Meatball Tagine With Herbs and Lemon

Total Time
1hr 20mins
Prep 30 mins
Cook 50 mins

This delightful recipe comes from "Cooking Moroccan" by Tess Mallos. The meatballs do not need to be browned, which simplifies the prep. A tagine is an clay vessel, however, you do not need one to prepare this dish.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Prepare the meatballs: put the onion and parsley in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
  2. Tear the bread into pieces, add to the onion, along with the egg, and process briefly.
  3. Add the meat, cumin, paprika, pepper and 1 teaspoons salt and process to a thick paste, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally.
  4. Alternative preparation: grate the onion, chop the parsley, crumb the bread, and add to the meat in a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Knead until the mixture is paste like in consistency.
  5. With moistened hands, shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place them on a tray. Cover and refrigerate until required.
  6. Prepare the sauce: heat the butter or oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook over low heat until softened and golden.
  7. Add the paprika, turmeric, cumin and chili or cayenne pepper, and cook for 1 minute, stirring.
  8. Add the chicken stock and cilantro and bring to a boil.
  9. Add the meatballs to the pan, shaking so that they settle into the sauce. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  10. Add most of the parsley and the lemon juice and season, if necessary. Return to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
  11. If using preserved lemon, add now.
  12. Transfer to a tagine or bowl, and sprinkle with remaining parsley.
  13. Note 1: author suggests serving with crusty bread. I also suggest rice or couscous.
  14. Note 2: I substituted a yellow curry powder for the turmeric, as turmeric is a principal ingredient in curry powder.
  15. Note 3: I sometimes need to add a little additional stock for the sauce, depending on the pot I use.
Most Helpful

Delicious! Broth is savory, zingy, and yummy. The meatballs are super tender and flavorful. I used the food processor method to make them. I made it without the cilantro because it tastes like soap to me. I used the 1/4 t. cayenne in lieu of a fresh chili. It is just the right amount of heat. I will be making this again. I served it with couscous to soak up the broth.

Halima Dances February 03, 2015

These are delicious meatballs! I used ground turkey and left out the onion, otherwise made as directed. Loved the lemon flavor with all those spices, with just enough heat from the cayenne. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

loof December 29, 2011

This was fantastic. I made it for a dinner gathering, and 12 of us devoured those tasty meatballs. I made the beef version, and rather than using separate spices I used a "Ras al Hanout" spice mix that I had made previously, and just measured out the same total volume as if I would have used all the separate spices. I didn't have cilantro, so used a bit extra parsley. But I DID have preserved lemon, so loved being able to use it. Also subbed challah for the white bread in the meatballs. Served the meatballs over brown rice, with lots of sauce and bread on the side to soak up the sauce. Yum, yum, yum. Thanks for a fabulous dinner!

Susiecat too October 16, 2010