I first made this recipe before we went to Morocco, but when we were there we had something that tasted very similar! Though the meatballs were smaller, and they had a poached egg in the middle – which could be a great idea for leftover breakfast meal.
Meatballs show up in many different cuisines around the world. Anyone who has been to Ikea know about Swedish meatballs. The Greeks have had keftedes since the 1300s, the Chinese had meatballs since the Sui Dynasty (589-618 AD) and the Turkish have had the kofte since time 2000 BC – so they are often credited with the origin.
Meatballs are generally so simple to make and this recipe is something a bit different from the Italian-style beef meatballs I make a lot. The spices in the meat and the harissa paste is what sets them apart and makes them Moroccan.
500g lamb mince
1 red onion
2 gloves garlic
1 tspn ground coriander
1.5 tspn of ground cumin
1 tspn paprika
Zest of one lemon
A handful of fresh mint
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp coconut oil to fry
Ingredients – Sauce
1/2 can diced or pureed tomatoes
3 heaped tbsp Harissa sauce (either store bought or home-made)
Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 180ºC.
Place the lamb mince into a large mixing bowl. With a sharp knife, very finely dice the red onion and garlic and add to the bowl, along with all the spices, salt and pepper, and lemon zest. Grab a handful of mint and separate the leaves from the stalks. Roughly chop the leaves and add to the mince and other ingredients. With clean hands, mix the contents of the bowl together thoroughly.
Roll the mince into evenly sized balls – I usually make them golf-ball size. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and add the meatballs to the hot pan. Allow to brown nicely, which helps to hold the meatball together, then rotate all the meatballs so they’re nicely browned on a couple of sides.
Carefully take the meatballs out of the pan and place into an oven proof dish – leaving all the juices in the pan. To the juices, add the tomatoes and Harissa sauce and stir to mix – if it’s too thick, add a splash of water. Season well with salt and pepper to bring out the flavours. Bring to a simmer.
Here you have two options – bake the meatballs on their own and serve on top of the sauce. Or, pour the sauce over top of the meatballs and then bake.
Either way, they need to bake in the oven for 25 minutes, so the meatballs are cooked all the way through. Serve while hot, with a side salad, and quinoa or couscous.