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.