3 ratings

Moroccan Meatballs with Spicy Eggplant and Tomato Sauce



Seasoned with traditional Moroccan spices like cumin and cinnamon, the meatballs soak up the gingery, smoky sauce. It’s a luscious combination for a weeknight dinner or an easy meal on the weekend. If you like, you can even make the meatballs a day or two in advance. The sauce is delicious by itself served with couscous or orzo, or tucked into pita bread. 


For the meatballs

  • 1 slice Italian white bread with a soft crust, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3/4 pounds ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the spicy eggplant sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, finely chopped
  • 1 large purple eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
  • Two 14 1/2-ounce cans chopped tomatoes with their juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)


For the meatballs

In a large bowl, mix the ingredients until well combined. Shape into 1-inch balls, or use a large cookie dough scoop to shape the meatballs. Set them aside while you prepare the sauce. (At this point, the meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.) 

For the spicy eggplant sauce

Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add the onion, eggplant, paprika, ginger, cumin, cayenne, orange zest, and salt and sauté for about 3-5 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften and the spices become fragrant. Add the tomatoes and stock, stirring to blend. Carefully drop the meatballs into the sauce, piling them on top of each other. Lock the lid in place and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes.

Release the pressure naturally and remove the lid, tilting the pot away from you to avoid the escaping steam. Stir the meatballs and sauce together, and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and some black pepper if needed. Transfer the meatballs to a serving platter, spoon the sauce over the meatballs, and serve.