Moroccan Meatballs

Morrocan Meatballs Reci

To my mind there are two characteristics most dishes of Moroccan descent ought to possess; vibrancy and a slight sweetness. You will, of course, be glad to hear that these Moroccan meatballs enjoy both qualities and are exceedingly frugal. Then again, as this blog should have taught you, rustic, hearty food often holds the latter trait. Remember, even good quality, well-sourced minced beef can be had at a reasonable price.

Over the past couple of years I’ve had a number of people offer me instruction in how best to make meatballs. Some are quite sure that an egg is necessary, though a visible proportion say otherwise, and similar pointers have been received concerning the inclusion of bread – a few have even had the audacity to claim that neither benefit the process. However, in my experience, both have proved themselves indispensable and without their mutual presence all one is likely to create is a somewhat stiff and unpleasant ball of meat. Follow this recipe if you wish to avoid such a thing.

Morrocan Meatballs Reci

Whether you use lamb or beef in this recipe is purely at your own discretion. Good quality beef mince is less fatty and cheaper than lamb mince and a little easier to come by. However, if you have the means and the inclination, lamb is probably the more authentic and distinctive choice. Personally, I prefer lamb that isn’t minced – if you’re of a similar persuasion, can I suggested that you use lamb neck. If you need advice on quite how to prepare such a cut please see my recipe for Welsh cawl. The advantage of using a cut like lamb neck is that bone and cartilage do a great job of thickening and enriching a casserole giving it that extra edge. by the way, don’t forget to use Welsh lamb, it’s tops!

Moroccan Meatballs {recipe}

Serves 4

Ingredients:

• 300g beef mince

• 3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs

• 1 egg

• 40g breadcrumbs

• Salt, a pinch of

• Pepper, a pinch of

• 2 tsp cumin seed

• ½ tsp ground cinnamon

• 3-4 tbsp olive oil

• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed

• 1-2 chillies, finely chopped

• 1 onion, finely chopped

• 1 stick of celery, finely chopped

• 3 bay leaves

• 1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped

• 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

• 2x400g tins of peeled plum tomatoes

• 1 tbsp tomato purée

• A large handful of raisins

• 200g chickpeas

• 1 tbsp honey

Method:

1. To make the meatballs pop the meat, herbs of your choosing, egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning in a large bowl and work thoroughly with both hands. Roll the mixture into 12-14 evenly sized meatballs and place on a floured plate in the fridge. They can be made a few hours in advance or even the night before.

2. Toast the cumin seeds gently in a pan until they release their aroma. Transfer them to a pestle and mortar and grind them roughly. Put 3 tbsp of olive oil in a pan and begin to fry the cumin together with the cinnamon. Immediately add the celery and onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and chilli, before tipping in the bay leaves and peppers. Add the tomatoes and purée and cook for an hour over a gentle heat.

3. Turn the oven to 160C. Add the raisins, chickpeas and honey to the sauce and set aside. Fry the meatballs in a drizzle of olive oil until browned. Transfer the sauce to a large earthen casserole and place the meatballs evenly into the mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve with rice or cous cous.

Cost: There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but with a little care they can be sourced without too much expense. All in all, this delicious and thoroughly filling meal should set one back around £4.80. Whilst this is a little more expensive than my usual offerings, it remains exceedingly reasonable for what it is.

126 thoughts on “Moroccan Meatballs

  1. Patch

    Sounds delish. Meatballs are a favourite here with the boys but I am attracted by the morrocan-ness of the recipe. Might give it a go next time we have meatballs ;)

  2. scarletrosita

    My Mamma makes great meatballs, she is Southern Italian and I think there is a strong north african influence in many of the foods she cooks. Great meatballs are manna from heaven, but boy there are some terrible one around (I live in England and sometimes we are cursed with appalling food) These look magic, have a look at my Imam Biyaldi recipe, I’d love to know what you think :)

  3. baconbiscuit212

    Looks fantastic, Nick! I think that the most interesting suggestion that I have ever heard for meatballs was to have a child help you make them in the kitchen. The reasoning was that children’s hands are just meatball-sized, and they don’t pack the meat as tightly as adults.

