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Tagine of Kefta With Lemons and Spices

Meatballs (or kefta) are beloved by Moroccans
Tagine of Kefta With Lemons and Spices recipe - The Daily Meal
Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune

A memorable lunch at Restaurant Laanibra in Fes, Morocco featured lamb kefta (meatballs) poached in a lemon broth, and served with mountains of chewy bread. Such simplicity is easily reproduced at home in this recipe by British food writer Ghillie Basan from her cookbook "Recipes From a Moroccan Kitchen" (Lorenz Books, 2013). If you don't own a tagine, use a heavy skillet with a lid. —Margaret Sheridan

This recipe was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.


  • 1 Pound ground lamb
  • 3 onions, grated
  • 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Ounce fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 hot chili, seeded, finely chopped
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 Cup water
  • 1 lemon, quartered


Step 1: In a large bowl, knead 1 pound ground lamb with 1 cup grated onion, 1 small bunch chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste; mix until well blended.

Step 2: Shape mixture into individual balls, the size of walnuts. (It will yield about 24 pieces.)

Step 3: In a heavy lidded skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add remaining grated onion, 1 ounce chopped ginger, 1 chopped hot chili and a pinch of saffron threads. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion turns color; add 1 small bunch chopped cilantro and the juice of 1 lemon.

Step 4: Add 1 1/4 cups water; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste; heat to a boil. Add meatballs; reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Poach, turning meatballs occasionally, 20 minutes.

Step 5: Add 1 quartered lemon; cook, uncovered, to reduce liquid, 10 minutes. Serve hot.