Moroccan meatball tagine with lemon & olives

Moroccan meatball tagine with lemon & olives

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(74 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 40 mins


Serves 4
A wonderfully aromatic North African lamb casserole with a citrus tang - great for dinner parties

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal394
  • fat26g
  • saturates9g
  • carbs11g
  • sugars8g
  • fibre3g
  • protein31g
  • salt1.7g
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  • 3 onions, peeled



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 500g minced lamb
  • zest and juice 1 unwaxed lemon, quartered
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and grated



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • pinch saffron strands



    The stigma of a type of crocus, saffron threads have a pungent and distinctive aroma and flavour…

  • 250ml lamb stock



    A lamb is a sheep that is under 1 year old; between 1 and 2 years old you will find it sold as…

  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 100g pitted black kalamata olive
  • small bunch coriander, chopped
  • couscous or fresh crusty bread, to serve



    Consisting of many tiny granules made from steamed and dried durum wheat, couscous has become a…


  1. Put the onions in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Put the lamb, lemon zest, spices, parsley and half the onions in a large bowl, and season. Using your hands, mix until well combined, then shape into walnut-sized balls.

  2. Heat the oil in a large flameproof dish, or tagine with a lid, then add the remaining onions, ginger, chilli and saffron. Cook for 5 mins until the onion is softened and starting to colour. Add the lemon juice, stock, tomato purée and olives, then bring to the boil. Add the meatballs, one at a time, then reduce the heat, cover with the lid and cook for 20 mins, turning the meatballs a couple of times.

  3. Remove lid, then add the coriander and lemon wedges, tucking them in between the meatballs. Cook, uncovered, for a further 10 mins until the liquid has reduced and thickened slightly. Serve hot with couscous or fresh crusty bread.

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Comments, questions and tips

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22nd Jul, 2020
Delicious recipe and relatively low effort for the level of flavour. I only used the juice of half a lemon and left out the wedges because my other half doesn’t like lemony things. Also upped the cayenne pepper as I like my dishes spicy. Pretty much followed the recipe apart from that and was very pleased with the results
28th Jun, 2020
We loved this. Would say though that prep time was more like an hour by the time everything is chopped, grated etc. Had no fresh chilli so used a half tsp chilli flakes. As has been explained previously you only need 1 lemon. The zest, the juice and then the ‘remains’ of the wedges to add extra flavour. I cooked for quite a bit longer just because I had the time.
tillyfloss80's picture
31st May, 2020
This is amazing! Must admit I was a bit dubious at using 3 onions but it works perfectly. Can’t use my tagine on the oven top so used a frying pan, put the sauce into the tagine when it was ready, added the meatballs and put it in the oven at 180c fan. Left it for half an hour, turned the meatballs, left for another 15mins and then cooked for a further 15mins without the lid on. (All timings are approx. as I was enjoying pimms in the sunshine :-) Served with couscous and crusty bread. Didn’t put the lemon wedges in as the other half isn’t a great fan....forgot the parsley.....somehow lost the ginger.....and accidentally put in some ground coriander but still one of the best dishes I’ve made.
Lydia nichols's picture
Lydia nichols
1st May, 2020
I absolutely love this recipe. At first I thought too many onions were being added, so i took them out; but I later added them back in because I realised that they were necessary. The meatballs cooked well, and it tasted amazing with the lemon slices. However I let it cook for how long the recipe said but there was a bit too little sauce for our liking. Next time I will make the meatballs smaller than suggested so that it cooks quicker and I don't lose so much moisture.
Annie Dickens's picture
Annie Dickens
27th Jan, 2020
Easy to cook and absolutely lovely. The lemons add a real tang to the flavour. Also good is that there is no fruit included like many African recipes. Will definitely make again.
20th Jan, 2020
I can't seem to print any of these recipes anymore - what am i doing wrong?
Jerry (Guangqian) Sun's picture
Jerry (Guangqia...
12th Sep, 2019
so gooood
16th Aug, 2017
Absolutely delicious recipe! I love citrus and this had just the right amount of tang and heat. Couldn't find lamb mince on the day so substituted for beef and beef stock and still worked great. Super!
6th Aug, 2017
The first time I made this I didn't have cayenne pepper and the sauce was a bit runny but I made it again yesterday. I followed the advice and doubled the spice, and only one lemon. I also used a hot red chilli because we like the heat. It was delicious.
31st Aug, 2016
This is a fabulous recipe, really easy to follow and reasonably quick to make. I prepped this and did the first 20min cook ahead of time and then just brought it to the boil about 10-15 mina before serving, tasted great and was stress free entertaining.


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26th Jul, 2020
Lovely recipe, everyone loved it. We served couscous on the side but made it more interesting by adding honey, flat leaf parsley, garden mint, toasted cumin seeds, toasted pine nuts and toasted chickpeas. Complemented the meatballs perfectly.
Dave Yeomans
26th Jan, 2019
First of all I have to say that this was one of THE tastiest things I've ever made in my life!! So I decided not to make the meatballs but cook the tagine as per the instructions in a pot. My method makes for a quick and easy alternative. - 2 cloves of garlic (minced) - 1 deseeded chilli (thinly sliced) - Thumb of ginger (peeled and grated) - Zest of a lemon (quarter and preserve the rest for juicing) - 1 Red onion (minced) - 1 Carrot (sliced) - Handful of coriander (pick the leaves off into a bowl and dice the stems) - Handful of Sultanas (about 60g) - 1 tbsp of Tomato Puree - 2 tbsp Olive Oil - 1 tsp of Cumin - 1 tsp of Cinnamon - 1/4 tsp of Cayenne Powder - 250ml lamb stock - 500g beef meatballs (halve them and re-roll after you've prepped the veg) 1. Get the oil moderately hot then sauté all the veg and sultanas till the onion is translucent - you can add some dried herbs, I had rosemary to hand which compliments the dish very well. After a few minutes add the spices in, stir for a minute or so then squeeze the juice from the lemon wedges in and discard them, add the tomato puree and stock, bump the heat up a little bit and get a steady simmer going. 2. Halve your meatballs and re-roll them, they'll fit in the pan better and are bite size. You can add them to the pan as you go or in batches. Once they're all in, give the contents a gentle stir and cover the pot, (this would be the time to sort your cous cous out...) repeat the process a few times over about 10 minutes or so till the meatballs are cooked through. Take the lid off, if the consistency is watery reduce till sauce-like then stir in the coriander. Take the pan off the heat, you're now ready to serve. I had this amazing tagine with cous cous, greek yoghurt, and a garlic ciabatta. Enjoy!
19th Jan, 2016
Fantastic Recipe! So easy. I discarded the lemon after zesting and juicing it. Instead at the end I cut strips of Preserved Lemon and wedged them in between the meatballs. It was a great flavour - preserving tones down the acidity to add a more mellow flavour. I also served some Natural Yoghurt with it on the side with Couscous. Will definitely make it again!
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