Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lamb Kefta Tagine with Tomatoes and Couscous

I meant to make this last week but ran out of time and stuck the lamb back in the freezer. A friend came to visit this weekend from afar - 17 hour plane ride. We had a lot of catching up to do and I didn't want to be fussing around. I don't multi-task all that well: I can cook a lot or I can talk a lot but I can't do both and I wanted to do the latter but have a good meal. I made this in about an hour, headed down to the airport and when we got back, reheated it, made the couscous, heated up some pita bread in the oven, made a simple salad of greens and vinaigrette and dinner was ready in about 20 minutes.

This is a dinner that you can cook in parts - sauce first - and store it before making the meatballs. It was eaten fast enough that I didn't have any left over to freeze, but I'm guessing it would store very well.

The only part that requires about 20 minutes of continuous effort is making the meatballs. The original recipe specified that the meatballs be the size of large cherries. I made mine about 1" in diameter and added an egg - also not called-for in the original recipe. I used a small ice cream scoop to portion the meatballs. This recipe is a definite keeper and when tomatoes aren't in season, canned will do just fine.


Adapted from: About: Moroccan Food
Serves 4

Equipment: I used a 10" skillet with a domed lid. After I added the lamb meatballs, I brought the dish to a simmer and then cooked it in the oven for the remainder. Instead of blanching, peeling and seeding the tomatoes, I put them through a food mill using the disk with the largest holes. I also used a small scoop to portion the meatballs.

Ingredients (Sauce):
  • 1-2 tablespoons grape seed oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 1 medium onion, small dice 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed and minced fine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika (sweet paprika would be fine, too)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 lbs fresh, ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Ingredients (Meatballs):
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4teaspoon hot paprika or 1/4 teaspoon ground hot pepper, or a large pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Pre-heat the oven to 350F - rack in the middle


  • Chop the tomatoes roughly and put through a food mill, using the disk with the largest holes. Set aside. Alternatively peel, seed and chop the tomatoes.
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of grape seed oil in a pre-heated pan about 10" in diameter. Add the onions and cook on medium without coloring the onions until they are soft. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the smoked (or sweet) paprika, cumin, salt and red pepper flake. Cook for a minute.
  • Add the milled tomatoes to the pan and combine with the onion, garlic and spice mixture. Bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low - just enough to making the simmer but not scorch the mixture. Allow the tomatoes to cook for 15-20 minutes. Add the cilantro and parsley and stir to combine. Take the pan off the heat until you're ready to add the meatballs.
  • Combine all the kefta (meatball) ingredients. Use your hands to thoroughly combine all of the ingredients. Using your hands, make meatballs, about 1" in diameter. 
  • While you're shaping the meatballs, bring the tomato sauce to a simmer. Add a little water if the tomato sauce is looking too thick - start with 1/4 cup. Add the meatballs to the pan, leaving them partially submerged. Cover the pan and bring it to a simmer. Place the pan in the oven with the lid just slightly ajar. Cook for 25 to 35 minutes, checking half-way. Serve over couscous.

Serves 4

  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups couscous
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro - leaves and tender stems, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Bring the water to a boil, stir in the salt and the couscous. Cover the pan and remove from the heat. Steam for 5-10 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the couscous. Stir-in the cilantro, parsley and pine nuts.

1 comment:

dashcat said...

The meatballs were fabulous. The couscous was perfect. I want this again.