Kali Orexi’s Greek Spiced Meatballs with Baby Eggplants Recipe

Spiced Meatballs with Baby Eggplants is a recipe interpreted from a delicious dish we had at our favourite lunch spot in Athens – Diporto.

Kyrio Dimitri has been working and cooking at Diporto since 1957, from 13 years of age. He cooks real food with love, understanding and lots of olive oil. He can be a little gruff when he first greets you and he is kind of secretive about his recipes, but he loves nothing more than to see the dishes he serves you wiped clean and the smile of satiation and satisfaction on your face at the end of your meal.

We first enjoyed this dish in July 2016, and on our trips back to Greece since then, if we have a few days in Athens, we’ll drop in for lunch to Diporto and make a special request for this dish to be prepared for us the following day. While eating this dish, I have tried to intuit the ingredients and the cooking process and then I have recreated it at home. It comes mighty close to the original and the best part is that everyone that has tried it, has loved it.

Make it now and please let me know if you love it too!


KO’s Greek Spiced Meatballs with Baby Eggplants Recipe

Spiced Meatballs with Baby Eggplants combines delicious cumin-spiced meatballs with tender, baby eggplants bathed in a gorgeous 'tomato olive oil sauce' and it's so dang goooooood!


  • 800 - 900 g full-fat beef mince
  • 4 cloves garlic finely crushed or processed
  • 3 brown onions finely grated or processed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 level teaspoons salt
  • 5 level teaspoons cumin
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil EVOO
  • 750 ml tomato passata
  • 2 small-medium purple onions
  • Extra salt
  • ½ a bunch continental parsley leaves only
  • 10-12 baby eggplants


Preparing the Spiced Meatballs

  1. Combine the mince-meat, garlic, brown onions, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt and cumin well

  2. Add half a cup EVOO to a baking pan and heat on medium

  3. While the oil is heating up, roll the meatball mixture into balls of approximately 4cm diameter and place them in the pan

  4. •When the meatballs have browned on one side, turn them over and cook them until they brown a little on the other side; then turn the heat off

Preparing the Spiced Meatballs with Baby Eggplants

  1. Pour the passata evenly over the meatballs

  2. Peel and cut the purple onions in half; cut each half lenghthwise; and then cut each quarter into 3 equal segments, so onion pieces have a ‘square shape’

  3. Separate all the onion layers and lay them across the top of the meatballs

  4. Season with salt

  5. Scatter continental parsley leaves across the top of the baking pan

  6. Cut the tops of the eggplants and discard them; slice the eggplants in half, lengthwise

  7. Arrange them across the top of the baking pan, cut side facing downwards

  8. Season with more salt

  9. Pour the remaining olive oil across the top of the eggplants

  10. Cover the pan with aluminium foil, ensuring there are vents from which the steam can be released

  11. Bake in a oven pre-heated to 200°C fan-forced for 50 minutes

  12. Remove the foil and gently embed all of the eggplants into the ‘tomato olive oil sauce’

  13. Bake for a further 20 minutes uncovered

Serving the Spiced Meatballs with Baby Eggplants

  1. Serve the ‘Spiced Meatballs with Baby Eggplants’ with KO’s Risoni-Rice, Greek yoghurt and crusty bread to sop up all the oily-tomato sauce

Recipe Video

Key Points

  • When processing the onions, do not ‘over-process’ them, as they will start to release their fluids and become wet and mushy. You want the onions to be chopped finely, but remain dry
  • When browning the meatballs, brown them well on one side and then brown them less on the other side (the side that faces downwards when all the other ingredients are added). During the baking phase, the bottom of the meatballs will brown further (so, if you overcook them on the cooktop, you risk burning them during the baking phase)
  • The baby eggplants can be replaced with regular eggplants cut into thick slices (1.5cm thickness)
  • The more oil you add to this dish, the more delicious it becomes. When we had this dish at Diporto, it was drowning (in the nicest possible way) in oil infused with all the flavours of the dish and we absolutely loved sopping it all up with crusty bread. Here I have suggested that 1 cup of EVOO is a good starting point for this dish. You could easily increase that to 1 ½ - 2 cups if you want
  • Recipe can be halved, but you may need to add a little extra passata – 400-450ml
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