Curried Vegetarian Meatballs

I am a magazine hoarder. It’s gotten better since I can now keep most magazines on my iPad but for the most part, I still love the tactile experience. When I was younger, I’d rip pages out of my mother’s food magazines to save and most of those pages are still in a binder I keep. It’s one of the many places from where I draw inspiration. This month’s Bon Appetit had a gem of a recipe for curried meatballs. I fell in love with the sauce before I even made it and knew it would be perfect with my favorite vegetarian meatballs. Turns out I was right. It’s a bit of prep but I think well worth it. The flavor of the sauce with the tenderness of the meatballs is my perfect meal.

Curried Vegetarian 'Meat'balls

Curried Vegetarian Meatballs

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 60 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings



  • ½ cup brown or green lentils
  • 1¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1/4 cup diced scallions
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup crushed pecans
  • ¼ cup crushed walnuts
  • ¼ cup whole wheat panko
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 recipe for curry sauce (see note)


  1. Combine lentils and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until lentils are tender, 23 to 25 minutes. If lentils are not tender and water has been absorbed, add more water and continue to cook. Drain off any excess water.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat and add the scallions, garlic and carrots, cooking and cook for 4 to 6 minutes until carrots are tender.
  3. In a food processor, combine the cooked lentils, onion mixture, nuts, panko, herbs, salt, and pepper. Pulse a few times to start combining the mixture. Crack the egg in and pulse a few more times until the mixture is combined but the lentils are still holding shape. Set aside and let rest while the oven preheats to 425˚ F.
  4. Take the lentil mixture and roll into 12 balls, roughly the size of a golfball. Place on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and brush with olive oil. Bake meatballs until browning and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Prepare the sauce as instructed. Once the sauce is done cooking, add the lentil meatballs to the sauce and serve (no need to cook the meatballs longer.)


I followed the recipe for the sauce closely except I left out the dried chiles as I was not looking for a spicy sauce.

Variations for the vegetarian meatballs

I didn’t mess with the sauce too much from the original recipe so really the variations are within the meatballs and the best ways to serve these vegetarian meatballs.

vegan/gluten-free: If you’re looking to make these meatballs vegan, I recommend using 3 tablespoons water with 1 tablespoons flax seed. This helps bind the meatballs. And if you’re looking to make these gluten-free, you can simply use gluten-free bread crumbs.

Grain: I served these over brown rice but millet or quinoa would be a great, quicker alternative.

Toppings: I didn’t include this on my recipe but yogurt makes an excellent topping (especially if you use the dried chiles). Also, if cilantro isn’t your favorite, use parsley to top.

Curried Vegetarian Meatballs with Brown Rice