Add onions, garlic, cilantro stems, almonds, lime juice, and all spices to a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are well combined and a paste forms.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add a generous 1/3 cup of the masala paste with a drizzle of olive oil. Toast the spices over medium heat stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and bring to a boil stirring frequently until thickened and the tomato mixture darkens to a deep orangey red. About 10 minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk and reduce heat. Simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes or until thick and creamy.
Preheat the oven to 400.
In a small skillet over medium heat saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant. Set aside.
Break up the tempeh with your hands. Pulse in a food processor until tempeh is broken down into small crumbs. Add the onions, garlic, eggplant, egg, and spices. Mix on low until well combined. Working in small batches, slowly add the 1/2 cup bread crumbs to the mixture. Check the consistency of the mixture as you go. You want it to be dry enough to hold its shape when rolled into a ball, but not so dry that it crumbles and falls apart.
Place reserved breadcrumbs on a plate. Use your hands to shape "meatballs" to be a little smaller than a golf ball, then roll through the bread crumbs to coat. Place finished meatballs on a well greased baking sheet.
Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Once or twice during cooking, remove from oven and rotate the "meatballs" to ensure that they cook evenly.
Serve with basmati rice topped with the masala sauce and a drizzle of olive oil. Garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!
To save time and sanity I use Woodstock Farms Organic Grilled Eggplant which can be found at your local Whole Foods! If you do not have access to that, or are feeling extra ambitious you can buy fresh eggplant and either grill it, or achieve a similar effect using a grill pan on your stove top or the broiler in your oven. If you opt to use the broiler, keep a close eye on the eggplant! Under the broiler it can go from nicely browned to burned black right quick.
The leftover masala paste will keep in the fridge for about a week, or in the freezer for 2-3 months!
This "meatball recipe" can be adapted to be used in any situation where meatballs are appropriate! For example, if you wanted to make these for a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, you would simply replace the cilantro with parsley, and the cumin and chili powder with basil and oregano.