Kefta Mkaouara – Moroccan Meatball Tagine
In honor of Morocco’s historic performance in this year’s world cup, I present you with a recipe for kefta mkaouara, a Moroccan meatball tagine. If you like shakshuka, prepare to be absolutely blown away by this dish. The base is very similar, a tomato-based sauce full of vegetables, herbs, and spices, but here those flavors are taken to another level with the addition of marble-sized lamb meatballs.
This recipe is truly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made. I rarely serve a meal that doesn’t receive a good deal of praise, but this was in a world of its own. Everyone cleaned their plate and went back for seconds with a certain glint in their eye. Needless to say, there weren’t a lot of leftovers.
Perfect at any time of day, this dish can be prepared in the same manner as shakshuka, with eggs poached in the sauce, but it is equally delicious on its own. Traditionally, this would be eaten scooped up with flatbread, but it is also wonderful served over couscous. Being a glutton for grains, I like to have both.
Congratulations to Morocco on being the first African nation to make it to the World Cup final four. I can’t say that I was rooting for them against Les Bleus (as an American soccer fan of French descent, I’ve been supporting Les Bleus all my life), but I will definitely root for them in the third-place match. And I’ll forever thank them for the excuse to develop this recipe, which will henceforth have a place near the top of our regular rotation.
1 lb. ground lamb
1 cup yellow onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 red/orange/yellow bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. crushed tomato (one large can)
1 cup water
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped cilantro
6 eggs (optional)
Salt, to taste
Make the meatballs first. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead together until uniform. Wet your hands and roll them into marble-sized balls. Set these aside for now.
Next, make the sauce. Char the diced bell peppers, garlic, and onions with a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When they are lightly charred at the edges, reduce the heat to medium and add the crushed tomato, spices, herbs, and 1 cup water. Stir together and scrape the bottom. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Once the sauce is looking nice, add the meatballs to the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Add water as needed to keep the sauce at a medium-thick consistency. Adjust the seasoning of the sauce with additional salt and spices, if desired.
If you are choosing to add eggs, make wells for them in the sauce and add them. Cover the pan and allow the eggs to steam for a few minutes. When they are white on top, they should be perfect–cooked through, but still soft with beautifully runny yolks.
Serve with flatbread, couscous, or just some nice toast.