Moroccan meatball tagine with lemon and olives

OK, technically speaking this dish is not a tagine, but let us not nitpick. I found the recipe in a BBCgoodfood mini cookbook entitled Pressure Cooker Recipes. I hold BBCgoodfood in very high regard; indeed, I might be one of the very few people for whom Crome suggestion, for typing bbc in the address bar is, instead of the more usual

Even though the recipe is intended to be cooked in a pressure cooker, it worked perfectly well when made in a Le Creuset pot. And I can tell you that the meatballs do not fall apart due to overcooking if you are waiting for the boyfriend to return from the gym. And miss a stop on the way back. And shower. And change. And put the gym clothes in the washer. But I digress.


3 onions, peeled
500 g minced beef (the original recipe asked for lamb, but we figured beef is a bit leaner. also, the store did not have minced lamb…)
zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus 1 whole unwaxed lemon, quartered
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
small bunc flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
pinch saffron strands
one can of tomatoes (400 g)
100 g pitted black Kalamata olives
sliced green part of a spring onion, to garnish (optional)

couscous, to serve


1. Chop the onions finely (a food processor will do the job nicely, but a knife also works). Put the beef, lemon zest, spices, parsley, and half the onions in a large bowl and season. Using your hands, mix until well combined, then shape into walnut-sized balls. Drizzle some olive oil on the balls and cook in a heated frying pan to get some colour on the outside.

2. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a pot, add the remaining onion, ginger, chilli, and saffron. Cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is softened and starting to colour. Add the lemon juice, canned tomatoes, and olives. Bring to boil and add the meatballs. Cook for about 45 min (or more), adding a splash of water if necessary.

3. Add the lemon wedges (and coriander if you like your food to taste like soap). Cook for a further 10 min. If it looks too runny, cook uncovered so that the liquid reduces. Serve hot with couscous, sprinkling with the sliced green part of a spring onion.

2015-02-06 21.15.35


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