Moroccan Beef Meatball Tagine

moroccan meatballsIf you are a Cilantro lover, you are going to love this dish.  I happen to be a huge fan of Cilantro but I know many people who absolutely hate it, so if that is you, I apologize.  I promise to bring you a Cilantro free recipe next time around.

It comes from the latest edition of Bon Appetit magazine (one of my favorites) and is a part of their 5 Amazing Meatball recipe spread.  I chose it because it was the furthest thing from all of the Christmas fare we’d been dining (and re-dining on lately.)  A tagine or tajine is a type of slow cooked stew found in North African cooking.  It is named after the special cookware used for these dishes.  You can see an example of a Tagine here.  Don’t worry, you do not need a tagine to make this meal.  A good old fashioned oven safe dutch oven works just fine.

Although this recipe calls for beef meatballs,  I really think it would be great, maybe even better, with ground turkey.  So, feel free to lighten it up if you so desire.



1 1/2 pounds group beef (20% fat)

1/3 cup coarsely grated onion

1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 large egg, beaten to blend

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon Turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


1 Tablespoon olive oil

3 1/2 cups chopped onions

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

2 cups beef broth

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

1/4 cup golden raisins

2 cups 1/2 inch thick carrot slices (cut on diagonal)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for garnish

1 5 ounce package baby spinach leaves

Couscous with Fresh Cilantro and Lemon Juice (recipe below)

DIRECTIONS meatballs

Meatballs:  Line large rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap.  Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl.  Using moistened hands and scant 2 tablespoonsfuls for each, roll meat mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on sheet.


Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium heat.  Add onions; saute about 15 minutes.  Add garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and saffron; stir 2 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes with juice, and raisins.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bring stew to simmer.  Stir in carrots.  stewCarefully add meatballs to stew; gently press into liquid to submerge.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup cilantro over. Cover pot; place in oven. Bake until meatballs are cooked through and carrots are tender, about 35 minutes.  Sprinkle spinach over stew.  Cover and bake until spinach wilts, about 5 minutes longer.  Gently stir to mix in spinach, being careful not to break meatballs. Remove cinnamon sticks.  Season tagine with salt and pepper.

Spoon couscous into bowls; top with tagine. garnish with cilantro and lemons.

Couscous with Fresh Cilantro and Lemon Juice


2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon Turmeric

1 2/3 cups water

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1 1/2 cups plain couscous

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and turmeric; stir 1 minute.  Add 1 2/3 cups water, lemon peel, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt; bring to boil. Remove pan from heat.  Stir in couscous.  Cover; let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork; mix in cilantro and lemon juice.  Season with pepper and additional coarse salt if desired.