Moroccan Lamb Meatball Tagine with Lemon and Mint Cous Cous

Moroccan Lamb Meatball Tagine with Lemon and Mint Cous Cous

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My first bash at using my beautiful tagine pot! I love it, it’s so lovely and colourful, just like those we saw in Marrakesh. I was a little worried my cooking skills wouldn’t do it justice but oh man, this recipe is tasty. I’m not generally a lamb lover, I find it greasy and over powering, especially when it’s slow cooked but this is light thanks to the lean mince and lots and lots of fresh herbs. Served with a zesty cous cous and a light rocket and mint salad this is a wonderful yet filling summer meal.

Also (side note) please don’t baulk at the length of the ingredients list! It looks long but the three components of the dish have similar ingredients so your shopping basket won’t be overflowing and expensive I promise!

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Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 50g breadcrumbs (fresh or panko)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 500g lean lamb mince
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large sprig of fresh mint (1 tsp dried)
  • 1 sprig of rosemary chopped (1 tsp dried)
  • Plain flour

For the Tagine:

  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • handful finely chopped mint
  • 100g frozen spinach
  • 2 white onions, sliced
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • handful cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • Large sprig of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Cous cous
  • Extra lemon zest, mint and rosemary

Method

First, place the tagine or casserole pan over a low heat (if using a tagine protect from open flame with a simmer ring) and add all the ingredients. Simply throw them all in, in no particular order. Stir and leave to simmer down and reduce while you do everything else.

In a large mixing bowl combine all the meatball ingredients and mix together thoroughly with your hands. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls then roll in flour and leave aside.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a large frying pan until hot, and fry off the onions until golden brown. Add these to tagine pot. Next heat the frying pan again with about 3 tbsp of oil over a high heat then add 3 to 4 of the floured meatballs until browned and crispy on all sides. This should take about 7 minutes. Remove and repeat for the next batch.

Meanwhile, cook the cous cous according to packet instructions, allowing about 50g per person. I generally prefer to put the grains in a bowl, just cover with boiling water, a tbsp of olive oil and seasoning and leave covered for 10 minutes until fluffy. I then stirred through chopped lemon zest, mint and rosemary and extra salt and pepper to your personal taste.

The tagine should be well reduced by now, so pop the par-cooked meatballs in top in a nice arrangement and whack the lid on the tagine. Simmer for about 20 minutes to really let all the flavours mingle and effectively steam cook the meatballs to they are super duper tender. In this time I whipped up a little rocket and mint salad to go with.

Serve with any of your favourite Moroccan accompaniments, from a minted cucumber salad to unlevened round rolls, but always with some thick yoghurt!

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