Taking on the Tagine

The whole point of having a tagine is to do tagine-y dishes. Being a novice to this form of cookery, I didn’t want to invest in a full blown tagine cookbook (you know, that whole $12 would totally break the bank). So, I relied on the old Google to help me out. Um, a lot of tagine recipes don’t actually require a tagine. That’s a bummer because I have this awesome tagine AND a diffuser to cook on.

Tagine on the Stove

The diffuser is pretty difficult to see, but it's there protecting the tagine from the mean old gas burner.

I must admit that I kind of love tagine cooking. Put everything in a tepee pot and call it a simmering night. I found what seemed like a doable and somewhat tasty introductory recipe on about.com. (I’ve updated the presentation of this recipe as I found it a bit difficult to follow whilst making.)

Moroccan Kefta Tagine Recipe – Kefta Mkaouara (Mkawra) with Tomato and Eggs

Tomato Sauce

  • 2 lbs fresh, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 1½ t paprika
  • 1½ t cumin
  • 1½ t salt
  • ½ hot paprika or ¼ t ground hot pepper (I used crushed red peppers.)
  • 3 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 T fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • ⅓ C olive oil

Kefta Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef or lamb (or a combo of the two… I definitely recommend the combo.)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped very fine
  • 2 t paprika
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t ground cinnamon (optional)
  • ¼ t pepper
  • ¼ t hot paprika (or ⅛ t ground hot pepper)
  • ¼ C fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ C fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 or 4 eggs (the recipe calls these optional… I call them mandatory.)

Start out by making the tomato sauce. Peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes. Mix the tomatoes, onions, and the rest of the sauce ingredients in the base of a tagine. Cover, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Note: If using a tagine, place a diffuser between the tagine and burner, and allow 10 to 15 minutes for the tomato sauce to reach a simmer.

Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low, just enough heat to maintain the simmer but low enough to avoid scorching. Allow the tomatoes to cook for at least 15-20 minutes before adding the meatballs.

Now, we’re going to make meatballs. Combine all of the kefta ingredients, using your hands to knead in the spices and herbs. Shape the kefta mixture into very small meatballs the size of large cherries—about ¾-inch in diameter. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce, along with a little water—¼ cup is usually sufficient—and cover. (I added the water and it was way too soupy.) Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the sauce is thick.

Break the eggs over the top of the meatballs, and cover. Cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are solid and the yolks are partially set. Serve immediately.

Kefta Mkaouara is traditionally served from the same dish in which it was prepared, with each person using crusty Moroccan bread for scooping up the meatballs from his own side of the dish. (I didn’t have any crusty bread on hand, so I served it over rice.)


Kefta and Eggs in a Tagine

OK, this looks a bit like floaty meat bits sitting in meaty oil. And, that’s pretty much what it is… except really good. As you can see, I probably didn’t need to add that extra liquid. And, I could have probably let this simmer for a tad longer (but I got a late start and I was pretty starved by the time it got near enough to eat.)

Also, I took this picture before the eggs had firmed up, hence their gooiness. Overall, it was really good. I was leery about adding the cinnamon, but it adds the whole Moroccan flavor to the dish. It doesn’t matter, I’m a convert.


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  1. #1 by Bam's Kitchen on 3.21.2012 - 9:41 am

    Such a beautiful Tangine.

  2. #2 by sportsglutton on 3.21.2012 - 10:32 am

    Just connected to your site via Dashboard.

    My wife and I enjoy cooking with our tagine as well…something good always come out. Your Moroccan Kefta meatball sounds delish! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    If you have a moment check out my blog which is a fusion of sports, food recipes, libations and more. http://sports-glutton.com/


  3. #3 by Yoyoslc on 1.27.2013 - 11:04 pm

    After you use this tagine for a year, is there any crack on your tagine? I have the same tagine, but it got cracked today without a diffuser. I have seasoned mine before I used it.

    • #4 by e.marie on 1.28.2013 - 9:45 am

      i have not yet had it crack… (but i don’t use it as much as i’d like)… i use the diffuser and only use it on my simmer back burner on very low… so, we’ll see….

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