moroccan meatballs

4 to 6    |   
Prep Time:
15 minutes + 30 minutes standing time    |   
Cook Time:
30 minutes

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moroccan meatballs

I went to cooking school in Marrakesh and learned to make fabulous tagines and couscous, but we begged our teacher for something simple that she’d cook at home and this was it. Of course it ended up being everybody’s favorite. Mix the meat and seasonings ahead of time for the best flavor, then roll and drop them into the sauce just before dinner. Ladle the meatballs over couscous, wide egg noodles, or rice. Or make the meatballs smaller and serve with toothpicks on small plates as an appetizer.


1 pound ground lamb or 1/2 pound each ground lamb and beef
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 small red onion, minced
2 tablespoons each minced fresh mint and cilantro

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 bay leaf (optional)


To make the meatballs, put ground meat in a bowl and sprinkle with cumin, paprika, and salt; add onion, mint, and cilantro, then mix well with your hands or a fork until spices and onion are well blended. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let mixture stand for 1/2 hour at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator for the flavors to develop.

To make the sauce, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped cilantro, garlic, paprika, cumin, bay leaf (if you have one on hand), and a good pinch of salt in a wide skillet or saute pan. Fill tomato can half full with water and add to pan. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until tomato paste melts, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, while you shape the meatballs.

Scoop and shape meat into 2-inch meatballs (or smaller if you like for appetizers). Add meatballs to the simmering sauce, stir gently with a big spoon to coat them, then return sauce to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes then serve. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.