Lamb Meatball Tagine

I’m not quite sure where I got the inspiration for this – it was one of those lucky experiments. Lamb meatballs are cooked in the bottom of the tagine, in a rich aromatic tomato sauce with sliced peppers and onions layered on top, which means that they turn out meltingly tender. Buttery couscous soaks up that lovely sauce, and a bit of feta crumbled on top is the perfect foil to the rich lamb.

A quick note – I had some delicious Smelly Garlic chutney from the awesome Cheeky Chutneys, which I added to the sauce. I highly recommend it, but if you can’t get any, just add a little more garlic and a teaspoonful of chopped chilli.

Ingredients
For the meatballs:
200g lamb mince
A large handful of breadcrumbs
A small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 tsp ras el hanout
Salt and black pepper
1 egg, white only
For the sauce:
1 fat garlic clove
1 onion
1 tsp Smelly Garlic chutney
2 peppers
Half a tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp ras el hanout
A small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
A pinch of curry powder
Salt and sugar
To serve:
200g couscous
A little butter & salt
Feta to crumble on top

You’ll also need a tagine – if you don’t have one, you could use a small casserole dish, as long as it has a lid.

Serves 2

Start by making the meatballs. In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients (don’t forget to separate the egg – you don’t need the whole thing, or the mixture will be too wet). With clean hands, shape it into six large meatballs. Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan, and then gently fry the meatballs until they’ve just lost their raw pink colour. You’ll need to keep a close eye on them and turn them regularly so they don’t stick. When they’re browned, remove to a plate and set aside.

In the same pan (you don’t need to clean it out), fry the diced onion and garlic. While those are sizzling, deseed the pepper and cut into long thin strips, then add those to the pan with the ras el hanout, coriander, and Smelly Garlic. Fry for a few minutes, until the peppers are starting to soften, and then add the chopped tomatoes, and a pinch each of curry powder, salt and sugar. I always add a pinch of curry powder to tomato sauces because it really makes the flavours sparkle – try it in Spaghetti Bolognese (honestly).

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Let the sauce simmer while the oven is preheating, and then when it’s ready, prepare the tagine. Put the meatballs in the bottom, neatly spaced out, and then spoon the sauce over the top, making sure there’s a nice even layer of peppers and onions on top of the meatballs. Place in the oven for 45 minutes.

Just before you’re ready to serve, prepare the couscous. Pop into a bowl with enough boiling water to just cover, put a plate on top and set aside for a few minutes. When the couscous has absorbed all the water, fluff it up with a fork, then add a little scoop of butter, cover with the couscous and leave to melt. Add a pinch of salt and stir through.


To serve, top a bed of fluffy couscous with the meatballs and sauce, and then crumble feta cheese on top. Wash down with a glass of red wine – yum.