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Moroccan Meatballs (Kefta Tagine)

Moroccan Meatballs Everyone needs a go-to meatball recipe, and these Moroccan meatballs or kefta are mine! Warmly spiced meatballs simmer in a tomato-based sauce flavored with onion, garlic, ginger, and dates. 

plated kefta tagine

WHAT IS KEFTA TAGINE?

The term ‘tagine’ refers to a cooking vessel with a cone-like lid used in many cultures (particularly North Africa) to stew and braise ingredients ‘kefta,’ which translates to meatball in English. 

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

For the Meatballs:

  • Beef: I use lean ground beef but use what you have. Change things up by using ground lamb.
  • Spices: Season the Moroccan meatballs with ground green cardamon, coriander, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
  • Egg: Bind the meatballs together with an egg.
  • Oil: Used for frying, plus more oil to coat your hands while forming the meatballs.

For the Gravy:

  • Onion: I use yellow or vidalia onion because they add sweetness to the gravy.
  • Garlic: I suggest using three cloves, but don’t let my recipe tell you how much garlic to use – go for it.
  • Ginger: The gravy wouldn’t be the same without fresh ginger.
  • Tomato: Fresh tomatoes create the base for rich and flavorful gravy. I use Roma tomatoes because they have less moisture than other varieties, and I puree them beforehand using a blender or food processor because my husband and daughter aren’t fans of tomatoes. Another option is to dice the tomatoes and sweat them down over low heat; this results in a thicker gravy; however, this process may increase the cooking time.
  • Dates: Dates are my personal favorite, but raisins or Craisins are a good alternative.
  • Chicken Broth: Simmer the meatballs in gravy and chicken broth for juicy Moroccan meatballs every time.

HOW TO MAKE MOROCCAN MEATBALLS

Combine ground beef, cardamom, coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and egg in a mixing bowl; knead for 3 minutes.

egg and spices mixed with ground beef and broken up bread crumbs for for kefta tagine.

Roll the mixture into 1- 1½ inch meatballs and set them aside.

rolled the beef mixture into 1 inch meatballs

Warm a skillet over medium heat and add oil. Then, add the first layer of meatballs. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Rotate them often to get a nice sear on all sides. Set the partially cooked meatballs aside and repeat with the remaining ingredients.

fry the meat balls for kefta tagine.

In the same pan, cook the onions until they become translucent and soften.

onions cooking in oil for the kefta tagine gravy

Stir in the garlic and ginger, followed by the pureed tomatoes and dates. Simmer for 5 minutes.

add the tomato mixture to the kefta tagine gravy

Return the meatballs to the pan along with the chicken broth.

return the meatballs to the kefta gravy

Simmer over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley or mint and serve immediately.

add broth to the meatballs and kefta gravy and simmer until the gravy thickens

COOKING TIPS

  • For best results, refrigerate the rolled meatballs for 30 minutes before cooking them to ensure they remain intact.

SEARCHING FOR MORE LIKE THIS? 

If you love this recipe, try one of our other African-inspired meals!  

Moroccan meatballs are ready to serve with couscous or bulgar.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Are the meatballs spicy?

They are not spicy, but they do have a ton of flavor! The North African spice blend we use combines warming spices like crushed green cardamom, coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, and cinnamon to season the meatballs.

How do you make Moroccan lamb meatballs?

Follow the recipe as is, but use ground lamb instead of beef; everything else stays the same!

Can I bake the meatballs instead?

Preheat the oven to 350° F (176° C), then line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Line the meatballs onto it and bake them for 15-20 minutes.

YOU SHOULD ALSO TRY:

Moroccan meatballs are ready to serve in a serving bowl.

Moroccan Meatballs (Kefta Tagine)

Tressa Jamil
Moroccan meatballs or kefta combine warmly spiced meatballs simmered in a tomato-based sauce flavored with onion, garlic, ginger, and dates.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 20 Meatballs
Calories 108 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon green cardamom, green shell removed, and ground
  • 1 tablespoon coriander, ground
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
  • teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, coarse ground
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup olive oil

For the Sauce:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, pureed
  • 4 dates, seed removed, and diced
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • parsley, chopped, to garnish
  • mint, chopped, to garnish

Instructions
 

  • Combine ground beef, cardamom, coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and egg in a mixing bowl; knead for 3 minutes.
  • Roll the mixture into 1- 1½ inch meatballs and set them aside.
  • Warm a skillet over medium heat and add oil. Then, add the first layer of meatballs- careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook the meatballs for 3-5 minutes. Rotate them often to get a nice sear on all sides. Set the partially cooked meatballs aside and repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  • In the same pan, cook the onions until they become translucent and soften.
  • Stir in the garlic and ginger, followed by the pureed tomatoes and dates. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Return the meatballs to the pan along with the chicken broth.
  • Simmer over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley or mint and serve immediately.

Notes

Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 MeatballCalories: 108kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 5gFat: 8gSodium: 135mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4g
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
Recipe Rating




Kathi

Thursday 9th of June 2022

Can not wait to make this recipe. 12 tomatoes adapted it for the slow cooker, so I will take your recipe and make it in the slow cooker. Love that you pureed the Roma tomatoes -it will make the gravy so much smoother. I will be doing the same. But, I will grate the onion into the ground beef as my family are not fans of onion chunks. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. It's so much better than the one 12 tomatoes posted.

Tressa Jamil

Thursday 9th of June 2022

Hey Kathy, I cannot wait to hear back from you once you’ve made it! I do have a suggestion for you regarding the onions. I often do this when preparing Indian curries, but you can actually cook down the onions and tomatoes as is and then use an immersion blender or food processor to smooth it out just before you return the meatballs to the mixture; that way you don’t have to take the extra step of grating the onion. It’s completely up to you though. Again, I can’t wait to hear what you and your family think of the meal.