Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Kefta Mkaouara, or a simple, tasty Moroccan dish of lamb meatballs and egg in a tomato and cumin sauce.

Yum. Moroccan food. I love its heady, exotic smells and the vibrancy of colours as the completed dish is brought to the table. This dish, which is remarkably simple to make and quite economical, does not disappoint on either score. Phill's words were "Something smells good!" as he walked in from another trying day at work, and it did. The smell of lamb and cumin cooking together is instantly mouthwatering. And when the dish is completed, the dark red tones of the sauce contrasted with reassuringly golden yolks, and the flecks of verdant coriander set the dish off beautifully. You can't help but want to dive in. We did. Lola and Finn in particular were big fans of this dish which makes it even more of a winner in my book.
This dish is adapted with care from the original Rick Stein recipe in his wonderful book 'Mediterranean Escapes'. I chose to moderate the heat in the dish by using a milder paprika rather than the hot stuff as recommended in the original recipe. Phill and I would eat this with relish with a little more kick but the children would be less willing, but I don't think the dish suffered at all. If you season the meatballs and the sauce judiciously then what you might lose in kick you more than make up in terms of flavour. The other tweak I made was to substitute coriander for parsley. In my mind, lamb, cumin, tomato and coriander are an amazing combination and made to be together. Plus, I love coriander and need very little excuse to use it. Enjoy!
  Kefta Mkaouara, taken from Meditteranean Escapes by Rick Stein
Serves 4
Olive oil
4 fresh medium free range eggs
salt and pepper

For the meatballs

1 onion, chopped, (or blitzed in the food processor)

500g minced lamb
2 tablespoons (or more if it's your thing) finely chopped fresh coriander

1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika, and you could use hot if you want more of a kick, but for children, I decided to err on the side of caution.

For the sauce

2 small onions
2 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes (I use, for preference, tinned cherry tomatoes but it is by no means obligatory)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika (hot if you are of a mind to...)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed

More coriander for garnish or to put into the sauce if you like.


I am lazy. I used my food processor to blitz the onion and then added the rest of the meatball ingredients as illustrated. You can obviously do this by hand by chopping the onion before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Wet your hands (crucial!) and then shape the mixture into small balls.

Heat3 tbsp olive oil (and be prepared to add more if necessary) in a tagine (lucky you!) or a frying pan or if you're like me, my paella pan (again).

Brown the meatballs briefly on all sides, remove and set them to one side.

For the sauce, using the same pan you browned the meatballs in, add the onions to the pan (with extra oil if necessary) and saute gently until very soft but barely browned. Then add the chopped garlic and fry until fragrant.

Add the remaining ingredients for the sauce to the onions and leave to simmer for approximately 15 minutes. The sauce should concentrate and at that point you can add the meatballs back to the sauce.  

Taste the sauce for seasoning.

Make four little wells in the sauce and break four eggs into each well.  I space them out in a north, south, east and west arrangement.

 Place a lid on the pan (or, like me, some foil over the top of the paella pan) and over a low to moderate heat, allow the eggs to cook. A runny egg is nice but the dish does not suffer when the yolk is firmer in my opinion).

Serve, at the table, with some carbohydrate, maybe couscous, or flatbreads, or good quality bread such as an olive bread or sourdough or something. 

If you serve at the table, there are plenty of opportunities to dunk your bread in the pan after you have finished eating. Heaven!

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