Category Archives: Morocco

Moroccan Lamb Meatball Tajine

Last year I posted a few Moroccan dishes including how to make preserved lemons.  I dipped into my stash of preserved lemons (which are still going well!) to make this tajine that’s bursting with citrus flavors.

I made this in a shallow enamelled cast iron pot, similar to the Le Creuset Buffet Casserole disk that was just the perfect size and served it over a bed of couscous.

Moroccan Lamb Meatball Tajine with Herbs and Lemon adapted from Moroccan Cooking



  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 egg
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) minced or ground lamb or beef
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Herb and Lemon Sauce

  • 1 tbs butter or oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and sliced (or ¼ tsp cayenne pepper)
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbs cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • ½ preserved lemon, optional (but recommended!)


To make the meatballs, process the onion and parsley in a food processor until finely chopped.

Tear the bread into pieces, add to the food processor along with the egg and process for a few seconds.

Add the lamb or beef, cumin, paprika, pepper and 1 tsp salt and process to a thick paste, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally. (Instead of using a food processor you could grate the onion, chop the parsley, crumb the bread and add to the meat in a bowl with the egg, spices and seasoning, then knead until paste-like in consistency)

With moistened hands, shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place them on a tray.  Cover and refrigerate until required.

To make the herb and lemon sauce, heat the butter or oil in a saucepan and add the onion.

Cook over low heat until soft and golden, then add the paprika, turmeric, cumin, and chilli or cayenne pepper and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock and coriander and bring to a boil.

Add the meatballs to the pan and shake the pan to settle them into the sauce.

Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add most of the parsley and lemon juice and season if necessary.

Return to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

If using preserved lemon, rinse well under running water, remove and discard the pulp and cut the rind into thin strips.  Add to the meatballs.

Transfer to a tagine or bowl, scatter with the remaining parsley and serve hot with couscous or crusty bread.


Lamb Tagine with Peas and Lemons (Moroccan Cooking Part 2 of 2)

In my last post I explained how to preserve lemons, which are frequently used in Moroccan cooking.  You were probably wondering why on earth you would go through all that trouble, but this recipe should answer that question – a million times over because the preserved lemons are definitely the hero of the dish and should not be left out.

I’ve adapted this recipe for cooking in a tagine, which causes the lamb to be melt-in-your-mouth tender.  But don’t worry- I’ve still included stovetop directions in case you don’t have a tagine.

This photo:

Lamb Tagine with Peas and Lemons adapted from Moroccan Cooking


  • 1kg  (2lb 4oz) diced lamb
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 235 g (1 ½ cups) peas
  • 2 tsp chopped mint
  • ½ tsp sugar


Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat and brown the lamb in batches, removing to a dish when cooked.  Add more oil if required.

Reduce the heat to low, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft.  Add the garlic, cumin ginger and turmeric and cook for a few seconds.  Add 375 ml (1 ½ cups) water and stir well to lift the browned juices off the base of the pan, then return the lamb to the pan with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.  Add the coriander, parsley and thyme.  Transfer the stew to a tagine.  Bake in a 150 degree oven for 1 ½ hours.

If you don’t have a tajine, you could also just leave the stew in the pot on the stove, cover it and simmer on low heat for 1 ½ hours.

Separate the preserved lemons into quarters and rinse well under cold running water, removing and discarding the pulp.  Cut the rind into very thin strips and add to the lamb, along with the peas, mint and sugar.  Return to the oven (or a simmer if you are cooking it on the stove top for a further 10 minutes, or until the peas are cooked.

Serve hot with cous cous.

Preserved Lemons (Moroccan Cooking Part 1 of 2)

You might not have ever heard of preserved lemons but chances are, if you’ve eaten Moroccan food you’ve probably tasted them before without even knowing it.  Preserved lemons are one of the key ingredients in Moroccan cooking and are in everything from salads to stews cooked in the funny shaped clay ovens called tagines (blog post coming soon!).

I’ve never used any part of the lemon rind in cooking other than the occasional zest, but for Moroccan cooking you actually use whole slivers of the rind of preserved lemons to get a bold lemon flavor.

Making the preserved lemons is the easy part – it’s waiting a month to use them that’s hard!

Preserved Lemons recipe adapted from Cooking Moroccan


  • 1 large sealed jar
  • Enough whole lemons (slightly firm but not too firm) to fill the jar plus 2 more for juice
  • Warm water
  • Salt (2 tbsp for each lemon plus extra for the jar)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Whole peppercorns


Scrub the lemons under warm water with a vegetable brush to remove any wax.

Cut each lemon into quadrants but without cutting all the way through the bottom so that the lemon stays 1 lemon.

Insert 2 tablespoons of salt in each lemon.

Fill the jar with the salted lemons.

Fill the rest of the jar with warm water, the juice of 2 lemons, several more tablespoons of salt, the bay leaf, and a sprinkling of whole peppercorns.

Leave the remains of the 2 juiced lemons at the top of the jar to capture any mold that may grow on top.

Seal the jar and store in a cool dark place for 4 weeks.

For the first week rotate the jar daily to disperse the salt.

After 1 month, you can use 1 lemon per recipe.  Scrape away the insides of the lemon and cut the rind into tiny slivers.

The lemons should keep for up to 6 months.

Stay tuned for a delicious lamb tagine recipe that calls for preserved lemons!

FFwD: Chicken B’stilla

I’ve missed the past 4 weeks of French Fridays with Dorie because I’ve been setting up shop in my new home of Brisbane, Australia.  When I saw the Moroccan B’stilla on the agenda for this week I knew I had to make it!

I love the blend of ginger, cinnamon, and coriander that’s common in Moroccan cuisine and love pies even more (see previous post on Harry’s Cafe de Wheels) so this was a winning combination for me!

I found it somewhat time consuming to make but totally worth it.  The crunch of the almonds and the filo were the perfect contrast to the warm, gooey pie filling, and the spices were present enough to give you a little taste of Morocco without being overwhelming.

It was definitely a posh pie, and we came up with so many possibilities for it while we were eating – from making a large version in a casserole dish and serving it in square slices as an appetizer to making mini party pies.  I already can’t wait to make it again!

As always, I can’t post Dorie’s recipe for the B’stilla but highly encourage you to buy her book Around My French Table to check it out.

I did find a B’stilla recipe from another blogger, The Last Ditch,  who swears that her B’stilla recipe is the best.  I haven’t made hers so I can’t compare it to Dorie’s, but it sounds delicious!  You can find it here.  Regardless of whose recipe you use, I recommend using chicken thigh meat to get the most flavor and not to skip the almonds!  Also, don’t even think about using any other pastry than filo because it won’t do the pie justice.