All of my favorite tastes in one bowl. The sweet of the raisins goes nicely with the heat of the cayenne and the tang of the feta cuts the richness of the lamb. Plus toasty pine nuts which are basically my crack so I put them on everything.
You could serve this over rice or couscous if you're trying to stretch the meal, but I think it's good alone in a bowl, spooned into your mouth. After all, if you eat it plain, you save room in your tummy for more lamb.
Note: Chickpeas can be canned, but I think they're better if cooked from scratch. That being said, no judging from this corner since I get how life can be. And if you were wanting to pull this off on a Tuesday, using canned chickpeas makes this a fairly quick meal (long ingredient list not withstanding).
dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (canned is ok)
In a large stock pot, combine the chickpeas, bay leaf, parmesan rind, kosher salt and dried peppers. Cover with ~2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Cook until the chickpeas are tender, about 60-90 minutes depending on the age of the beans, altitude, etc. When they are done, remove from heat. If I am cooking them ahead of time, I leave them in the cooking liquid, but you don't have to. This will make more chickpeas that required for the recipe, but I've never found that to be too terrible a situation.
In a small sauce pan, combine tomatoes, raisins, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper to taste and simmer over low heat while you make the meatballs.
Gently combine the lamb, garlic, cumin, cayenne, coriander, salt, onion, mint and bread crumbs in a medium bowl (using your hands is best). Shape into small meatballs (about 1" in diameter). This should give you around 24 meatballs.
Heat 1 T olive oil in a wide sauté pan (at least 2" deep) over medium high heat. Cook the meatballs in two batches, 3 minutes per side on the top and bottom for a total of 6 minutes. Don’t worry if they're not cooked all the way through - they will finish cooking in the tomato sauce. Remove meatballs to a paper towel lined plate. Do not clean out the pan.
In the same pan used to cook the meatballs, add 2 cups cooked chickpeas and fry for a few minutes until somewhat browned. Add in the tomato sauce and the meatballs and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. If the sauce gets a little tight, add some liquid (broth, water, chickpea cooking liquid).
Spoon some of the mixture into a shallow bowl and top with toasted pine nuts, feta and chopped mint.
Full-time working wife and mother of two small boys whose obsessive need to cook delicious food is threatening to take over what little free time I have. I grew up in a family of serious cookers but didn't learn to cook myself until I got married and got out of the military and discovered the joys of micro-graters, ethiopian food, immersion blenders and watching my husband roll around on the floor after four servings of pulled pork tamales (with real lard!) complaining that he's so full he can't feel his legs. Trying to graduate from novice cooker to ranked amateur. The days of 'the biscuit incident of aught five' as my husband refers to it are long past but I still haven't tried my hand at paella so I'm a work in progress!