Majboos Chicken and Cabbage Meatballs

Meatballs came into my life lately and so I want to make up for all the years I have missed it. The frenzy started off with my Swedish meatballs attempt and then there was no looking back. I thought it was just a phase, but it is been more than a few months now! Currently on Week 7 of our 12-week low carb diet program, and meatballs are a part of our daily diet because I am the chef you all! :-) well, okay there is a reason...

On Friday, the 20th July F requested to make biryani. We were on our week 2 of the diet. I would have happily made it if our diet allowed bone-in chicken! I am not a chicken breasts lover and to build a biryani on something I don't enjoy is reason enough to turn down the request. Moreover, I had to include a good portion of vegetable too! We were contemplating over the lunch idea while eating our eggy breakfast and I had a bulb moment! Meatballs!!!

Why Meatballs? 

We eat measured and then cooked food as per the diet chart. Also called Quantitive Nutrition in the diet world. Now, making meatballs including a vegetable makes it easy for me to divide the portion between us. Else, I used to count the chicken pieces and fish them out of the curry. There are days I do make curries and keep a count of the chicken and veg pieces as per our diet needs and serve accordingly but it is hard to make the meat-eater eat the cooked veggies without frowning. And imagine the chaos to fish our the boneless white meat from a pot of biryani and then serve with a side dish of stir fry? What blasphemy! That's why meatballs!

Majboos Chicken and Cabbage Meatballs happened because I had a stock of bezar spice mix and cabbage was the only vegetable I had in hand. Most meatballs recipe includes either eggs or breadcrumbs or both as a binder but I believe the binder is required mostly only for already ground meat that is in the form of granules. When we use chicken breasts as is and grind it, it becomes a binder itself so you just need a very little of some kind of healthy flour. I am saying out of umpteen experience of making meatballs now for almost 7 weeks! :-)

A lot of Indian or Arabic meatballs or koftas don't call for breadcrumbs or eggs. They are made purely with the meat and the flavours. I had oats for that week's diet chart so used a little oats flour just as an insurance and it worked beautifully! I have already tried with flax meal and chia seeds and they too work great! These meatballs are juicy, easy to cut (won't fly off the plate or no struggling) and flavourful!

Majboos Chicken and Cabbage Meatballs

Now, trust me when I say, when you get creative you follow your instinct instead of looking for precautions and recipes on google. I was like that, feared to fail or wanted to know if any established recipe was there already so I don't have to "test" etc. but ever since on this diet journey, I have no time to research recipes, find authenticity, calculate the quantity to halve or double the recipe, etc I just go with the flow with whatever I have on my diet chart and what spice mix I have in hand. Cooking this way is kind of liberating in a way at least for my kind who prefer the rulebooks. :-P

Majboos Chicken and Cabbage Meatballs

It is the small techniques that will give success than following a recipe to the T!
  • The only reason I chose to cook the cabbage before adding to the mixie was for health reasons. But I am sure adding raw cabbage may not be a great idea if we want to keep the meatballs intact.
  • If using chopped ginger and garlic, then grind them first before adding the chicken. The idea is to aid the grinding process to mix all the ingredients evenly with the chicken.
  • Trust your nose along with your tongue when you are adjusting the spices and salt before making the balls. Most of the time the smell will give you the hint of what is missing and use the tongue to fix the salt. Only then you should go ahead and make the balls.  
  • Always keep the quantity of the meat more than the vegetable and use any vegetable precooked so you can avoid using breadcrumbs and eggs. 

When I shared this on the Stories, I got bombarded on dm asking for the recipe. I would have but held off because I wanted to get back to blogging recipes which would mean I need to make it again. I made Majboos Chicken and Cabbage Meatballs two days ago but this time with different quantities as per our week's diet plan. And I have tweaked the recipe but images are of the first attempt.

I knew Rafeeda had a trending Majboos recipe on her blog and so adapted that to make this.

Btw, I read somewhere that Majboos / Machboos means "to be engaged" and is common around the Gulf countries in different names.

So here you go... 

Majboos Chicken and Cabbage Meatballs

Chicken and Cabbage Meatballs Machboos 


For the meatballs: Yields 14
150 grams cabbage, chiffonade and cooked with salt until no moisture and cooled
300 grams chicken boneless breasts, cut into small chunks
1/2 medium onion, chopped small chunks
2 to 3 green chillies, chopped roughly
1 teaspoon garlic paste or 2 to 3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon bezar spice mix (click the link for recipe)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
a dash of cinnamon powder
2 tablespoon oats flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoon of olive oil or ghee or butter

For the rice:
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small loomi / black lime
1" cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 large onion, diced finely
1 medium tomato, chopped finely
1/4 teaspoon bezar spice mix
150 grams basmati rice (2/3 cup), washed and soaked for 30 minutes and drained
a pinch of saffron soaked in a tablespoon of hot water
1 and 1/2 cup boiling hot water*
*Use as per your rice brand.


For the Meatballs: 

Majboos Chicken and Cabbage Meatballs

  1. Keep all the ingredients ready
  2. Cook the cabbage and let it cool
  3. Prepare the bezar spice mix if you don't have already
  4. Add all the ingredients except the oil into a large mixie grinder and pulse a few times until well combined. You should stir and wipe down the contents and pulse until everything is one big mass
  5. Transfer to a bowl and make equal sized meatballs (approx 14)
  6. Let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes in the fridge for the flavours to marry. At this point, you can freeze individually and then pack in box or bag. 
  7. Heat some choice of oil in a pot and brown the meatballs until cooked - 5 to 7 minutes. 
  8. Remove the meatballs and keep aside
  9. Use the same pot for making the rice.
For the rice

Majboos Chicken and Cabbage Meatballs

  1. Add ghee or olive oil
  2. Add the whole spices and saute until fragrant
  3. Add the onions and saute until almost caramelized
  4. Add the tomatoes and saute until mushy
  5. Add the bezar spice mix
  6. Add the drained rice and fry for a few seconds
  7. Pour enough HOT water to submerge the rice
  8. Drop the meatballs carefully and bring to boil on high flame
  9. Let it boil until there is no water on the surface 
  10. Reduce to lowest flame 
  11. Sprinkle the saffron water and give a stir
  12. Cover the pot with foil and then close with a tight lid
  13. Keep a flat pan below this pot to prevent burnt food (optional)
  14. Cook for 10 minutes and switch off the flame
  15. Let it stay undisturbed for at least 15 minutes 
  16. Serve warm with yoghurt or tomato salad
The below image is my second attempt and I had not "caramelized" the onion out of time crunch but made sure to add saffron this time and that the colour difference. 

Majboos Chicken and Cabbage Meatballs

F had no clue that these meatballs had veggies... He kept coming into the kitchen like a cat that smells meat... and when I served the Majboos chicken and cabbage meatballs, his eyes lit up with happiness, "No veggies today?" I didn't want to disappoint him so let him eat with what he believed! :-D

Eid Mubarak lovelies! 

More meatballs recipes? Check out my Daoud Basha recipe and Persian cabbage polo recipe!


I would love to hear from you. If you have made this recipe then do leave a comment below. If you like this recipe then do share the recipe link on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Follow me on Instagram and mention @butfirstchaai or tag #butfirstchaiblog so that I can see your creations!