Kefta Meatball Tagine

The whole name of this recipe is Kefta Meatball Tagine in Tomato Sauce with Eggs. It’s from the cookbook Morocco, written by Jeff Koehler, published in 2012. I think I bought the cookbook because of the stunning photo on the cover, which is a beet and potato soup.

The subtitle describes this book as “a culinary journey with recipes from the spice-scented markets of Marrakech to the date-filled oasis of Zamora.”

From the book, “Tagine is the name of the dish as well as the round, shallow-based terra-cotta (clay or ceramic) casserole with a tall, pointed, conical lid. The lid fits into the base’s grooved rim and acts as a closed chimney. The steam rises and condenses on the wall of the lid, and the moisture falls back onto the simmering food, preventing the loss of moisture or flavor. Tagines are perfect for slow cooking, whether over an ember-filled brazier or the low to medium heat on a stove.”

There is some prepping to do if you’ve just purchased a tagine, similar to seasoning a cast-iron skillet. But care must be taken always to not overheat the tagine or it will crack. Medium direct heat is the maximum suggested for using a tagine on the stove.

Also from the book, “To season a tagine, submerge the base and lid in water for at least 2 hours (overnight if not glazed). Remove and let dry completely. Brush the inside of the base and lid with olive oil. For an unglazed tagine, paint the entire vessel with oil. Place in a cold oven and turn on to 350 degrees. Bake for 2 hours. Turn off the heat and allow the tagine to slowly, and completely, cool. Season the tagine again if it goes unused for a number of months.”

Which is probably what happened to my first tagine. I hadn’t used it for a while, and didn’t realize I should re-season it, so the bottom cracked.

I recently decided to purchase one again. Because I love the look of La Chamba cookware, I purchased a La Chamba tagine. Seasoning directions were included.

This recipe is reminiscent of shakshuka, with the eggs cooked in red sauce, but then, with meatballs?!! I just had to make it.

Kefta Meatball Tagine in Tomato Sauce with Eggs
printable recipe below

1 1/4 pound ground beef, not learn
1/2 medium red onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
Heaped 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Heaped 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups canned peeled whole Italian plum tomatoes, seeded, with juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large eggs

In a mixing bowl, add the meat, onion, one of the garlic cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon each of the cumin, paprika, cinnamon, parsley, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and blend into a consistent, smooth paste.

Taking spoonfuls of the mix, roll meatballs that are about 1 1/4” in diameter. There should be about 36 total.

In a food processor, using quick pulses, purée the tomatoes and their juice. (I used tomato sauce I’d made from my fresh tomatoes.)

In a tagine, add the olive oil and tomatoes, season with salt, and cook over medium-low heat until deep red and thicker, about 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining garlic, spices, and herbs.

Gently set the meatballs in the tomato sauce. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, gently turning the meatballs with a pair of spoons until browned on all sides.

Dribble in 1/4 cup of water, loosely cover, and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. The tomato sauce should be a little loose. Add a bit more water if necessary to keep the sauce loose.

Make four spaces between the meatballs and gently crack the eggs into the tagine. Cover and cook until the eggs set, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately.

I served with a little bit more chopped parsley and cilantro, as well as a flatbread on the side.

I didn’t make my own flatbread, I purchased pita bread.

Wow this is so good, just as expected. The spices make this dish, as do the herbs.

Of course, you don’t need a tagine to make this dish, so don’t worry if you don’t own one. Use a braiser or deep skillet.


By Published On: October 31st, 201958 Comments on Kefta Meatball Tagine

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Travel Gourmet October 31, 2019 at 7:45 AM - Reply

    Gorgeous recipe. I love tagines and this with the meatballs and egg looks great. I have a tagine I bought in the Marrakesh market and your instructions for seasoning them is really helpful. I have to confess I usually make my tagines in a shallow lidded Le Creuset!

    • chef mimi October 31, 2019 at 8:23 AM - Reply

      Right, I know. They’re kind of bulky to store, too! But they’re fun, and I didn’t actually know that the shape of the top helps with the cooking. Although I guess all lids do, right? 😂

  2. Gerlinde@Sunnycovechef October 31, 2019 at 9:52 AM - Reply

    What a tasty looking fish. It reminds me of my trip to Morocco .

    • chef mimi October 31, 2019 at 5:41 PM - Reply

      HAHAHAHAHAHA! I’m sure you mean dish! Brings back horrible memories of my mother bugging me to proof read. Proof read. But nope, I still don’t!😂 Morocco is on my list of places still to go…

  3. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen October 31, 2019 at 10:14 AM - Reply

    This looks so good, and the egg is the perfect touch.

    • chef mimi October 31, 2019 at 5:40 PM - Reply

      Isn’t that nice?! It was such a lovely combination. And those spices…

  4. Kim Bultman October 31, 2019 at 5:34 PM - Reply

    Wowza! Those meatballs took it over the top, Mimi — no wonder you were tempted to make this. I loved that they didn’t contain breadcrumbs or any other binders either — just the “good stuff.” Looks like you enjoy your eggs as set (or not) as I do. :) Swooning over that last creamy yolk photo — Moroccan nirvana!

