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.
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
- 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
- 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.)
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.