Some friends of mine went to Morocco many years ago and raved about the food. They actually convinced me to buy a tagine and try a few dishes for myself. I loved the flavors and the way in which the tagine cooks and keeps whatever you’re cooking moist and tender.

But, that was a while ago and I hadn’t used my tagine in years. So, I brought it out again to enjoy some of those great flavors I enjoyed. This dish, Kefta Mkaoura, is really flavorful and actually easy to put together. It’s made with beef, but you can substitute lamb if you like. If you don’t have a tagine, you can certainly use a dutch oven. If, like me, you have a tagine but you haven’t used it in a while, you should season it again. The process is pretty easy, as explained in the video, but it will take a day to do it correctly.

The more complete version of this dish includes poached eggs and olives. I didn’t include that in my version but definitely experiment when you make it!

Moroccan Beef Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
“Kefta Mkaoura” , serves 4-6

Ingredients

Meatballs

1 lb Ground Beef
1 sm White Onion, finely chopped
3 tbl Fresh Parsley, chopped
3 tbl Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Paprika
1 1/2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Tomato Sauce

2 lb Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 cu Olive Oil
1 med Onion, finely chopped
1 Green Pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp Paprika
1 1/2 tsp Cumin
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Serrano Pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Bay Leaf
2 tbl Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
2 tbl Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped

Garnish
2 tbl Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped

Optional (detailed below)
– 4 Eggs
– Green Olives

Method

In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients. From them into small meatballs, about 1 tablespoon each, and set aside.

Place your tagine on a heat source. I use a diffuser so the heat isn’t directly touching it. Bring it to a medium high heat and add olive oil. Stir to spread the olive oil and add onions. Sauté for 4 minutes and add green peppers. Sauté for an additional 2 minutes and add garlic. Sauté for an additional minute and add tomatoes and remaining sauce ingredients. Stir to combine and put the top on the tagine and cook for 25 minutes. Check your sauce. If it’s a bit dry, add 1/2 cup of warm water (do not add cold water…it might crack your tagine). Stir to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

If you like the consistency of your sauce, you can go to the next step. If you want a smoother sauce, break the tomatoes down with the back of a wooden spoon or use an immersion blender to smooth it out further.

Add the meatballs to the sauce and gently spread them around so that all are on one level and submerged in the sauce. Place the top back on the tagine and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

The dish is ready to serve at this point with a little cilantro sprinkled on top for color. But, you can also stir in a handful of green olives that have been pitted and gently crack 4 eggs on top of the mixture and cover until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are just beginning to set, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.