Moroccan Kefta Tagine

I recently purchased my first tagine pot at a local Halal butcher shop.  A tagine, or tajine (a Berber dish named after the pot itself), is a slow-cooked stew that is baked and served in an terra cotta dish with a conical lid. More common to Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, tagine cooking has also become quite popular in western culture in recent years. With the right combination of meats, vegetables, herbs and spices, a good tagine can be quite a pleasing and flavourful variety of comfort food.

Historically, tagine cooking has been influenced and enhanced throughout history in the North African region by the Berbers, the Moors, Arab invasions, The Ottoman Empire, and more.

I decided to make a traditional Moroccan kefta (meatballs) and tomato sauce recipe for my first tagine, and boy did it please. Tangy, spicy flavours and gorgeous texture features prominently in this recipe. Let’s make it shall we?

Moroccan Kefta Tagine.

    • Ingredients for Meatballs (Kefte)
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp red peppers (peperoncini)
  • 2 pinches of Hing (Asafoetida) *optional
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 kg of ground beef
    • Ingredients for Sauce
  • 6 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 shallot
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp red wine
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup parsley

This recipe will make approximately 16 meat-balls.  I am using a small tagine pot, approximately 9″ in diameter so I’ll have half leftover to freeze or make another order with.

Preheat the oven to 400 F / 200 C / Gas Mark 6.

Kefte (Meatballs):

Mix all the ingredients for the kefte from the recipe-card sidebar on the right in a food processor except the ground beef.  Pour the mixed ingredients over the ground beef in a mixing bowl and mix it by hand.  Set aside and make the sauce.


Mix all of the ingredients listed for the sauce from the recipe-card sidebar on the right in a food processor until chunky.  Let stand.


Using some flour in the palm of your hand, roll 7 to 8 meatballs and place them into the tagine pot base approximately 1 cm apart.  Pour the sauce straight from the food processor onto the meatballs and spread it evenly over and around them.  I did not reduce the sauce at all beforehand as I find it reduces well in the cooking process in the tagine pot.

Cover and bake for one hour and serve with a side of coucous or bulgur wheat.

Bon appetit! Good eating to you…

Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions about this recipe below.


  1. Hi! Can you substitute ground chicken instead of beef? I’m worried the meatballs will fall apart if I try using chicken.

    Also, for non-alcoholics, what can I substitute for red wine?


    • Farrell Spence

      Hi Neesh, just use a bit of flour to hold the chicken together and omit the wine… it’s not really necessary, I just love the flavour it adds!

  2. Hello, thank you for this recipe. I have made it and loved it. Even put it in my blog with a link to yours. Here in Portugal we also have some mediterranean cuisine.

    • Farrell Spence

      You’re welcome, Maria! You did a great job. Beautiful photo!

      What Portuguese recipe would you like to see featured on Tavola?

      ~ Farrell

      • Hi Farrell, I don’t have a Tagine pot so I used a brasilian clay pot called Agdá which did a great job.
        We are very well known to eat a lot o fish (we’re the third country in the world in per capita fish consume) and we are also known as soup lovers (even McDonald’s serves soup in Portugal “has begun selling soups at its 115 restaurants in Portugal in a venture which could be repeated in other markets as part of an effort to shrug off its junk food image.”

  3. charlotte

    Looks like a tantalizing combo of spices. Bookmarked!

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