Recipe: Tagine Kefta 'Mchermel - Meatballs with herbs and lemon


  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
  • 2 slices whitebread
  • 1 egg
  • 500g minced lamb or beef (I used beef)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

Herb and lemon sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 finely chopped brown onion
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tumeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and sliced or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 375ml (1 1/2 cups) chicken stock (plus a little more if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 preserved lemon

  1. Put the onions and parsley in the food processor bowl and process until finely chopped.
  2. Tear the bread into pieces and add to the bowl with the egg and process briefly.
  3. Add the meat, cumin, paprika, black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.
  4. Process to a thick paste, scraping down the side of the bowl occassionally.
  5. Alternatively grate the onion, chop the parsley, crumb the bread and add to the mince in the bowl with egg, spices and seasoning. Knead until combined.
  6. With moistened hands, shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place them on a tray.
  7. Cover and refrigerate until required.
  8. To make the herb and lemon sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion.
  9. Cook over low heat for 8 minutes until softened.
  10. Add the paprika, tumeric, cumin and chilli/cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  11. Add the stock and coriander and bring to the boil.
  12. Add the meatballs, shaking the pan so that they settle into the sauce.
  13. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  14. Add most of the parsley and the lemon juice and season if necessary.
  15. Return to the simmer for 2 minutes.
  16. Rinse the preserved lemon under running water, remove and discard the pulp and membrane. Cut the rind into strips.
  17. Add the preserved lemon to the meatballs.
  18. Cook for a few more minutes and then transfer to a tagine or bowl. Scatter with the remaining parsley.


  1. Hi, I have the same recipe in my 'The food of Morocco' cookbook. I'm planning to make it for a party soon....I was wondering how it tasted before I subject my friends to my experiment :)

  2. I wasn't sure of the texture of the meatballs due to not browning them, am going to try the other way next time. Apart from that they were very tasty, I liked how the sauce reduced down to almost a glaze.