Meatball Tagine with Herbs and Lemon-Morocco

I love Moroccan food and a highlight of my time there was definitely having an authentic meal. Although there is an abundance of Moroccan restaurants back in my hometown of Philadelphia, there don’t really seem to be any in Pittsburgh, rather just a lot of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants. I would love one day to go back and explore the country in greater depth.

I kept things extremely simple with this week’s food travels, making just an entree and dessert. From my Great Tastes One Pot cookbook I made a Meatball Tagine with Herbs and Lemon. A tagine is a dish from North Africa that was named after the special earthenware pot in which it is cooked.


I unfortunately don’t own a tagine but resolved after this week that I definitely should acquire one since it would be a great addition to my kitchen.

The tagine was delicious and extremely easy to make. It does need time to cook once you’ve added the meatballs to the sauce so plan accordingly. It also makes your house smell divine with all the spices simmering away.

Meatball Tagine with Herbs and Lemon



1/2 onion, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 white bread slices, crusts removed

1 egg

1 lb. 2 oz ground lamb or beef

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper



1 tablespoon butter or oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 red chili, seeded and sliced

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 preserved lemon (optional)


Put the onion and parsley in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Tear the bread into pieces, add to the onion, along with the egg and process briefly. Add the lamb or beef, cumin, paprika, pepper and 1 teaspoon salt and process to a thick paste, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally. Alternatively, grate the onion, chop the parsley, crumb the bread and add to the meat in a bowl with the egg, spices and seasoning. Knead until paste-like in consistency. 


With moistened hands, shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place them on a tray. Cover and refrigerate until required. 


To make the herb and lemon sauce, heat the butter or oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook over low heat until softened and golden, then add the paprika, tumeric, cumin and chili and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and cilantro and bring to a boil. 


Add the meatballs to the pan, shaking so that they settle into the sauce. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add most of the parsley and the lemon juice and season, if necessary. Return to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. If using preserved lemon, rinse well under running water, remove and discard the pulp and cut rind into strips. Add to the meatballs. Transfer to a tagine or bowl and scatter with the remaining parsley. Serve hot with crusty bread. 

For dessert I made Gazelles’ Horns, Kaab el Ghzal which the cookbook describes as being “one of Morocco’s favorite and best known pastries and are commonly served at wedding celebrations.”

Gazelles’ Horns


1 3/4 cups plain flour

pinch of salt

2 tbsp butter, melted

2 tbsp orange flower water

1 large egg yolk, beaten

powdered sugar, to serve



2 cups ground almonds

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tbsp orange flower water

2 tbsp butter, melted

2 egg yolks, beaten

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


-First make the almond paste. Mix together all the ingredients to make a smooth paste. 


-Make the pastry. Mix the flour with the salt. Stir in the melted butter, orange flower water and about three-quarters of the egg yolk. Stir in enough cold water to make a fairly soft dough. 


-Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, the place on a floured surface and roll out as thinly as possible. Cut the dough into long strips about 3 inches wide. 


-Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Pinch off small pieces of the almond paste and roll them between your hands into thin sausages about 3 inches long with tapering ends. 


-Place these in a line along one side of the strips of pastry about 1 1/4 inches apart. Dampen the pastry edges with water and then fold the other half of the strip over the filling and press the edges together. 


-Using a pastry wheel, cut around each sausage to make a crescent. Make sure that the edges are firmly pinched together. 


-Prick the crescents with a fork and place on a buttered baking sheet. Brush with the remaining egg yolk and bake for 12-16 minutes until lightly colored. Cool and then dust with powered sugar. 

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1 Comment

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    Summer Tagine-Morocco - The Red Headed Traveler
    May 17, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    […] winter I made a meatball tagine with herbs and lemon (you can check out the post and recipe for it here). In case you need a refresher on tagine 101, it’s a Berber dish from North Africa, that is […]

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