This recipe from the January 2020 issue of BBC Good Food Magazine jumped out at me on account of my love of Levantine cuisine. The countries that sit along the eastern Mediterranean coastline circling Cyprus (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine) together make up the Fertile Crescent, an area commonly thought to be the birth place of agriculture and often referred to as the 'cradle of civilisation'.
Linking three continents, its not surprising that the Levant is characterized by variety. From geography and linguistics to culture and religion - contrast is not unusual across this expansive space. Its biodiversity is particularly vast; a glorious feature of Levantine food. Despite this variety, there are many similarities between the cuisines of its countries. Lemons, mint, parsley and coriander are signature flavours alongside cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and cardamon. Harissa, sumac, tahini and pomegranate seeds also feature widely. The list goes on.
These Lebanese-style meat balls were easy to make with just a few simple ingredients; good quality lean minced lamb, onion, garlic, cumin, lemon zest and black pepper.
Brown rice cooked in cumin with green lentils added towards the end (the mujadara) was something different for us and a huge hit with the children.
Things were made even simpler when it came to the sauce. I had a good quantity of dressing left over from yesterday's meal (and my ever so slightly adapted side dish from a Donna Hay recipe). With lemon juice and tahini underpinning both, this was an ideal opportunity to cut out the final step and incorporate some leftovers.
Clean plates all round and a solid 8.5/10 rating from the troops makes this evening's meal a small triumph.