I have eaten amazing foods from all parts of the Mediterranean, including spinach pies made by villagers in Crete, Tortilla Espanola eaten at a street cart in Spain, and chocolate croissants in France. But regardless of how many different cuisines and recipes I have tried, Tagine Kefta remains in my top five list of Mediterranean favorites. This dish is also known as Spiced Moroccan Meatballs and Veggies. Kefta, (or Kofta) is a meatball, usually made of lamb or beef, that is eaten in most Mediterranean countries and is a staple of the diet. The spices are what give this recipe its unique Moroccan flair. The mix of fresh cilantro with cumin, chili powder, and paprika impart a delicious savory flavor. Some Moroccan Kefta recipes also call for cinnamon and nutmeg.
This recipe comes from our friend Hafid Assab who hails from Morocco and owns the wildly popular Mosaic Cafe in our hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts. Almost everyone who works there knows me by name as I eat there at least twice a week!
Don’t let the long list of ingredients (mostly spices) fool you into thinking that this is a difficult recipe. It consists of chopping veggies, making meatballs, and then mixing everything together and letting it stew. Even though this recipe calls for a Dutch oven, you can cook it on the stovetop with any heavy pot with a good tight cover. I have also made this recipe many times in the crockpot.
Cook the meatballs for a few minutes in a frying pan with olive oil. This helps create a crust that holds them together when cooking in the crockpot for such a long time.
Add the meatballs and the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot and cook on high for four hours.
Mix all Kefta ingredients well with your hands until well combined.
Make ping pong sized meatballs (around 1")
Next start with the Main Ingredients:
In a thick pot, add ½ cup olive oil.
Saute onions until soft and then add 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1 ½ teaspoons chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon chili powder, 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Saute for 5 minutes.
Add Kefta balls to middle of pot. Add rest of vegetables around kefta.
Add all vegetables except for green beans and green peas.. Cover tightly and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add green beans and green peas. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Make sure it is still moist. (add a little water if needed).
Hafid Assab hails from Morocco and owns and runs the popular Mosaic Restaurant in Northampton, Massachusetts. His restaurant is a fusion of traditional Moroccan cuisine and other Mediterranean influences.