Marrakech Meatballs

Another from Josceline Dimbleby’s Cooking with Herbs and Spices – this time savoury:

Says Josceline –

One of my favourite Moroccan dishes is these simple meatballs, which are served with eggs lightly cooked in the same dish at the last moment. The taste when the egg yolk breaks into the spiced meat and juices is quite delicious.

Marrakech Meatballs

3/4lb minced lamb or beef

25g ground rice or semolina

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped finely

1 beaten egg

50g butter or margarine

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 teaspoon paprika

150ml water

4 eggs

salt, black pepper

Pound the meat with a wooden spoon or blunt ended rolling pin in a bowl to make it as soft and smooth as you can. Add the ground rice or semolina, cinnamon, garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and black pepper. Bind the mixture together with the beaten egg. With wet hands form the mixture into small balls about the size of a marble.

Melt the butter or margarine in a pan and fry the meatballs until just browned all over. Transfer them to a fairly wide, shallow oven proof dish or a small roasting pan and pour the fat over them. Mix the tomato puree and paprike with the water, season with salt and pepper and pour over the meatballs.

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 4/ 350°F]/ 180°C. Cover the dish with foil or a lid and cook in the centre of the oven for 40-45 minutes. Then break the eggs into the dish, spaced out among the meatballs. Cover the dish again and put back in the oven for 8-10 minutes, only until the whites of the eggs have just set (if you make this dish in advance, keep it warm at a low heat, then add the eggs and turn up the heat again to cook them just before you are going to eat, to ensure the yolks are still nice and runny. Serve with long grain rice and a salad.


civers 007


  • For a book centred around herbs and spices Josceline is rather cautious in her seasoning. As my dining companion The Brunette noted ‘it tastes a little too much like meat’. There was no real flavour aside from lambiness, and it was kind of nasty.
  • The meatballs were very tough and over-baked in the time given.
  • The sauce the meatballs cook in is just water and puree, and not much of it either. It had completely evaporated by the end of the cooking, hence the toughness of the meatballs.
  • The amount of butter used to brown the meatballs is excessive. They were swimming in a pool of grease.
  • The egg was ok.


This is a dreadful recipe, and no one should attempt it. The taste is bland, and a bit gross, the texture is greasy and cloying, and they’re just generally awful, and will repeat on you.  Save your gullet for better things!

2 responses to “Marrakech Meatballs

  1. Oh dear… just, oh dear.

    I don’t understand this dish! Why so much cinnamon? Why semolina or ground rice?

    The egg, however, does indeed sound OK.

  2. I’ve been making this recipe for years; it’s a family favourite. What did you do wrong?