Tagine kefta mkaouara: meatballs & egg

Mmmmmmmmm meatballs. They appeal to me on a very primal level.

I first come across this tagine when travelling through Morrocco in 2001.  Meatballs, spicy tomato sauce and a soft yolked egg. It just doesn´t get any better than that does it? I´ve been meaning to make it since, and after 9 years of procrastination I am kicking myself. You see this recipe is a keeper, and an easypeasy one at that.

To start you make a sauce with onions, tomatoes and spices. This bubbles away while you busy yourself making the meatballs – plenty of herbs, more spices and ground meat. When these are ready you  brown them off before letting them braise themselves in the sauce, then a few minutes before serving pop your egg in and cook till done.

For those of you who cook regularly, my instructions may sound somewhat pedantic if not downright bossy. Well, the thing is, I am not writing for you but for Melissa. Melissa is many wonderful things, but she’s a bit of a novice in the kitchen, in fact she refers to herself as culinarily impaired.

Serves 4


  • olive oil
  • 2 large onions,  chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic,  roughly chopped
  • 1 inch root ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinammon
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton or paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 4 large tomatoes, or 6 smaller ones
  • generous pinch of saffron
  • salt
  • Firstly fry the onions -put them on a medium heat and cook till translucent, stirring only occasionally. While the onions are cooking, cut your tomatoes in half and grate the flesh on the larger side of your grater, making sure you catch all the juices and discarding the skins. When the onions are soft and translucent turn the heat up a little, and fry till golden brown, paying close attention to make sure they don’t burn. Add the garlic and ginger, fry another minute or two, then add the tomato puree and spices, cook for a further 2 minutes. Finally, add the tomatoes and saffron, season and allow to simmer gently while making the meatballs. At this point your sauce may look a little thick and some water may be called for, but remember that the sauce should cling to the meatballs so don’t add too much.


  • olive oil
  • 1 kg ground lamb
  • 1 large onion, or 2 small, finely chopped
  • 2 big fat cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 1 heaped teaspoon root ginger, finely grated (if you don’t use ginger often, keep it in the freezer -it slices and grates beautifully from frozen)
  • 1 teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoons pimenton or paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tightly packed cup mixed chopped herbs: parsley, coriander and mint
  • salt
  • Fry the onions till softened then add the garlic and ginger, fry for an other minute or so, add cumin, pimenton and cinnamon, fry for another minute. Mix the onion mixture into the minced meat, along with the breadcrumbs and herbs. Knead well and form into balls. I like mine to be a little on the small side and use about a tablespoon of meat for each.

    Brown the meatballs. To do this, heat a large frying pan, add a tablespoon of oil, allow it to get really hot and only then put in your meatballs. Don’t crowd them, give them plenty of space – you’ll probably have to do this in 4 batches.  Once they’re in the pan, don’t keep nudging them around with your wooden spoon. Just allow them to sit there, turn once, and when they’re golden brown pop into the sauce and cover.


    Allow to simmer slowly, either on your stove top  or  in the oven at 160-180 centigrade. This dish is quite forgiving, 20 minutes will do in a pinch.  But if you´re having people round for dinner put it in the oven at 160 centigrade  it will entertain itself quite happily for an hour or two (although you may need to add a little water, and a little more of the ground spices ).

    Either way, 5 minutes before serving you will need to add the eggs. Clear some spaces between the meatballs, and carefully crack an egg into each. One for each guest, two for the greedy ones (yes that´s me). Return to the simmer and keep a close eye on them, 4-5 minutes should do.

    One Response to “Tagine kefta mkaouara: meatballs & egg”
    1. masked food lover says:

      I tried them just after this post was made, and liked the recipe. BUT it just made them again, and honestly, i didn’t remember it was that good !!! HUMMMMMM

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