I probably spend more time than your average Joe planning out my meals. This is for two reasons, really. First, as a Dad I want to expose my kids to as many flavors of the world as I can before they're off on their own, so that hopefully they'll continue to search out "real", healthy and ethnically diverse foods when they leave home. Second, as a food blogger I want to offer you, our readers, a wide range of new recipes to try out on your own guinea pigs families. Sometimes I throw meals on my calendar just as a place holder so that I don't forget about a great recipe, and want to be reminded of it so that I don't forget to cook it one day. When I'm in that mode, I often toss meals on my calendar 4-6 weeks in advance of actually cooking them. It can get a little crazy.
This Paula Wolfert dish is one of those meals that has been a resident of my calendar for months now. I first learned of it eons ago and knew I wanted to make it for my gang, but every time we approached it on the calendar something came up (you know how life can get in the way of even the best laid plans, yes?), and the dish kept getting pushed further out on my meal-planning horizon.
Such a shame really, because this dish is drop-dead delicious, so easy to make, and yet exotic enough for even a fancy dinner party. Loaded with middle-eastern spices such as saffron, turmeric, paprika, and cumin, this meal will transport you to Marrakesh with just a taste. I know…I've been there and this dish brought me right back to the food stalls in the bazaar.
It's a well known fact that all carnivores loves meatballs regardless of the meat they're made of, or the sauce they're cooked in. It's a universal thing that should make this dish an instant hit with all the mouths at your table. Enjoy!
Cheers – Steve
Kefta Tagine with Herbs, Spices and Lemon
for the kefta:
- 1 pound ground lamb or beef
- 3 tablespoons crème fraiche or plain greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro
for the sauce:
- 1 medium red onion, grated
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup saffron water (dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of ground saffron threads in hot water)
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 pinches cayenne
- pinch of ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
to make the kefta:
- Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until pasty. Form into 24 olive sized balls. Refrigerate until ready to use.
to make the sauce:
- Set an 11-12 inch tagine (or a dutch oven) on a heat diffuser over medium-low heat. Add the grated onion, butter, saffron water, spices, salt, 3/4 cup of the cilantro, and 1/2 cup of hot water. Slowly raise the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer gently to blend the flavors, about 10 minutes.
- Add the kefta to the sauce and poach, covered for 30 minutes, turning them midway through.
- Add the lemon juice and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer the hot tagine to a wooden surface or a folded towel on a serving plate to prevent cracking. Garnish with the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and serve directly from the tagine pot, with warm slices of toasted bread for mopping up the sauce.