This Kefta Mkaouara is a richly flavoured tomato based tagine filled with meatballs, and with eggs poached in the sauce, reminiscent of Shakshuka.
Previously published in May 2015. Republished with updated content Sep 2021.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Table of contents
I have so many fond memories of eating these Moroccan meatball tagine on a number of occasions in Morocco and other parts of North Africa. In fact, on one particular trip, I couldn’t help myself and had it for lunch for four straight days!
What was interesting was the fact that each Kefta Mkaouara tagine was just slightly different from the other. This just confirms my belief that there never is one single way of cooking a recipe, no matter how traditional. It depends on the region, the family, and most definitely, the cook!
Kefta Mkaouara Recipe
There isn’t anything particularly difficult or complicated about cooking Kefta Mkaouara. The keftas (aka kofta, meatballs) themselves are pretty straight forward, flavoured with paprika and cumin, typical North African spices.
And the tomato sauce is also a simple matter of simmering away some chopped up tomatoes and meatballs. We then add some eggs at the end, and we’re done.
Pretty easy right? This meatball tagine has characteristics of so many Middle Eastern and North African dishes, namely, shakshuka, that very popular tomato based stew with poached eggs. Click here for the shakshuka recipe on this site.
I add a little more excitement to this meatball tagine by also using bell peppers in the sauce. The result is a dish with more depth and substance, dipping some bread into it straight out of the oven is an almost sensuous experience! Cheese topping optional, but a must for me. I do the same with shakshuka.
The Meatballs in this Tagine
The only “real work” involved in cooking up this kefta tagine is the making of the meatballs. We season some minced meat, then roll them into balls. This whole process takes about 20 minutes, maybe.
If you are feeling lazy, or just plain can’t be bothered, go ahead and use shop bought lamb or beef meatballs. I’m not going to judge. The result will be just as delicious.
Just one thing to bear in mind is that Moroccan meatballs tend to be on the small side, like a large marble. So if you can, buy mini meatballs.
Vegetarian Meatball Tagine
In the past, when I used to make this as a vegetarian dish for friends, I would use homemade falafels. But these days, there are so many delicious vegetarian meatballs out there, you’d be spoilt for choice. One of my favourites here in the UK, is Linda McCartney’s, found in many of our supermarkets.
For my sins, all my kids went vegetarian some years ago, and as my girls are allergic to eggs, I make vegan kefta mkaouara with vegan meatballs and also leave out the eggs altogether. As a devout carnivore, I can tell you that it’s really delicious.
How to Serve Kefta Mkaouara
As with any tagine, this meatball tagine is just perfect with bread. It would traditionally be served with khobz, but you can pretty much please yourself.
It also goes well with couscous, naturally, and any other grain you like. My kids love it with rice. And garlic bread. But then they eat garlic bread with anything!
And on that note, shall we get our aprons on?
If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you!
And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood
More Tagine Recipes on LinsFood
Kefta Mkaouara (Moroccan Meatball and Egg Tagine)
- 500 g minced lamb (or beef, or a mix of both), 10% fat. Lean will tend to dry out.
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- ½ chilli powder or to taste
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 800 g chopped tomatoes (2 x 400g/14 oz can)
- 1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
- 1 yellow capsicum (bell pepper)
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ chilli powder
- 125 ml water
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 eggs
- finely chopped parsley and coriander/cilantro
- toasted pine nuts or toasted flaked almonds
- grated cheese of your choice totally optional
Prep Work Meatballs
- Chop up the onion, parsley and coriander leaves for the meatballs.
- Mix all the meatballs ingredients together in a large bowl, cover, and let sit for 1 hour for the flavours to mingle and develop.In the meantime, wash your hands, and let's get on with the other prep work.
Prep Work – Aromatics and Peppers
- Finely chop the onion and garlic for the sauce. Set aside.
- Slice the red and yellow capsicums into thin strips about 2.5 cm/1 inch wide.
- Finely chop the parsley and coriander leaves for the final topping now, cover, and keep in the fridge. Or you can do this later after the tagine is cooked.
- Measure and set out all your spices.
Form the Meatballs
- Form little meatballs with the minced meat mixture, wetting your hands as you go along.You should get about 16 – 20, depending on the size.
Let's get Cooking
- Let's start with browning the meatballs in two batches, or 3 if your pan isn't big enough. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan on medium heat and fry half the meatballs, shaking the pan gently to roll them about to brown all over. About 3 minutes altogether should suffice.
- Take them out, set aside and do the next lot.
- Now, take a heavy based saucepan or a tagine and heat 2 Tbsp of oil on medium-high heat for the saucepan. The tagine will take at least 5 minutes to warm up before you can move on to the next step.Remember the diffuser if cooking in a tagine.Click here to read more on how to cook with and care for tagines.
- Sauté the onions and garlic for a minute.
- Add all the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer.If cooking in a tagine, cover and allow about 10-15 minutes for everything to warm up, before lowering the heat down.
- Lower the heat down, cover and cook the sauce and meatballs for 30 minutes. If cooking in a saucepan, stir towards the end as the sauce thickens.
- At the end of this cooking time, make small dips in the sauce and drop the eggs in. Fresher eggs will spread less.
- Cover and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the egg white is set but the yolks are still running.
- If using cheese, sprinkle all over, cover for a minute for the cheese to set.
- Take off the heat, sprinkle the nuts, parsley and coriander all over and serve immediately, as discussed above.