This is a simple but tasty dish that requires little culinary skill, forethought or preparation time. It is ideal for entertaining visitors or having a quiet night in. It can be quite rich and fatty, though, so it is not one for slimmers. Despite being a Moroccan dish, it has since been modified so that it is now really only nominally 'Moroccan', but it contains lots of cumin, which will suffice for many people.
Precise measurements are not especially relevant, as this dish always works best with a little experimentation.
- Minced lamb
- Half an onion
- Chillies (green and red)
- A lime
- Loads of ground cumin
- Chopped fresh coriander
- Harissa paste1 (optional)
- Passata (sieved tomatoes - tinned chopped tomatoes fortified with tomato purée will do)
- More chillies (chopped)
- More garlic (to taste)
- More cumin
- Soured cream (crème fraîche if you're feeling truly decadent)
To be served with rice, noodles or tagliatelle, depending on what can be found in the larder.
Chop onion, garlic and chillies relatively finely. Retain chilli seeds if you want both meatballs and sauce to be volcanically hot.
Mix lamb, breadcrumbs, lime zest, cumin and coriander with chopped onion, garlic and chillies in a large mixing bowl by hand. Add the squeezed juice of half the lime whilst doing so. Aim for all the ingredients to be thoroughly intermixed and 'compacted', as this will prevent the meatballs falling to pieces later.
Shape the mixed ingredients into small, flattened meatballs and fry in a deep frying pan or wok over a medium heat. The depth of this pan is important, as the sauce will be added to it later.
Once the meatballs are browned on both sides, add the passata (or tomatoes and purée), cumin, chopped chillies, garlic and the juice of the other half of the lime (this is to 'cut through' the fatty juices from the lamb and prevent the sauce seeming too rich).
Leave to simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked through.
Once the sauce has reduced slightly, take it off the heat and stir in the sour cream or crème fraîche. Season with pepper and salt to taste, adding a handful of finely-chopped fresh coriander.