Kefta mkaoura is found just about everywhere in Morocco. Known by many as Moroccan meatballs, It’s a staple tagine and the fragrance wafts from rooftops across Marrakesh.
It’s served bubbling with a film of tasty oils rising to the top, lava hot cinnamon-fringed tomato sauce bathing just-poached eggs and spiced meatballs ranging in size from a small cherry up to a golf ball.
I ate this frequently throughout my time spent in Marrakesh – watching intently as the sizzling hot tagines were pieced together. Knowing that next time I had my own kitchen, this would be one of my first recipes to craft.
I worked on this recipe during the covid-19 lockdown, while following a low fodmap elimination diet – which made this recipe a particular challenge!
Served with soft, fresh Khobz (Moroccan bread) for dunking – think bold, tart, tomatoes rounded off with wafts of spices and a meaty bite to finish.
A quick Q&A :
A note about fodmaps in this recipe:
Don’t know what a low fodmap diet is? You can read up about it here
Garlic & Onions: Aren’t allowed through the elimination phase, so I left them out of this recipe. Instead, I used chives & garlic oil to create a similar flavour profile. If you’re not sensitive to fructans, or on some crazy diet like I am, feel free to sub back in crushed garlic and onions in the beginning stage of heating the oil.
Peppers: Green peppers go really well here, but red have less fodmaps. Per serving, its okay to eat up to 1/4 of a medium red capsicum/pepper, but only 1/2 a cup of green. So either go with red, or reduce your quantities of green pepper down to one cup max if you are following a low fodmap diet.
For the Kefta (Meatballs)
- 500 grams minced beef minced lamb, or a blend of the two.
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh coriander chopped
- 1 tsp paprika smoked
- 1 tsp cumin ground
- 1½ tsp salt sea salt or kosher – preferably not iodised
- ½ tsp tumeric ground
- ½ tsp cinnamon ground
- 1 tbs finely diced chives (substitute with onion if your not fructan sensitive)
For the Sauce
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 kg fresh tomatoes (or the equivalent in cans, if it’s what you have available)
- 1 small red capsicum, diced (green will work well too if you’re not on a low-fodmap diet)
- 2 tablespoons garlic oil (for non-fodmap dieters you can use 4 cloves of garlic instead)
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons cumin ground
- ½ tsp salt or more, to taste
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 2 leaves bay leaves
- 2 tbsp parsley chopped
- 2 tbsp coriander chopped
- 4 eggs
- 1 handful olives whole
Make the kefta (meatballs)
- Combine all of the ingredients from the kefta section (ground meat, herbs & spirces) into a bowl and mix with your hands until it’s well combined
- Take portions of the meat and roll into meatballs, the size is up to you. Traditionally, the keftas would be around the size of a small marble.
Make the sauce
- If working with fresh tomatoes, use a cheese grater to grate them to a pulp, discarding the skin.
- Place your tagine base, or pan, over a medium to low heat with the oil. Once heated, sauté the diced capsicum and onion for several minutes, before adding the garlic for just 1-2 minutes more.
- Add your tomatoes, and stir in all the herbs and spices. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook until the tomatoes cook down and the sauce thickens, for around 45 minutes, checking every 10-15 mins or so to give it a stir and mash the tomatoes down with the back of your stirring spoon, and adding water if necessary.
- When the sauce is thick enough, give it a taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Now, add the meatballs, cover and continue to cook until the meatballs are cooked through for a further 10 mins
Put it all together
- 5 minutes before serving, add the olives into the sauce to allow them to warm through, placing them gently between the koftas.
- Once the olives are added, carefully crack the eggs over top (careful not to burst the yolks!) and cover the tagine or pan for the final cooking minutes. Cook until the eggs are set (but not overdone)
Add the finishing touches
- Traditionally served with Khobz (Moroccan bread) for dunking, but if you prefer (or if you’re on a fodmap elimination diet as I was at the time of writing) you can eat these over some moroccan spiced millet