North African Meatballs

I decided to make this recipe from the New York Times this week as it looked really tasty. I served the meatballs with orzo pasta (gluten-free).



• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 and 1/2 cups finely diced onion

• 3 garlic cloves, minced

• 2 tablespoons tomato paste

• 1 inch piece cinnamon stick

• Large pinch saffron, crumbled

• Salt and pepper

• 1-1/2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

    • Optional: Seeded, chopped large tomato


• 1 and 1/2 cups cubed day-old firm white bread

• 1 cup milk

• 1 pound ground beef or lamb

• 1 large egg, beaten

• 1 teaspoon salt

• ¼ teaspoon black pepper

• 4 garlic cloves, minced

• ⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg

• 1 teaspoon ground ginger

• 1 teaspoon turmeric

• 2 teaspoons paprika

• ¼ teaspoon cayenne

• ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

• ¼ teaspoon ground coriander

• ½ teaspoon ground cumin

• 3 tablespoons chopped parsley

• 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

• 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion

• All-purpose flour, for dusting

• Olive oil or vegetable oil


• 1 cup giant couscous, m’hamsa, or medium couscous

• 2 tablespoons butter

• ½ cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water to soften, then drained

• Salt

• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


1 Make the sauce: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onion and cook without browning until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon and saffron, and stir well to incorporate. Season generously with salt and pepper, and allow to sizzle for 1 minute more. Add broth and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add fresh tomatoes and additional tomato paste to thicken. May be made several hours in advance, up to a day. (Remove piece of cinnamon when serving sauce).

2 Make the meatballs: Put bread cubes and milk in a small bowl. Leave bread to soak until softened, about 5 minutes, then squeeze dry.

3 In a mixing bowl, put squeezed-out bread, ground meat and egg. Add salt, pepper, garlic, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, cloves, coriander and cumin. Mix well with hands to distribute seasoning. Add 2 tablespoons each of parsley, cilantro and scallion, and knead for a minute. May be prepared several hours in advance, up to a day.

4 With hands, roll mixture into small round balls about the size of a quarter. Dust balls lightly with flour. Heat a few tablespoons of oil, or a quarter-inch depth, over medium-high heat and fry meatballs until barely browned, about 2 minutes per side. Drain and blot on paper towel. Simmer meatballs in saffron-tomato sauce, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until tender.

5 Meanwhile, make the couscous, if desired: Cook according to package directions, fluff gently and stir in butter and raisins. Season with salt and cinnamon, and toss well.

6 Garnish meatballs with remaining parsley, cilantro and scallion. Serve with couscous or rice.

2018-03-14T20:40:50+00:00 October 11th, 2017|Recipes|0 Comments

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