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.


58 thoughts on “Kefta Meatball Tagine

  1. 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!

    • 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? 😂

    • 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…

  2. 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!

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

    • 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.

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

    • 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!

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

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

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

  4. 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! :-)

    • 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…

  5. 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!

    • 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!

  6. 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!

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

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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

    • 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!

      • 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.

  10. 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)!

  11. 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.

    • 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😬

  12. 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.

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