TAGINE KEFRTA MKAWRA (Moroccan meatball tagine with eggs, for six)

 Meatballs, tagine kefrta mkawra (Moroccan meatball tagine with eggs) 2 (2)  Meatballs, tagine kefrta mkawra (Moroccan meatball tagine with eggs) 2

“In America, meatballs have a low prestige rating, perhaps because they invoke the spaghetti and meatballs of the poor Sicilian immigrants when they first arrived.  It is the Arabs who brought meatballs to Sicily, and in the Arab world meatballs are highly regarded and considered refined and sophisticated.  This is partly because they require labor.  In the old days, the meat was chopped by hand, or put through a grinder two or three times, then pounded with a pestle and mortar until it was a smooth, soft paste.  Nowadays, those who have one use a food processor.”   Claudia Roden, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

For the meatballs:

1-½ pounds ground lamb or beef

1 onion, very finely chopped

3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

salt and pepper

pinch of ground chili pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

vegetable oil for frying

For the tomato sauce:

2 onions, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1-½ pounds tomatoes, peeled and chopped (if tomatoes are out of season, substitute two large cans chopped tomatoes)

1 to 2 teaspoons sugar


1 small chili pepper, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

6 eggs


  1. Make the meatballs. Mix all the ingredients together except the oil and knead into a soft paste.  Roll into marble-sized balls (about 1 inch in diameter) and fry them very briefly (about 2 minutes) in batches in shallow oil (not more than ¼ inch deep), shaking the pan (or stirring with a slotted spoon) to color them all over.  Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  1. Make the sauce. In a large shallow pan that you can bring to the table, prepare the sauce.  Fry the onions in the oil until soft.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, sugar, salt and chili pepper if you like, and simmer for 20 minutes, until reduced.  Add parsley, cilantro and the meatballs and cook 5 minutes.
  1. Cook the eggs. Just before serving, break the eggs carefully over the sauce, leaving them whole, and cook, covered,  until the whites have set (5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of your pan.  Check frequently, and as soon as the eggs turn a solid white, they‘re ready).


from Claudia Roden, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

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