In a large dutch oven, saute the onions with olive oil on medium heat for about 10 minutes until lightly browned.
Add salt, pepper, turmeric, mint and bay leaves and saute for 2 additional minutes.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste and water. Cover and bring to a gentle boil before reducing the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Combine all the ingredients for the meat balls with the exception of the oil. Gently knead to mix and combine the spices into the meatballs. Meatballs should not be dry and crumbly. If so, add 1-2 tablespoons of water to adjust the texture.
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and begin sauteing the meatballs, rotating them a few times.
Saute the meatballs for 10 minutes to bring out the flavor and color. Meatballs should become colorful, aromatic and visibly sauteed (but not fully cooked).
Add the sauteed meatballs to the sauce, cover and cook over low heat for 45-50 minutes.
Garnish the stew with fresh mint and serve over steamed basmati rice.