Kafta Meatball Tagine

I don’t know about you, but it strikes me as odd that the first time I blog about Kafta, I do a Moroccan version and not a Lebanese version. I’ve just been intrigued about how this would taste ever since I saw a version of it prepared on TV. I recently learned that a “tagine” does not just refer to the clay cooking pot with the cone-shaped lid. It also refers to any type of dish that is classically prepared in it as well.

The only similarity between the Moroccan and Lebanese versions is that ground meat, onion, salt, and pepper are involved. Traditional Lebanese Kafta is made with ground meat, parsley, onion, allspice, salt, and pepper. The allspice and parsley give it a completely different flavor profile from the paprika in this version. And that’s just the meatballs, once you add in the egg it takes it to another level.

As always, I used ground turkey instead of ground beef because it lightens things up…and frankly I prefer the flavor. What’s really cool is that when you add the egg in at the end and mix it in, the yolk gives the sauce a rich creaminess that you wouldn’t even get from adding milk/cream. I chose to serve this with couscous but it would also be really good with pita bread or rice instead.

Oh, and last note, I do not own a tagine so I just prepared this in a pan. You can use a dutch oven, skillet, whatever…as long as it is at least 2 inches deep.

Kafta Meatball “Tagine”

1 lb ground dark turkey or beef
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion finely diced
1/2 tsp sweet paprika (I used Hungarian)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Tomato Sauce
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
28oz can pureed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
4 large eggs


For the meatballs: Combine the ground turkey, olive oil, onions, paprika, salt and pepper together. Roll into 1-inch balls and set aside until needed.

For the sauce: Saute the garlic and onions with the extra-virgin olive oil on low heat in a Dutch oven or deep pan/skillet. Cook until slightly translucent, and then add the parsley, paprika, cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another minute or two. Add the canned tomatoes, turn up the heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes until almost boiling. Place the meatballs on top of the sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Stir the meatballs into the sauce and cook for 30 minutes on low heat. Break the eggs on top of the meat and sauce. Gently stir to break the eggs up into the meat and sauce. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until eggs are cooked, stirring occasionally. Serve with couscous, rice, or pita bread.

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