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Lamb meatballs, recipe calls for semolina?

I'm guessing it's to work as a binding agent like bread crumbs, but what exactly is it, where can I get semoline and is there something I can use instead if I can't find it?

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  1. You can get it in middle eastern or Indian grocery stores. I've used cream of wheat instead, but that was a much different recipe...maybe give us some details about the recipe - are the meatballs stewed?

    1. Here's the recipe:
      Aromatic Lamb Meatballs
      Recipe courtesy Nigella Lawson

      1 pound ground lamb
      1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      1 teaspoon ground cumin
      1 teaspoon ground allspice
      1 teaspoon salt
      3 tablespoons semolina
      1 egg
      Vegetable oil, for frying

      Put the lamb into a bowl and add the scallions. Sprinkle over the spices, salt, and semolina, and then beat the egg adding to the bowl. Work everything together thoroughly with your hands, and then cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator for half an hour.

      Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and scoop out a scant teaspoon of the mixture. Roll in your hands to form the meatball and place on the lined baking sheet. Have a bowl of cold water beside you to dampen your hands with; this helps them not get too sticky for rolling the meatballs.

      When you are ready to cook them, heat about 1/2-inch of oil in a frying pan. Line another baking sheet with kitchen towel, and when the oil is hot, fry the meatballs in batches without overcrowding the pan. Cook them for about a minute a side, or until golden brown all over.

      1. What it is, is a ground durum wheat product roughly the texture of corn meal - comes in different grades like cornmeal, some if finer, some is coarser. It's not the same thing, but bulgur wheat of similar texture would likely give similar results and not be quite as big a "substitute" as regular breadcrumbs. I've never quite understood what farina and/or cream of wheat are (I loathe hot cereal), but they might be more or less the same thing as semolina too.

        1. PS: I don't know where you are, but in the NY metro area ANY supermarket of any size carries Goya products, and they put out a couple of grades of bulgur. For this, I'd either use a fairly fine grind or soak and squeeze out a coarser one. With no soaking, I'm not sure coarse bulgur, like the kind you'd use for tabbouleh, would absorb liquid fast enough to become tender enough to eat.

          1. There are several brands available in mainstream grocery stores. Bob's Red Mill is one and I think it is Antoines Pasta Flour, some name that starts with an A

              1. Durm FLOUR is too fine to be a substitute for semolina, though, so just make sure you get the right package, if it's something meant for pasta!

                (Damn I wish I could edit my posts.)

                1 Reply
                1. re: MikeG

                  just to clear up some apparent misunderstandings here: Durum is a certain variety of wheat. its the name of the plant is all. when they grind up that plant you get what can be called Durum flour. you dont see this too often. this is a whole grain being that it contains the entire durum wheat berry, merely in flour form. they then take this ground up flour and process out the bran and germ (just like with "regular" wheat used in what we call all purpose flour) and you get what we call Semolina flour. that is it. semolina is the processed form of Durum flour.
                  The degree of fineness of either of these flours is up for grabs. you will be able to fine finer or courser versions of each theoretically, altho like i mentioned you dont see durum flour as much as you see any version of semolina flour.
                  if you read the ingredient list on most commercially available 'traditional' pastas you will most likely see SEMOLINA FLOUR. sometimes they try to make it seem like its made of whole durum by writing DURUM SEMOLINA FLOUR, but you should realize that as long as the word semolina is on there it is indeed the processed version and NOT the whole grain version. recently however, i have been seeing some pastas that are specifically labeled WHOLE DURUM FLOUR which is indeed a whole grain.
                  now, in meatballs i would say either would work. if you really couldnt find either just all purpose will SERVE THE SAME PURPOSE (read: binding agent), altho of course the flavor in the whole meatball may be a bit different. with all that cinnamon, etc in there tho youll never know the difference.

                2. If you have an Italian butcher/pasta store near you that makes their own ravioli, just go in and ask to buy whatever amount you need, like a cup or whatever. Then you won't be stuck with a bunch of it. Mine has coarse and fine, depnding on what I use it for.

                  1. cream of wheat is exactly the same thing: small balls of wheat, just a little larger. it should be fine.

                    1. Ben - can you point me to a reference for those specifics of durum flour vs semolina vs "semolina flour" (which I don't recall ever seeing personally) ?

                      1. its british - semolina is used to make a nursery pudding with milk and sugar. substitute durum flour sold to make pasta. bulgur and so on are much to granular. semolina is fine like cornflour in the US.