Algerian cuisine is a sauce driven cuisine.
Lunch is often a fresh salad made from market fresh vegetables and a citrus and olive oil dressing or vinaigrette. The acid in the dressing makes the vegetables release their juices. Plenty of khobz or kesra (bread) is served to mop up all the good flavor.
And we tend to like our tagines with plenty of sauce for spooning over couscous and dipping with bread or even fried potatoes.
The inaugural dish for Inter(National) Tagine month is for my friend Marlena Spieler who posted this morning about meatballs on twitter. So, I told her that if she likes meatballs, she will love kefta (meatball) tagine. I'm going use the earthier, hotter spices characteristic of Eastern Algerian cooking, because Marlena likes big and bold flavors!
This kefta can be served with fried potato wedges or French fries. Optional garnish for the potatoes is finely minced garlic, finely chopped flat leaf parsely or cilantro and grated parmesan cheese. (Algerians like fried potatoes and parmesan cheese). You can also serve kefta tagine with bread or pasta. If you can't find North African khobz or kesra where you live, ciabatta, baguette, or barbari bread are good options. Pasta can be the more traditional fidwash (fideos) or spaghetti,
- For the keftas
- olive oil for sauteeing
- 1lb 6oz ground lamb or beef
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp hot paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
- For the sauce:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- ½ tsp cayenne or 1 tsp harissa
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preparation methods:
- For the kefta
- Place the ground meat, garlic, spices, hebrs and seasoning into a bowl and mix until combined, do not overmix.
- Shape the mixture into approximately 30 meatballs (kefta)
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a flameware tagine or casserole over medium high heat and fry the kefta in batches until golden brown allover. (Traditionally, the kefta would not be browned, but for this recipe, I prefer to brown for color and flavor). Reserve browned kefta in a bowl.
- For the sauce:
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a flameware tagine or casserole and fry the shallots and garlic 6-8 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the tomatoes, spices, salt and pepper to taste and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
- Add the meatballs and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.