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Meatball vs frikadelle

As you know all to well by now, I grew up in Sweden. My Mama is as Swedish as can be and as a result i basically have meatballs running through my veins… I think meatballs are not only delicious to eat, but als o super therapeutic to make. There’s just something about rolling something in your hand repeatedly while gazing out the window…

Ok that sounded weird, but I’m gonna put it out there.

This recipe that I am about to share with you is not technically a meatball, but a frikadelle. So what the frik is the difference? (pause for laughter).

To my knowledge from my upbringing the Danish word for meatball is frikadell, and traditionally these are cooked by steaming or boiling as opposed to frying, which is customary for the Swedish meatball köttbulle (kött= meat bulle = ball or roll).

Upon googling frikadelle, a bunch of Belgian and Dutch recipes show up, so it’s no coincidence that the recipe I am about to share with you comes from South Africa, where the Dutch have a big influence over both language and cuisine. Debby, who used to work in the recipe development team, is a passionate South African, so I 100% credit this recipe to her. The only slight change I have made is to add a couple of extra servings of vegetables on the side, because that is how I roll (see what I did there?!)

Next week this recipe features on the Family Menu, because every time it does, it gets a 5-star review.

South African frikadelle with marble mash and onion gravy

For the frikadelles:

500 g Beef mince and beef sausage meat (can be pork sausage meat, but this week is a pork free week in the family bag)
2 tsp Frikadelle spice mix (see below)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup Breadcrumbs
1 small Brown onion, grated
2 clove Garlic, crushed
1 Egg, beaten
2 tbsp Rice bran oil for frying

For the onion gravy:

1 large Brown onion, sliced
2 cup Beef stock
Black pepper to taste

For the marble mash:

400 g Orange kumara, diced
600 g Red kumara, diced
4 tbsp Butter, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

For the vegetables:

1 head Broccoli, chopped
½ head Cauliflower, chopped
Butter (optional)

For the spice mix:

1 tsp Ground coriander
½ tsp Ground nutmeg
½ tsp Allspice powder


For the frikadelles, mince mixture in a large mixing bowl. Chop the onion for the frikadelle very finely, or grate coarsely, and finely slice the onion for the gravy – keep separate. Add spice mix, salt and pepper, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic and egg to the mince, and mix together with your hands or a wooden spoon. Roll into golf ball sized meatballs and set aside.
  Handy hint: Keep hands wet when rolling meatballs to stop the mixture sticking to your hands.   Get started on the marble mash. Scrub the kumara, then dice into 2-3 cm pieces. Place in a large pot, just covered with water and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain the water from the pot and mash until smooth. Add the butter and salt and pepper to taste, then mix for another minute. Cover with a lid and set aside until the meatballs and gravy are ready to serve.

  Fry the frikadelles while the kumara is cooking. Heat oil to a medium-high heat in a large heavy based pan. Add the meatballs and fry all over until golden brown and cooked through – about 6-8 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, set aside and keep warm. If you don’t have a large enough pan to fit the meatballs comfortably, fry in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Retain the juices in the pan for the gravy.

  For the vegetables, bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Cut broccoli and cauliflower into small florets, and chop some of the stem. Add to the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, then drain and toss with butter if desired.

  Cook the gravy once the frikadelle are out of the pan, add the finely sliced onion. On a medium heat sauté the onion for about 3-4 minutes or until soft and a little browned around the edges. Add the stock to the pan, simmer steadily for 5-8 minutes or until the gravy reduces and thickens. Taste and season with black pepper as desired.

  To serve, place the frikadelles on top of the marbled mash and pour gravy over the top. Season with salt and black pepper at the table and tuck into this hearty South African dish.