    • chef mimi October 31, 2019 at 5:39 PM - Reply

      Yeah, I know, they almost look raw! But better that than waiting too long before taking the pics 😬 But such great flavors!

  5. sippitysup October 31, 2019 at 6:27 PM - Reply

    I try to tell myself that I don’t need a tagine to make this. And then I see yours and I want to get one anyway! Where ever will I put it? GREG

    • chef mimi October 31, 2019 at 6:47 PM - Reply

      I know! That’s why I dragged my feet for so long getting another one. We have a giant basement, where my tagine sits presently. In L.A.? I dunno.

  6. jenniferguerrero1 October 31, 2019 at 6:47 PM - Reply

    I love that book! We were in Morocco for part of our honeymoon, and the book transported us right back!

    • chef mimi October 31, 2019 at 6:58 PM - Reply

      Oh, it’s an our travel list. Geez, what a photographer’s dream. What a fabulous choice for a honeymoon.

  7. sherry November 1, 2019 at 7:00 AM - Reply

    great flavours here. who can resist a meatball? no one, I say!:-)

    • chef mimi November 1, 2019 at 8:19 AM - Reply

      Right?!! You’re definitely right.

  8. the Painted Apron November 1, 2019 at 8:26 AM - Reply

    Oh my what a stunning meal! My sister in law gave me a tagine years ago and I never could figure out what to make or do with it so I gave it away! Beautiful!

    • chef mimi November 1, 2019 at 9:05 AM - Reply

      Nooooooooo!!!! Oh well, it’s really not necessary!

  9. a little Swiss, a little Canadian November 1, 2019 at 4:00 PM - Reply

    Such a delicious looking dish! It must smell and taste amazing!😋

    • chef mimi November 2, 2019 at 2:22 PM - Reply

      It did. I actually doubled the spices. I guess I should have mentioned that. So maybe mine wasn’t traditional, but it was damn good!

  10. David Scott Allen November 2, 2019 at 12:43 AM - Reply

    I love Moroccan food and these meatballs look spectacular. The are on my “must make” list!

    • chef mimi November 2, 2019 at 2:21 PM - Reply

      What really attracted me to the recipe was the addition of eggs in the sauce with the meatballs. So much goodness!

  11. Abbe@This is How I Cook November 2, 2019 at 3:30 PM - Reply

    This does sound perfect and I love anything with meatballs. You are right about it looking like shakshuka…but in my mind this is way better!

    • chef mimi November 2, 2019 at 4:24 PM - Reply

      like shakshuka with meatballs – even better!

  12. Sissi November 2, 2019 at 4:20 PM - Reply

    Sounds lovely! I love meatballs and strangely don’t prepare them often enough… and obviously an egg in a tomato sauce is absolutely delicious.

    • chef mimi November 2, 2019 at 4:25 PM - Reply

      Well, me, neither. Meatballs are a bit tedious to make. But oh so good. And in this sauce they were spectacular!

  13. Debra November 2, 2019 at 6:25 PM - Reply

    The colors alone grab me, Mimi and this really would be an attractive dish to serve. I don’t have a tangine, but I’ve entertained the thought of getting one on more than one occasion. I might just do it! :-)

    • chef mimi November 2, 2019 at 6:36 PM - Reply

      Well, it does make a beautiful presentation, and there are so many from which to choose – so many different styles. But of course you know you don’t really need one…

  14. Mrs. DeYarmond November 3, 2019 at 6:18 AM - Reply

    Omg !! This is so delicious ! And gorgeous pictures it just makes me crave some meatballs right now !

    • chef mimi November 3, 2019 at 6:22 AM - Reply

      Well that is quite the compliment! But yes, this was spectacular. Spicy and fun to eat!

  15. November 3, 2019 at 11:14 AM - Reply

    I’m lucky enough to have visited Marrakech. In 1981 when I was 9! Ha ha. We lived in Gibraltar for a couple of years when my dad was in the Navy so we took a trip over to Morocco and travelled around. That is when I was lucky enough also to experience my first Tagine! I do also have my own tagine and love all the flavours you get from all those delicious Moroccan spices. This is a lovely recipe. I have never cooked eggs in tagine though. Got to try this!

    • chef mimi November 3, 2019 at 12:42 PM - Reply

      You’re so lucky! I’m sure you have memories of Marrakech since you were all of 9 years old! Moroccan spices are really truly wonderful. Better than incense!

  16. Ashley November 3, 2019 at 6:03 PM - Reply

    I so love Moroccan food! This is great! My mouth is watering.

    • chef mimi November 3, 2019 at 7:35 PM - Reply

      Isn’t it fabulous! Thank you so much. It was so good.

  17. Tandy | Lavender and Lime November 4, 2019 at 2:26 AM - Reply

    I use my tagine for all sorts of dishes, and I wish you well to use yours. This is my type of recipe for a slow brunch :)

    • chef mimi November 4, 2019 at 3:42 AM - Reply

      I can see that. I should just leave it out on the stove!

