Doesn’t it seem like most international cuisines have some version of a meatball? Personally, I love meatballs. Spaghetti and meatballs, Swedish meatballs, Korean Gochujang meatballs, they are all so yummy! Plus, so many meatball recipes are great make ahead options, freeze well, and can work in soups, appetizers or as a main course.
Interestingly, despite my love for meatballs, it was only recently that I tried making a Kefta Tagine, aka Moroccan meatballs. Before developing my own recipe, I set out for some taste testing and tried several versions of Kefta Tagine at a few local restaurants in Rabat (it’s hard to force a friend to invite you to dinner, demand that they make a certain dish, and then interrogate them for their recipes tips.) Based on my research, here’s what I found. Kefta Tagine is almost always served in a tomato based sauced and is spiced prominently with ginger and cumin (ok, it’s always served this way, but my former lawyer brain prevents me from writing in absolutes). Here’s the other brilliant addition to this dish– it’s served with poached eggs on top! This dish is a dream for anyone on the protein power plan. (Ahem, not me, I love my carbs.)
With my taste testing done, I did a few internet searches for recipe inspiration and then had a go at making my own. This recipe is adapted from Saveur. I omitted the olives because not a single one of the kefta tagines I had in Rabat included olives. I also added extra ginger to my version, which brightens the meatballs and gives them an extra little kick. Unlike many meatball recipes, these do not require browning, which makes them a little less fussy than other meatballs. I also prefer making these meatballs on the small side, so they can be enjoyed with the sauce and creamy egg yolks. I made the batch of meatballs with about two pounds of ground beef (rather than just the 1 pound below) and cooked half of the meatballs in this kefta tagine recipe and froze the other half, which I used later for a meatball soup.
What is your favorite meatball recipe?
- 1 pound lean ground beef (or lamb)
- 1 ½ tablespoons cumin, divided
- 1 ½ tablespoons paprika, divided
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- 1½ tablespoons freshly grated ginger, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion (red or yellow), grated or minced, preferably grated
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon saffron
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 15-oz. cans of whole, peeled tomatoes
- 5-6 eggs
- ½ cup freshly chopped parsley
- In a large bowl, mix together the ground meat, 1 egg, ½ tablespoon cumin, ½ tablespoon paprika, dried parsley, 2 tablespoon minced or grated onion, ½ teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Form into small meatballs, about the size of a tablespoon, then set aside in the refrigerator.
- Place the canned tomatoes with all of their juices in a medium bowl. Gently crush the tomatoes with your hands, set aside.
- In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the remaining onions, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the red pepper flakes, remaining tablespoon of cumin and paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper and cook for another minute.
- Add the crushed tomatoes with all of their juices and bring to a low boil.
- Add the 2 bay leaves and carefully place the meatballs into the sauce.
- Bring the sauce back up to a low boil, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer the meatballs partially covered for 10 minutes, then turn the meatballs and simmer for another 5-6 minutes, until all of then meatballs are cooked through.
- Crack the remaining eggs on top, cover and simmer for another 5-6 minutes. Uncover, and serve immediately with some fresh bread.