Spicy meatballs

Moroccan Spicy Meatballs Tajine Recipe

Spicy Meatballs

Spicy meatballs

Meatballs are our Sephardi answer to hamburgers. You didn’t think we would let ourselves get outdone, did you?

In this dish, chicken livers, chicken breasts and lamb get equal time; the finished dish is above and beyond the sum of its parts. The spices in the cooking liquid reduce to a delightful sauce. Try a spicy meatballs sandwich!

Spicy Meatballs: Our Comfort Food

I always loved this Moroccan tajine we grew up with: In the finished dish the chicken breasts were diced, the chicken livers were whole and the lamb was shaped into meatballs. I made it, and it was quite delicious but a little messy. When I recently asked my mother how she kept every item so neat and presentable, her “secret” was just too time consuming. Next time around, I ground the broiled chicken livers, the chicken breasts and the lamb. Then I made spicy meatballs with the whole ground mixture. Sure enough, I found making the dish this way much more accessible and much lower maintenance, and every bit as good.

Chicken Livers

They are not for chopped liver only (don’t get me wrong: I LOVE chopped liver!)
You can save time by buying the chicken livers broiled: make sure they are broiled properly, not all dried out: We want them tender and creamy, so you gotta treat them with care and broil them gently.

Moroccan Spice Mix

You will come across the cumin-cinnamon-red pepper flakes  quite often in our Moroccan tajines, soups, condiments and salads.

Secret of Fluffy Meatballs

No flour or breadcrumbs. Add parsley or other herbs, onion etc to your mixture PLUS warm water, or seltzer. It keeps them light and fluffy and delicious


Cooking liquid

  • 4 cups water
  •  1 tablespoon  turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons paprika


Meatball Mixture

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound chicken cutlets (boneless dark OK too)
  • 1 pound broiled chicken livers
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 6 sprigs flat parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 4 sprigs cilantro, leaves only
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 good pinches red pepper flakes, a little more if you like it hotter
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon


Bring the cooking liquid ingredients to boil in a wide heavy pot.

Process all meatballs ingredients until smooth. Transfer the ground mixture to a bowl. Form meatballs, and throw in the hot liquid as you shape them, using up the whole mixture. Reduce the flame to medium, and cook covered 30 minutes.
Check the liquid in the pot: If it is too thin, reduce on a high flame until thickened to the consistency of maple syrup. Transfer the meatballs and their sauce to a platter. Sprinkle with minced parsley. Serve hot. Makes 8 servings

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