    As I don’t have a child tucked away for meatball-making, I’ll be using eggs and bread crumbs :-)

  4. egg me on

    Yes, there are many, many ways to make meatballs. I’m very glad yours include egg and breadcrumbs, two essential ingredients for a moist balls. These look exciting and exotic.

  5. mawarre

    That just looks absolutely delicious. We will be eating that tonight with some cous cous and greek yoghurt. I thnk I might need to make a double recipe for my hungry horde of teenaged boys, but still very very economical. Love it

  6. narf77

    Whether you decide to eat the meatballs or not this sauce is amazing! At only 300g of mince it is an incredibly frugal meal and will soon be a go-to recipe for lots of harried people out there when the kids have had enough of regular plain old meatballs. That sauce elevates “meatballs” from the norm to something special…frugal AND a special event dish… NOW you are talking! Cheers for another dressed up frugal feast in the making :)

      1. narf77

        I think that you could make falafels or some other sort of split pea rissoley thing to put into this sauce for a spectacular vegan version and you could thicken the sauce a little with some tahini. Might have to try that now! :)

  7. pixi

    I have my own version of this. Inspired by a kofte tagine I had in Chefchaouen that had a handful of fresh herbs strewn across the top and an egg poached in the middle. That was a very frugal 45 dirhams (or 3.35 of your english pounds) including a basket of bread. Your pricing works out pretty similar :) I shall have to post about that soon I think.

  8. sarahpantcheff

    This looks delicious – I have to confess to a horror of raisins in savoury food, but I like the idea of substituting dates. I can’t tell you why dates are acceptable to me and raisins are not…!

  9. whilehewasout

    Oh my mum would (also) love these! She was complaining the other day that there are no Moroccan restaurants around here… maybe I should makes these for her?! Thanks for the recipe, truly great pictures!!

  10. Jodye @ Chocolate and Chou Fleur

    Do you mind if I use chickpeas instead of the lamb or beef? I bet chickpeas stewed in this sauce would be so wonderful, and great served over the abundance of quinoa that I can’t seem to stop eating lately. This is such a beautiful and colorful dish. Hard to resist!

  11. Pheebz

    Oooh these sound delicious. And since I don’t have an oven, I have to convince my friend to let me cook in her kitchen and therefore we’ll split the price of the ingredients. The plan is on!

  12. Conor Bofin

    Fantastic looking dish. I am with you on the bread and egg. I have to allow some local pride sway me away from Welsh lamb (good and all as it is). For me, it has to be Wicklow, preferably “trespass lamb” from my Wicklow Hunter friend.
    Best,
    Conor

  13. A House and A Garden

    Ah, yes. Wonderful idea. Meatballs are a universal favourite, and I’ve been craving something hot and sweet and spicy lately… Must be the January weather here in Wales. This could be something for an upcoming housewarming party. Oh, you got me thinking now.. Thank you again!

  14. ohlidia

    I tried this yummy dish last night. It was delicious!! I happened to be doing homework with my youngest daughter. So as I`m reading out her spelling words, reading your recipe and answering my older daughter`s homework questions, I inadvertently mucked up the recipe just a tad. I added the cumin and cinnamon to the meat mixture and then moved on to the part where it says to add these spices to the hot oil! Which I did…anyway, all this to say it really was delicious and I will be posting your recipe on my blog.

  15. Pingback: Frugal Feeding with Moroccan Meatballs « ohlidia

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  17. Deborah

    I made these for my family Sunday night. They were amazing! The leftovers were even better (I may make them a day ahead next time – somehow the extra 24 hours allowed everything to meld even more). I added minced fresh mint and parsley to the meat and also served crumbled feta on the side for a topping.

  18. Georgina

    This is gorgeous! I wasn’t sure what herbs to add to the meatballs so I added a tsp of Baharat instead which was lovely but could have done with a bit more in it. I also used ground coriander instead of the seeds. Next time I’ll add some more chili as well, as I only added 1 green chili.

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