The tagine is one of the most popular dishes of Moroccan cuisine. Easy to prepare with a mix of sweet and sour flavours, you can prepare it in many different ways either with meat, fish, vegetables, fresh fruits, dry fruits, nuts… This lemon meatball tagine, or kefta tagine, is one of the classics that I make on a regular base at home.
A few months ago I went to visit my friend Hanane in Paris, and her auntie cooked for us a wonderful kefta tagine. I loved it because the meatballs were juicy and the sauce was flavoured with lemon and sweet oriental spices mix such as curcuma, coriander, ras-el-hanout… Back home I opened a book of Moroccan food I have and found a recipe of meatball tagine with lemon confit that inspired this recipe.
What is a tagine?
A tagine is originally the large and shallow pot used to cook in Morocco, easy to recognize with its typical pyramidal shape. The ingredients – meat, fish, vegetables and fruits, are steamed in the pot together and served very hot. As per I don’t have the traditional tagine pot at home (just a decorative one), I use a large and shallow pan with a thick bottom to spread the heat evenly inside and cover it carefully.
How to make a good meatball tagine?
One of the key ingredients to prepare a delicious Moroccan tagine is to use preserved lemon: you can make them yourself very easily, but you need to prepare them at least one month in advance. If you don’t have any, you can replace them by the juice and skin of an organic lemon.
You can serve the meatball tagine with French fries and a little tomato salad, perfect in summer, or with bread or semolina (couscous).
One more advantage of this meatball tagine is that it can be prepared in advance and re-heated, it is even better like that.
Moroccan meatball tagine with lemon, or Kefta tagine
- – 500g minced beef (or lamb according to your taste)
- – 1 onion
- – 1tsp cinamon
- – 1tsp grounded comino
- – 1tsp grounded coriander
- – 1tsp paprika
- – 1 hot pepper (optional)
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1tbsp butter
- 1 onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 cm fresh ginger
- 1 red chili
- 2tsp curcuma
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 lemon confit or 1 organic lemon
- French Fries
- Tomato salad
- Fresh coriander or mint
- Grate the onion and mix with the rest of the ingredients in a big bowl. Make sure all the ingredients are incorporated but don’t make the mixture too compact otherwise the meatballs would be spongy.
- Shape small meatballs with your hands, not too big so that they soak more sauce, place them on a plate and put them in the fridge while you prepare the sauce.
- Heat the olive oil and butter into the pan over medium heat.
- Chop the onion, the garlic and chili pepper, grate the fresh ginger and incorporate all those ingredients in the pan once the oil is hot. Let them cook slowly about 10 minutes until brown.
- In the meantime peel and grate the 2 tomatoes.
- Once the mixture in the pan is brown, *sprinkle the curcuma* and cook during a couple of minutes.
- Pour the tomato puree and 30cl of hot water in the pan and bring to boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer the sauce for 10 minutes.
- After this time, place the meatballs carefully into the pan, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Flip the meatball, add the pieces of confit lemon into the pan (or the juice and skin of an organic lemon), cover again and let simmer for 10 more minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the French fries and tomato salad, then serve together.
- Sprinkle the meatballs with fresh coriander or mint if you wish.