Kefta mkaouara (spicy egg, meatball and tomato tagine)

This recipe comes from a Rick Stein book, Mediterranean Escapes, which accompanied one of his BBC series from a few years ago.

It is pretty straightforward to make and serves four people. It is a dish that I’ve cooked a few times in the past. This time, I halved the quantities and made enough for two.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 very fresh medium-sized free-range eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a small handful fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped, to garnish
For the meatballs
450g/1lb minced beef or lamb
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon hot paprika
For the sauce
1 medium onion, finely chopped
900g/2lb ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped, or 2 x 400g/14oz cans chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt to taste

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

2. For the meatballs, put the minced beef, parsley, cumin, paprika, one teaspoon salt and some freshly ground black pepper into a bowl and mix together well using your hands. Dampen your hands and form the mixture into about 28 2.5cm/1in balls.

3. Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a shallow tagine or frying pan and brown the meatballs briefly on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and set to one side.

(n.b. Here, I used my incredibly useful Spanish earthenware dish, which is called a cazuela in Spanish.)

4. For the sauce, add the onion to the tagine or pan with the remaining tablespoon of oil and cook gently for ten minutes until very soft and just beginning to brown. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and leave to simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until well concentrated in flavour but not too thick. Season well with salt to taste.

5. Return the meatballs to the sauce and mix together. Transfer to a shallow ovenproof dish if you have prepared the sauce in a frying pan, otherwise leave the mixture in the tagine. Make four slight dips in the mixture and break an egg into each one. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the eggs are just set.

6. Scatter with the chopped coriander and serve with warm flatbreads (or pittas).

(I didn’t do this, because I didn’t have any coriander. I did have some dill, though, so I used that instead. It was pretty nice, but obviously different.)

That is pretty much it. Simple and delicious.

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