Moroccan Lamb Meatballs
Flavored with fragrant spices and fresh mint, our Moroccan lamb meatballs in tomato sauce make a delicious change from their Italian cousins.
Moroccan cuisine is known worldwide for its complex flavors and iconic dishes. Located on the northwest coast of Africa, the country draws culinary inspiration from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines in addition to those of its native continent.
Our lamb meatballs use a few traditional spices and fresh mint leaves to give them a distinctive Moroccan flavor profile. The accompanying tomato sauce is delicious served over couscous or rice and repeats a couple the spices used in the meatballs, pulling all the flavors together perfectly.
We generally serve these meatballs for dinner, but they can be made smaller and served as an appetizer, using the tomato sauce for dipping.
A word about Moroccan cuisine:
Traditional Moroccan cooking uses a wide variety of spices to create unique, multi-layered flavors and aromas. Here’s a list of some of the spices you may want to have on hand if you want to give some Moroccan recipes a try.
- Ground ginger
- Black pepper
Alternatively, you could purchase a spice blend called ras el hanout, an Arabic term that means “head of the shop” or “top shelf.”
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons panko crumbs
- 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the tomato sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
- 2 cups diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Combine the lamb, egg, garlic, panko, mint, parsley, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Form the mixture into 16 to 18 meatballs about 1-1/4-inches in diameter.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 3 minutes total. Transfer the meatballs to a plate, drain the excess fat from the pan and return it to the stove.
- To make the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, 1 minute longer.
- Stir in the tomatoes. Add a 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and coriander and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, then taste again and adjust the spices as desired.
- Return the meatballs to the pan and turn several times to coat them with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly until the meatballs are cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a serving dish, garnish with parsley and serve with steamed white rice.