mindy and i were in sonoma, california a couple of years ago and were wandering around the picturesque downtown square and came across this store selling nothing but tagines. we looked around and found one or two we liked, but decided that since i'm a potter, i would try to make one. i never actually got to that before setting clay aside to work on the other projects. but while we didn't buy the tagine, we did pick up a great moroccan cookbook.
the other night mindy and i opened the book for the first time (i know, shame on us, but we tend to do that: buy a book and let it rest on the shelf for a while). we discovered upon opening it up and flipping through it that it was signed by the author. HA! what a find. and we didn't even know it. but it is a great book, filled with recipes for fragrant, belly-warming dishes.
so i ventured into making one of the dishes i often order when we go out, kefta. kefta is a ground beef/lamb/spice mixture that is so fragrantly delicious that just prepping the dish was making me salivate. i didn't use lamb in my kefta (lamb is a bit pricey and mindy hates the gamey flavor), just ground beef. however it is important to note that there MUST be a good amount fat in the meat. in fact, next time i make this i think i'm going to use a bit of pork in the meat mix (as opposed to lamb) for its fat content. but this is certainly a healthier version. the egg on top is a an important part of this recipe too. don't skip it. though it may seem a bit weird to our western appetites, the egg yolk adds this really balancing flavor to all the acidity in the tomatoes.
mindy typically gives me the frowny face when i order kefta, because all that fragrant spice, turns into some of the most rancid post-dinner burps ever. we did find that with making the dish at home, using good oils to cook with, the burps weren't quite so offensive. but it may just be me and my stomach that makes such an awful after-stink. :)
(From the book Couscous and other Good Food from Morocco, by Paula Wolfert)
1lb ground beef or lamb, or a mixture of the two
1 small onion, chopped finely
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley and cilantro
1/4 tsp dried mint or 1/2 tbsp freshly chopped mint
large pinch of dried marjoram
large pinch of Ras El Hanout (if you can find it)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small bunch parsley, chopped
1 (15oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 (6oz) can of tomato sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Combine all the ingredients for the kefta. Form into 1-in balls and brown in the oil on all sides.
Remove from pan and set aside, covered.
Add remaining ingredients, except for the eggs, to the pan.
Cook, uncovered, 30 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to a thick gravy.
Return the kefta to the sauce and continue cooking together for 10 minutes.
Carefully break the eggs into the sauce and poach them until set.
Serve at once, directly from pan.