How I adore spices, herbs and food packed with robust flavours, seasonal colours and engaging textures.
For dishes like curries, I am most likely to create my own spice mix than buy a ready mix, because I love the freedom to create my own taste, the sense of originality when creating something from scratch.
When I am in Nigeria, I am most inspired to mix everything from scratch because a lot is readily available at amazing prices, and I become a forager in that green environment. Back in England where food is made easier, I indulge in the best I can find for those lazy days when a spice mix or even a jar of crushed garlic can save the day.
I recently stocked up on my usual favourites like Moroccan ras-el-hanout from Bart in my local Waitrose. My flourishing coriander herbs inspired this dish as I quickly prepared these gorgeous meatballs while chopped tomatoes, onions and garlic simmered down. You can make a big batch of meatballs and freeze them to save time and to make supper even quicker. I added dry pepper from a batch I dried and grounded in Nigeria and this packs a punch to the meat balls. Chopped chillies or bird’s eye chillies will also work with this recipe.
Even if you bake bread like I do, quickie pitta bread to go under the grill is a must have in the freezer and will come in handy as it did for my indulgent but quick Moroccan supper.
Let’s get cooking!
Moroccan Meat balls with Ras-el-hanout & Coriander
Cooking time: 25 mins
For 4 hungry tummies
For the meatballs
- 450g Mince beef (fatty cut)
- 1 medium chopped white onion
- A handful chopped coriander
- A tea spoon Ras-el-hanout
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 tsp ground pepper or a tbs of chopped chillies
- 4 tbsp brown bread crumbs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium white onion
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 400g chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp ras-el-hanout
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tbs chopped coriander
- 200ml beef or vegetable stock
1. Get the tomato sauce going by placing a large frying pan on medium heat. Fry the onions, and garlic for two minutes and then add chopped tomatoes and stir. Add the pepper, chopped coriander, and if using tomatoes from a can, use less stock depending on the water content of the tomatoes. If you do not have ready prepared stock, mix two small square stock cubes or one large rectangular cube with 200 ml of water. Cover and leave to simmer for 10 minutes while you prepare the meatballs to be added to it.
2. In a large bowl gently mix the mince meat with all the ingredients listed except the oil. Avoid lean meat as a good amount of fat in your mince will produce moist and flavourful meatballs. Keep a bowl of flour handy to dust onto your palms in order to roll the meat balls and avoid extreme stickiness.
3. Use a small spoon to scoop the mixture, place into the palm of your flour dusted palm and role into a ball using both palms. If you would rather avoid the sticky meat-filled palms, place a clean polythene bag on one palm, using the other hand, repeat the scooping process, this time into the bag. Twist the bag to form a nice and neat ball, release the ball into a plate set aside.
4. Don’t forget the tomato sauce simmering away. Stir frequently and add more stock to prevent the sauce from drying out.
5. Place a frying pan on medium heat. Once hot, fry the meatballs for five minutes, turning all sides after a few minutes. The aim of frying the meat balls is to brown it and not to cook it completely.
6. Once browned, turn the meat balls into the tomato sauce. Stir gently to make sure all the meatballs are coated. Cover and reduce the heat to finish off the sauce for another 10 minutes.
7. Lightly splash water on to the ready-made pitta bread to stop it from drying excessively under the grill. Grill for 2 minutes on either side or warm in the oven at 240 °C for 5 minutes on each side.
8. Serve your Moroccan meatballs on or beside the pitta with more coriander to garnish. You can enjoy this in so many different ways. Try spreading cream cheese with garlic onto the pitta bread for a refreshing combination.
Make this recipe yours and share with me and other food lovers here or on social media.