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Spicy Moroccan Meatballs, Egg and Chips

by Nadia Sawalha from Stuffed Vine Leaves Saved My Life

Inspired by Moroccan flavours, these delicious lamb meatballs are spiced with paprika, cumin and cinnamon before being smothered in tomato sauce and served with baked eggs and homemade chips.

From the book


In Moroccan kitchens they don’t fry the spices or onions, but that just goes against every fibre of my culinary being, so I apologize if I cause offence to anyone with this recipe. It is my favourite Moroccan treat, so please try it. It’s also deeply satisfying to make as well as to eat.

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For the meatballs:
1kg (2¼lb) minced lamb
1 large onion, peeled and finely grated
4 tsp each ground cumin and ground coriander
2 tsp each paprika, ground ginger and ground cinnamon
½ large bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
½ large bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
For the sauce:
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp each ground cumin, ground coriander and paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 x 400g (14oz) cans chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp each chopped fresh parsley and coriander
A pinch of granulated sugar
1 egg per person

Essential kit

You will need a tagine or a deep, heavy-based frying pan.


Put the ingredients for the meatballs into a mixing bowl and mix until almost a paste. In Morocco the women wet their hands before shaping the mixture into walnut-sized balls. Once rolled, pop them in the fridge to firm up.

For the sauce, put the oil into a tagine (or a deep, heavy-based frying pan) and fry the onion really slowly until it’s gloopy. Now sprinkle in all the spices and stir until the aroma is released.

Add the tomato purée and fry until the colour changes, then add the tomatoes, parsley, coriander and sugar. Bring up to a near boil, then simmer very slowly for 15 minutes. Add a little water if the sauce looks a bit thick.

You can now drop in your spicy meatballs and simmer for 30 minutes. Don’t fiddle about with them or you’ll end up with broken balls — ouch!

With a spoon, make little hollows in the sauce and carefully crack in the eggs. Cover and simmer gently until the eggs are cooked to your liking: 5-10 minutes.

In Morocco this dish is taken to the table and everyone dips in with freshly baked baguettes. They often serve French fries with it too, which is really, really good, and always causes gasps of appreciation whenever I serve them.


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