Moroccan Meatball Tajine

moroccan meatball tajine-3

Moroccan Meatball Tajine

From Stonesoup
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This is a dish I’ve been making for years and am kinda surprised I haven’t ever written about it on Stonesoup. About time! It’s a brilliant example of how using spices can transform a boring old dish (Italian meatballs) into something exotic and super tasty.

Enough for: 2-3
Takes: 40 minutes

450g (1lb) minced (ground) beef
125g (5oz) almond meal
2 teaspoons ras el hanout, baharat or ground coriander
1 jar tomato passata or puree (700g / 25oz)
4 tablespoons butter
1 bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves picked
cauliflower rice, baby spinach or cooked couscous to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Combine beef and almond meal and your chosen spice in a large bowl. Season generously with salt. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place in an ovenproof dish.

2. Pour over the tomato passata or puree and top with butter. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or longer until the meatballs are browned on top and cooked through.

3. Serve meatballs on a bed of cauliflower rice, baby spinach or couscous with coriander leaves on top.


to serve with couscous/more substantial – cook couscous according to the packet but add some extra butter.

to serve with cauli rice – grate 1/2 small cauliflower using your food processor or a box grater and serve meatballs on top. No need to cook or warm it.

different accompaniments – great wrapped in lebanese bread, tortillas or other flat bread. Could be served with your favourite pasta.

short on time – Simmer the tajine on the stovetop until the meatballs are just cooked through – about 15 minutes.. You might also like to skip the meatball rolling and just cook the meat more like a bolognese sauce. A third option is to bake meatballs at 250C (480F). Will take about 20 minutes.

different meat – beef is a favourite but lamb is also great. Pork, chicken, turkey or buffalo could all be used.

vegetarian – try adding the spice above some eggplant or to these lentil balls.

more veg – add carrots and peppers to the sauce.

nut-free – replace almond meal with soft bread crumbs or cooked quinoa.

dairy-free – replace butter with lots of extra virgin olive oil.

more substantial (low carb) – serve more meatballs!

different herbs – mint, basil, parsley or baby spinach are all great.

italian meatballs – just skip the spice and serve with basil instead of the coriander.

indian meatballs – use garam masala as your spice and serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

onion – will keep in the pantry for months. Best if in a dark corner in a brown paper bag.

minced (ground) beef – freeze it.

almond meal / ras el hanout, baharat or ground coriander / tomato passata or puree / couscous
– keep them in the pantry.

butter – keeps in the fridge for months.

coriander (cilantro) – freeze it in a plastic bag.

– ungrated cauli will keep for weeks in a plastic bag in the fridge. Can be frozen but the texture isn’t as good when defrosted.

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  • I made this with chicken, panko (had almond flour, not meal, unfortunately) coriander, diced roasted tomatoes, and olive oil and sorry to say, it wasn’t great. Not sure exactly what did it, but the flavor combination just wasn’t very good – perhaps I strayed from the recipe too much by using panko and the almonds add flavor. I was surprised – I’ve made the tuna ragu several times, and it’s always been fab, so I’m guessing it’s me, not the recipe, in this case.

    • Hi MK!

      So glad you reported back on your disappointing result.

      First almond flour and almond meal are practically the same thing so you could have used almond flour.

      I think you hit the nail on the head with the panko as being the problem. It’s very different in texture and much less flavoursome than the almond meal. And much less fat so I can imagine your meatballs would have been very dry.

      Also using chicken instead of beef or lamb would have also meant less flavour.

      If you’re willing to risk another go with almond meal I think you’ll find a huge difference!

      And remember to add salt – that is huge for getting the flavour right.

      Keep experimenting!

      • Thanks for responding, Jules! Good to know that almond flour can be subbed for almond meal – when I tried Googling to see if that were possible, everything I read told me the opposite – that almond meal can be subbed for almond flour, so I wasn’t sure enough to try using almond flour. Wasn’t sure if that would give the necessary texture, so I fell back on panko. Will try again!

        • Oh excellent MK!

          In all my recipes they’re definitely interchangeable 🙂

          And please keep me posted if you have any other less than ideal outcomes – I’m here to help you

  • This was delicious! We had it for dinner yesterday, using baharat. My partner- who isn’t necessarily a fan of almond- loved it. He had it with rice, I had it with cauliflower mash & some fresh baby spinach. Thanks Jules, this is a gorgeous recipe, I had the leftovers for lunch today too.

  • I made this for lunch today accompanied with your spiced cabbage with feta. Beautiful! I love how the meatballs have a crunchy crusty top, yet bake moist and tasty in the sauce. I added a bay leaf to the passata. So good how such simple recipes can be so tasty & satisfying. Thank you again for sharing these, Jules! 🙂

    • Sorry to be confusing Denise!

      The original recipe had you soften a diced onion and add it to the meatball mixture. But I updated the recipe to make it more simple (you don’t really need the onion). But forgot to update the variations.

      Thanks for spotting the error!

  • I used couscous instead of the cauliflower rice, and a box of stuffing mix instead of the bread crumbs instead of the almond meal (almonds are sooooo expensive, and I’m not even sure where I can get almond meal at). It tastes yummy, but I feel awful about how unhealthy I made the meal 🙁

    • I get my almond meal from the health food store because they sell it in 1kg bags and it’s cheaper but you can also get it in the nut section of the supermarket
      Don’t feel bad… It was still much healthier than something processed!

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