Thursday, July 23, 2009

Take a flavor vacation without even leaving your house

A couple months ago I made my mother breakfast for mother's day. Needless to say, it wasn't your average everyday breakfast. It was a Moroccan tagine breakfast with eggs and delicious lamb kefta. If you've never had kefta before, they're a lot like meatballs. Actually, I take that back. They are balls of meat, but they taste nothing like meatballs. They are much smoother and spicier but also sweet at the same time.

If you're looking for an adventure in the kitchen, don't be daunted by the thought of Moroccan food. You can make the kefta the night before and throw everything together in the tagine the next day. You might even be surprised at how few ingredients actually go into the dish.

A small note before I begin the recipe: if you are cooking with a tagine, you must - and I mean MUST - invest in a heat distributor for your heating element. Otherwise you can crack the bottom of your beautiful basin (haha, alliteration. Alton Brown would be proud). You can pick one up at a specialty cookware store or even at Target. I found mine at our local grocery store. Also, If you don't have a tagine, don't worry. You can use a fry pan with about 3 inch sides and a lid or even a casserole dish.

And finally, the babbling ceases. Here's the recipe:

Kefta with Eggs and Roasted Cumin
Adapted from Ghillie Basan's book Tagine, Spicy Stews from Morocco


For the kefta:
  • 8 oz ground lamb
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1-2 teaspoons ras-el-hanout*
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1-2 tablespoons flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
For the tagine:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to your heat level)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons cumin
  • roughly chopped parsley (for garnish)
*NOTE: You can purchase ras-el-hanout in Middle Eastern or African markets, but if you would like to make your own (which is what I did), just see the recipe that follows.

  1. For the kefta, put the lamb, onion, mint, ras-el-hanout, cayenne, and parsley in a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper, and mix well together. Form the mixture into 12 equal-sized balls. (This can be done the night before)
  2. Fill tagine with water and bring it to a boil. Carefully crop in the kefta and poach them until cooked through, turning them to make sure they cook on all sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon and dram on paper towels. Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. (This can also be done the night before. Just seal the kefta in a plastic baggie and make sure to keep the liquid as well)
  3. Add the butter to the reserved cooking liquid in the tagine and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the salt and cayenne and drop in the poached kefta. Cook over high heat until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Carefully crack the eggs around the kefta, cover the tagine with a lid, and let the eggs cook in the sauce and steam until they are just set. Sprinkle the cumin and chopped parsley over the top of the dish. Serve immediately.
Serves 4

Recipe for ras-el-hanout:
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • two small pinches saffron
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground mace
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoons ground turmeric
Just combine all the ingredients in a bowl and use as the recipe requires. Many Moroccan dishes call for this spice blend, so save what you have left to use in another dish.


hot garlic said...

Hey Gourmet! You have a great little blog here and I think I'm going to have to take a second peek at the chocolate scones. Heav.En.

As per your question, if I had to guess I'd say hard ball stage. Great question, I should probably amend the posting.

Good luck with your blog, seems {from the dates} that you are a bit newer but I can already tell from what I quickly browsed you are passionate about food and thus that is the first step in being successful as a blogger.

Emily said...

I loooovve Moroccan food. Looks excellent!

Anonymous said...

Hi Aly - Glad you like using the tagine we got you! You are awesome and I only wish we lived closer so I could sample more of your tasty and healthy recipes! Your passion for food is addictive.

Aunt Mary