Kefta tagine with herbs, spices and lemon


This is another recipe from The Cookbook Guru’s feature cookbook, The Food of Morocco, by Paula Wolfert.  I was flicking through the book (which, BTW, is fabulous.  If you are interested in Moroccan cooking, check it out) and these little meat balls caught my eye.  Maus is in charge of meatballs in our house so I thought I could kill two birds with one stone: sample another recipe from the feature cookbook and get Maus to cook dinner!  Surprisingly, Maus was willing – maybe, after a quick read, she realised making the kefta was going to be extremely easy – put everything into a food processor and pulse, then form into walnut size balls.  Couldn’t be easier than that!  I offered to make the sauce.  Luckily, that was just as easy.  

I can highly recommend this recipe.  We had a delightful meal.  It was much more exotic than normal meat balls or rissoles with little extra effort.  The kefta stayed lovely and moist, poached in the sauce.  We had the kefta with roasted tomatoes with rose water and flat bread.  It is most certainly a ‘Do, again’ recipe.



  • 450g minced lamb or beef
  • 3 tbs* crème fraîche or grated fresh beef suet (we used crème fraîche)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbs* roughly chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 tbs* roughly chopped coriander leaves  

*These are 15 mil tablespoons.


  • 1 medium red onion, grated**
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup saffron water***
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2-3 pinches cayenne pepper
  • pinch of ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup coriander leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbs* lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey (this is not in the recipe but I thought the sauce needed a bit of sweetness)

**Paula suggests using the large holes on a box grater.  Once the onion is grated, rinse under cold water and drain, reducing the pungency.

*** Put a pinch of saffron into a ¼ cup of hot water and set aside to diffuse.



  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until pasty.
  2. Form into walnut size balls.


  1. Add the grated onion, butter, saffron water, paprika, cumin, ginger, black pepper, cayenne pepper, turmeric, ½ tsp salt, ¾ cup of the coriander and ½ cup of hot water to large tagine or casserole. Slowly increase the heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the kefta and poach, covered, for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through cooking.
  3. Add the lemon juice (and honey, if using) and season to taste.
  4. Garnish with the remaining coriander.
  5. Serve with lots of bread to mop up the sauce.


16 thoughts on “Kefta tagine with herbs, spices and lemon

  1. Pingback: In My Bits & Bobs Kitchen | My Kitchen Witch

  2. You know I’ve never been able to get my husband to even try lamb. He claims “he doesn’t like it” (although he readily admits he’s never tried it). So my Blue Apron order came in last week & it had minced lamb to make into meatballs much like these, cooked in a sauce & served in a roll with a remoulade sauce on top. It was really tasty & my husband liked it, maybe because I told hm it was hamburger.
    After that it’s very possible that I might be able to get him to try lamb again…you never know but these look really good AND the best part is that John is the meatball maker in this house (I hate making meatballs).

  3. Reblogged this on The Cookbook Guru and commented:
    Make sure you check out the latest contribution from Glenda at Passion Fruit Garden, this time in the form of delicious meatballs.

    Happy Reading and Happy Cooking,


  4. I laughed when I read this… you are way ahead of me. I was thinking how good they looked, and could I get the G.O. to make them. After a couple of so-so meatball-rissole efforts on my part I enlisted his assistance last night for the first time…desperate measures on his part as other than mashed potato he doesn’t take ownership of food cooked inside. Last night I used excellent pork mince from Chop Shop Carnivorium recommeded by Celia, but I was thinking maybe lamb next… these would be perfect 🙂

    • Hi Francesca. I think it would also work as a starter with bread. Everyone could get a little bowl and just help themselves to the meat balls.

  5. Oh, drat! I saw that one, too. However, I have another one up my sleeve. In fact, I just made some of her saffron water to use in the recipe. I was amazed at how easy it was to do + it stretches out that expensive ingredient. Will freeze what I don’t use immediately. Still intend to try this recipe. Good to know it passes your test!

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