I have a really hard time following recipes. I get distracted, I estimate, and I improvise. I came across this recipe for Moroccan Meatballs on Leites Culinaria. Nothing was going to stop me from making this dish. It looked and sounded delicious. I also have a slight obsession with using my tagine. I have made and shared quite a few recipes on midEATS, including Chicken with Preserved Lemons, Beef Tagine with Sweet Potatoes, and Shakshouka. Kafta is a main staple in Egyptian cooking, but this recipe called for an entirely new flavor profile that I had never added to my meat before. And the saffron water? Amazing addition.
I promised myself I would follow Paula Wolfert’s recipe to the T. She is after all, the expert on Moroccan cuisine. Despite my pulling out my measuring spoons, and mixing bowls, I got distracted. And I mean super distracted. I was making the kafta in the food processor and it wasn’t binding. Instead, it was quite flaky. I added an egg yolk. Awesome – problem solved.
Then, I was worried about poaching the meatballs with egg as a binder. Would the egg cook entirely? I don’t want my kids getting sick from my kafta. So I consulted Dr. Google. What is this I found? A recipe using tomato sauce and peas in the tagine?! The Egyptian in me could not resist. Tomato sauce cannot be added to enough dishes. I wondered if I would mess up the flavor profile by adding tomato sauce. I found all sorts of kafta tagine recipes, many included adding eggs to the tomato sauce to simmer alongside the beef. STOP! I forced myself to stop the madness. My simple Paula Wolfert meatball dish was quickly about to turn into a complicated dish that I wasn’t intending to make.
I decided to only stray off her recipe by adding the tomato sauce and peas to the dish. I figured dear Paula wouldn’t be too offended by these changes 🙂 The result: pure heaven. The house not only smelled amazing, but my kids couldn’t wait for them to cool off to eat them fast enough. The meatballs were perfectly spiced, a little fiery, but nothing the family couldn’t handle. The saffron water definitely elevated the dish from a simple tomato sauce to an exotic Moroccan dish. And the peas – these didn’t hurt anyone but didn’t add anything to the dish-just basically a simple way to sneak some veggies into the dish. Maybe baby new potatoes next time? with the eggs too? Will have to try this…There I go again…improvising!
Thank you, Morocco, for once again introducing me to an amazing spice combination that will surely become a staple in our house!