Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in a mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tsp. of the cumin, the cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp. of the cayenne and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juices, 1 cup water, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a steady simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, prepare the meatballs: Mash the breadcrumbs and milk with a fork to a smooth paste. Add the beef, the remaining 1 tsp. cumin, half of the cilantro, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, several grinds of pepper, and the remaining 1/8 tsp. cayenne to the breadcrumbs. Mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Wet your hands to keep the mixture from sticking to them and roll a couple of tablespoons into 1-1/2-inch balls; you should have about 30. Nestle the meatballs into the sauce, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes to thicken the sauce. Stir in the remaining cilantro and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over couscous or white rice.
nutrition information (per serving):
26, Fat Calories
230, Saturated Fat
28, Monounsaturated Fat
31, Polyunsaturated Fat
Photo: Scott Phillips