How to Make Moroccan Meatball Tagine (Kefta Mkaouara or Kefta Mkawra)

  • 01 of 08

    What Is Kefta Mkaouara?

    Kefta Mkaouara
    Kefta Mkaouara - Moroccan Meatball Tagine. Photo © J. Gilman

    Kefta Mkaouara – also spelled kefta mkawra – is a delicious and popular Moroccan tagine of meatballs and spicy tomato sauce. Eggs are typically cooked on top of the dish as shown, but these can be omitted.


    The kefta mkaouara – or meatballs – can be made from ground lamb or beef, or a combination of the two. The sauce should be prepared from scratch using fresh, ripe tomatoes.


    The following photos show the traditional preparation of Kefta Mkaouara using this traditional kefta tagine recipe. If you...MORE don't have a tagine, a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid will work fine.


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  • 02 of 08

    Begin by Grating or Chopping the Tomatoes

    Grating Tomatoes
    Seed and Grate the Tomatoes. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    You'll need 2 pounds – about 1 kg – of ripe tomatoes to make the sauce. If you don't have a kitchen scale, that's approximately 9 small tomatoes, 7 medium or 6 large.


    Start by cutting the tomatoes in half and removing the seeds, and then grate them directly into your tagine or skillet. Discard the skin. If you prefer, you can also peel, seed and chop the tomatoes.


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  • 03 of 08

    Season the Tomato Sauce

    Adding Spices, Herbs and Oil to the Tomatoes
    Add Spices, Herbs and Oil to the Tomatoes. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Following the kefta tagine recipe, add the onion, garlic, seasonings, herbs and olive oil to the grated tomatoes.


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  • 04 of 08

    Cook the Tomato Sauce

    Cooking tomato sauce
    Leave the Sauce to Cook While Preparing the Kefta. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Place the tagine or skillet over medium-low to medium heat, cover, and bring the tomato sauce to a simmer. If cooking in a tagine, use a diffuser between the tagine and burner. Be patient – it might take up to 15 minutes for the sauce to reach a simmer in a tagine.


    Once simmering, reduce the heat to the lowest temperature necessary to maintain the simmer. Leave the sauce to cook while you prepare the meatballs.


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  • 05 of 08

    Make the Kefta Meatballs

    Small Meatballs
    Season the Meat and Shape Small Meatballs. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Next, you'll make the kefta meatballs. Use your hands to knead everything together, and then shape the kefta into very small meatballs, about 3/4 inch in diameter.


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  • 06 of 08

    Cook the Meatballs in the Tomato Sauce

    Cooking Kefta Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
    Cook the Kefta Meatballs in the Sauce. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce, along with a little water – 1/4 cup (60 ml) is usually enough, but you can thin the sauce even more if you like – and cover. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the sauce is thick. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.


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  • 07 of 08

    Cook Eggs on Top

    Tagine with eggs
    Add the Eggs to the Tagine. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Break the eggs over the top of the meatballs, and cover. Poach the eggs in the sauce for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are solid and the yolks are partially set.


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  • 08 of 08

    Moroccan Meatball Tagine - Ready to Serve

    Moroccan Kefta Tagine with Eggs
    Moroccan Kefta Tagine with Eggs. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Kefta Mkaouara is traditionally served from the same dish in which it was prepared, with each person using crusty bread to scoop up meatballs from his own side of the dish.