  18. David @ Spiced November 4, 2019 at 7:12 AM - Reply

    Excellent first choice for this new tagine, Mimi! I don’t have a tagine, but it’s been on my list for quite some time now. (Hmmm…Christmas this year, perhaps?) This kefta meatball dish looks absolutely delicious, and I can only imagine how good your kitchen smelled while this was cooking. Totally saving this for when I finally get that tagine!

    • chef mimi November 4, 2019 at 7:19 AM - Reply

      It was so good! I can’t resist anything with eggs, but the meatballs were fabulous as well. And that sauce!!! Mmmmmmm

  19. muschetta November 4, 2019 at 10:53 AM - Reply

    Your recipes are proper professional ones Mimi! I love your step by step tutorials as it makes them so much easier for the reader to follow and they really make you want to try them. I certainly want to try this one, it looks so yum!

    • chef mimi November 4, 2019 at 1:21 PM - Reply

      Aw, that’s so nice Alida! Thank you. This was a recipe worth trying.

  20. Laura November 4, 2019 at 12:42 PM - Reply

    This is totally my kind of recipe, Mimi! Those spices have my mouth watering just reading their names. I love this! Can’t wait to give it a try. I don’t have a Tagine, but I imagine it will work out in some vessel I already own. Thanks!

    • chef mimi November 4, 2019 at 1:20 PM - Reply

      It certainly will! I love the word vessel – so rustic!

  21. cookingontheweekends November 4, 2019 at 3:26 PM - Reply

    I have a tagine that I haven’t used in way too long. I love cooking with it and this incredibly delicious looking recipe is the perfect reason to bring it out. My family will LOVE this. :-) ~Valentina

    • chef mimi November 4, 2019 at 4:12 PM - Reply

      That’s how I was as well with mine, probably because I have a few favorite pots and pans that I use without thinking. But they’re so fun to use, and definitely make a nice presentation!

  22. StefanGourmet November 5, 2019 at 1:14 AM - Reply

    This looks great! I can’t use a tajine on my induction stove. But like you said, the recipe can be made without.

    • chef mimi November 5, 2019 at 5:31 AM - Reply

      Yes. I don’t know what that is. Is that a flat surface? With special pots and pans?

      • StefanGourmet November 5, 2019 at 11:35 AM

        Yes it is a flat surface (easy to clean). Most pots and pans work on it, but not all. They have to be steel, basically. So no aluminum or tajines. It reacts immediately (like gas and unlike other electric cookers) and has more power than gas. And there is no heat that leaks away (like with gas, I always get so hot when cooking on gas) and there is no residual heat like with electric cookers.

  23. Fran@G'day Souffle November 5, 2019 at 4:53 PM - Reply

    I’ve made Lamb Tagine with Preserved Lemon- it’s so exciting to have all the flavors cooking away under the conical lid. I only have a glass-top stove (not gas) so I had to use a special metal ring to conduct the heat. Eggs and meatballs are a great combo (I prefer lamb)!

    • chef mimi November 5, 2019 at 5:27 PM - Reply

      I do too! In fact I was surprised that these weren’t lamb, but at least my husband ate the tagine!!!

  24. popsiclesociety November 6, 2019 at 1:32 AM - Reply

    Oh wow! I’m hungry just looking at the pictures! For sure also without the tagine is delicious too :)

    • chef mimi November 6, 2019 at 6:30 AM - Reply

      The pot just makes it more fun. Not sure it’s any different from a pot with a lid!!!

  25. kitchenriffs November 6, 2019 at 10:12 AM - Reply

    I love this dish! I lived in Morocco for a bit in the mid-70s, and this was the first dish I learned how to make while living there. Such great flavor! Yours looks terrific — thanks.

    • chef mimi November 6, 2019 at 10:23 AM - Reply

      Oh wow! What great memories you must have! I remember most of that decade, so I can’t even imagine what Morocco must have been like 1😬

  26. 2pots2cook November 9, 2019 at 3:23 AM - Reply

    Sweet Heavens ! Almost missed this beauty !!! Morocco is still amazing, at least to me :-) :-)

    • chef mimi November 9, 2019 at 6:48 AM - Reply

      Thank you! Such a wonderful combination of foods and flavors. I still haven’t been to Morocco…

  27. Penny November 11, 2019 at 2:49 PM - Reply

    What a colorful Tagine recipe. Love meatballs and the flavors you have combined. Will give it a try, even though I don’t have the proper vessel. Thanks Mimi.

    • chef mimi November 11, 2019 at 3:54 PM - Reply

      Yes, you really do. Any shallow pot or braiser will work, with a lid that fits!

  28. 2 sisters recipes November 27, 2019 at 3:42 PM - Reply

    This recipe sounds lovely Mimi! And so does that cook book!

    • chef mimi November 27, 2019 at 4:40 PM - Reply

      It’s a beautiful cookbook. Happy Thanksgiving!

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