Recipe: Shawarma Lamb Meatballs with Sumac Veggies

Not too long ago, my doctor advised that I try a low-FODMAP diet to help curb a variety of digestive issues I was experiencing. The purpose of such a diet is similar to the premise behind Whole 30 – you eliminate all sorts of troublesome foods so that you can hone in on the ones that make you feel the worst.

FODMAPs are in a category all their own – there are some elements of lactose-free and gluten-free diets, but not all dairy and gluten is restricted. This recipe happens to be all three: lactose-free, gluten-free, and low-FODMAP (!). I cobbled together this recipe when confronted with the restrictions of my FODMAP diet (if you’re curious, take a look at my list of restricted ingredients).

This recipe is heavily inspired by middle-eastern cuisine and utilizes the smoky, aromatic Baharat spice blend. You can find this in specialty markets, but you can also create your own spice blend using more common spices available in your grocery store.

Although not traditionally found in most middle-eastern dishes, I chose amaranth as the “grain” base of the dish in lieu of pita bread or bulgur, as a gluten-free and super healthy option. If you’ve never had amaranth, this is a great recipe to give it a try! Learn more about this ancient Mesoamerican superfood here.

To further make this recipe low-FODMAP friendly, I used lactose-free plain yogurt, and made my own “panko” by smashing a gluten-free rice cereal into crumbs. Chives serve as an onion substitute, and although they don’t come close to replacing the real thing, they do provide the mild onion flavor which is key to so many savory flavor profiles.

My goal here was to curb my digestive issues while still enjoying delicious food in a variety of cuisines. The best compliment I could receive about this recipe is that it was a great success with my fiance, who has none of these dietary restrictions. It’s one thing to eat low-FODMAP because you have to, it’s another thing to eat low-FODMAP and truly enjoy it. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Shawarma Lamb Meatballs with Sumac Veggies

A gluten, lactose, and FODMAP free dinner with yummy Middle Eastern spices!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 763 kcal


  • 1 cup amaranth
  • 2 1/2 tbsp chicken stock concentrate
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini squash
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 16 oz ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free rice cereal
  • 2 tbsp Baharat spice blend
  • 1/2 oz fresh parsley
  • 1 small lemon
  • 1 container lactose-free yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tahini paste


Cook the Amaranth

  1. Combine amaranth, chicken stock concentrate, 3 cups water, and a pinch of salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook until water is fully absorbed and grains have a thick, creamy consistency, 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered. While the amaranth cooks, get started on the remaining steps.

  2. Preheat the oven or broiler to 500 degrees.

Prepare and Roast the Veggies

  1. Wash and dry all produce.

  2. Prepare the veggies. Quarter tomatoes through stem end. Halve zucchini lengthwise and slice into two-inch long wedges, discarding the ends. 

  3. Roast the veggies. Toss tomato and zucchini on a baking sheet with a large drizzle of olive oil. Add the sumac, and salt and pepper generously. Broil or roast until softened and slightly charred, 10-12 minutes.

    veggies on a baking sheet

Make the Meatballs

  1. Crunch the coating. Add rice cereal to a small ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin or the bottom of a pan until they reach a crumb-like consistency.

  2. Shape the meatballs. Mix the ground lamb, crushed rice krispies, Baharat spice blend, salt and pepper into a medium bowl to combine. Gently pat (don't roll) into golf ball-sized meatballs.

  3. Cook the meatballs. Heat a large drizzle of olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs to desired doneness, 6-10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.

    meatballs in a skillet

Finish and Plate

  1. Finish the Amaranth. Finely chop parsley and stir into amaranth. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Chop the chives.

  3. Make the tahini-yogurt sauce. Add the yogurt and tahini paste to a small bowl. Add the zest of 1 lemon, then slice lemon in half and squeeze juice into bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. 

    tahini yogurt sauce
  4. Plate and serve. Divide amaranth between plates. Top with veggies and meatballs. Dollop with a spoonful of the tahini-yogurt sauce, and garnish with chives. 

    shawarma lamb meatballs