SPICE MIX: In a small bowl measure out and then stir together all the spices, garlic, and ginger (You can peel the ginger with a spoon or vegetable peeler and then finely mince it).
CHICKEN MEATBALLS: In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, grated yellow onion (peel and then grate on large holes of a box grater then measure to get a lightly packed and leveled 1/2 cup), panko, egg, cilantro, and lemon juice. Add 1/2 of the spice mix from step #1 (just eyeball out half of it) and season meatballs with salt and pepper to taste (I add 1 teaspoon of each). Knead the ingredients together until evenly combined. Do not overmix or overknead; stop as soon as ingredients are combined. Cover tightly and refrigerate this mixture until step 5.
SAUCE: While meatball mixture is chilling, make the sauce. Heat the 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet; add in the 1 and 1/2 cups finely diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 7-9 minutes. Reduce the heat if it begins to burn/brown-- we're looking for a golden color. Add in the 1 tablespoon sugar and continue to sauté until onions are lightly caramelized, another 3-5 minutes. We're adding layers of flavor, so don't rush this sautéing. Add in the other half of the spice mix and 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Stir for 2-3 minutes or until very fragrant. Reduce heat if the mixture begins to burn.
SAUCE CONT.: Add in the fire-roasted crushed tomatoes and saute for 1 minute. Add in the 1 and 1/4 cup heavy cream and add salt and pepper to taste (I add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). Stir, and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce has thickened and is fragrant.
ROLL MEATBALLS IN FLOUR: While sauce is simmering, work on the meatballs, starting by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Add the 1/3 cup flour to a bowl and set aside. Here's my process for meatballs: Line a large plate or sheet pan with parchment paper. Lightly spritz a 1-tablespoon measuring spoon with nonstick cooking spray and then use that to portion out meatballs to the parchment paper-lined plate. Portion out all the meat onto the plate without rolling into balls. Once all the meat is portioned out, then roll each portion into a ball. Once all the balls have been rolled, give them all a quick roll in the flour. Tap off the excess flour and return the meatballs to the plate. By doing everything in a batch instead of one at a time, you'll find it goes so much quicker.
SEAR MEATBALLS: Heat 1/4 cup of the coconut oil to medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add in half of the meatballs. Sauté for 4 minutes, turning with tongs after 2 minutes, until the meatballs are browned on the outsides, but not cooked through. Discard the parchment paper and return the meatballs to the plate (without the parchment paper)
BAKE MEATBALLS: Repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding extra coconut oil if needed. Transfer meatballs to the plate and quickly rinse or wipe out the skillet. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Return the rest of the meatballs to the oven-safe skillet. Place the skillet in the oven and bake 7-15 minutes or until the meatballs are completely cooked through (160 degrees F). I check the meatballs with an oven thermometer at 5 minutes and then check every 3 minutes after that. It usually takes about 12 minutes in my oven.
FINISHING SAUCE: Meanwhile, transfer the simmered and thickened sauce to a blender. Blend until completely smooth and return to skillet. if desired, stir in some chopped cilantro here (I add about 1/3 cup). Once meatballs are cooked through, add them into the sauce and stir to coat.
SERVE: Serve saucy meatballs over cooked basmati rice (See Note 2) and garnish with additional cilantro leaves (optional). Serve with toasted naan (See Note 3). Enjoy!