How to Make Moroccan Meatball Tagine (Kefta Mkaouara)

This dish of meatballs in tomato sauce is easy to make

Kefta mkaouara tagine with meatballs, eggs, and spicy tomato sauce

The Spruce / J. Gilman

Kefta mkaouara, also spelled kefta mkawra, is a delicious and popular Moroccan tagine of meatballs and spicy tomato sauce. Eggs are typically cooked on top of the dish, but these can be omitted. The meatballs can be made from ground lamb or beef, or a combination of the two. The sauce should be prepared from scratch using fresh, ripe tomatoes.

This classic preparation of kefta mkaouara uses a traditional kefta tagine recipe. If you don't have a tagine, a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid will work fine.

  • 01 of 08

    What You Need

    Ingredients for tomato sauce

    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

    To make this tagine, you will need several ingredients for the tomato sauce and the meatballs. The sauce includes tomatoes, onions, garlic, and seasonings, and the meatballs are made of ground beef or lamb, onion, green pepper, eggs, and similar seasonings. Follow the ingredient list in the kefta tagine recipe, which will make four servings.

    This recipe uses 2 pounds (about 1 killogram) of ripe tomatoes to make the sauce. If you don't have a kitchen scale, use approximately nine small tomatoes, seven medium, or 6 large.

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  • 02 of 08

    Grate or Chop the Tomatoes

    Grating tomatoes over a tagine
    The Spruce / Christine Benlafquih

    Start by cutting the tomatoes in half and removing the seeds, and then grate them directly into your tagine or skillet. Discard the skin. If you prefer, you can also peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes.

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  • 03 of 08

    Season the Tomato Sauce

    Adding spices, herbs and oil to the tomatoes
    The Spruce / Christine Benlafquih

    Add the onion, garlic, seasonings, herbs, and olive oil to the grated tomatoes.

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  • 04 of 08

    Cook the Tomato Sauce

    Cooking tomato sauce in a tagine
    The Spruce / Christine Benlafquih

    Place the tagine or skillet over medium-low to medium heat, cover, and bring the tomato sauce to a simmer. If cooking in a tagine, use a diffuser between the tagine and burner. Be patient—it might take up to 15 minutes for the sauce to reach a simmer in a tagine.

    Once simmering, reduce the heat to the lowest temperature necessary to maintain the simmer. Leave the sauce to cook while you prepare the meatballs.

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  • 05 of 08

    Make the Kefta Meatballs

    Small Meatballs, seasoned and shaped
    The Spruce / Christine Benlafquih

    Next, you'll make the kefta meatballs. Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and use your hands to knead everything together. Then shape the kefta into very small meatballs, about 3/4 inch in diameter.

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  • 06 of 08

    Cook the Meatballs in the Tomato Sauce

    Cooking Kefta meatballs in tomato sauce
    The Spruce / Christine Benlafquih

    Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce along with a little water; 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) is usually enough, but you can thin the sauce even more if you like. Cover the tagine and cook for about 40 minutes, or until the sauce is thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

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  • 07 of 08

    Add the Eggs on Top

    Tagine with eggs
    The Spruce / Christine Benlafquih

    Break the eggs over the top of the meatballs and cover the pot. Poach the eggs in the sauce for five to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are solid and the yolks are partially set.

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  • 08 of 08

    Serve the Moroccan Meatball Tagine

    Moroccan Kefta tagine with eggs, ready to serve
    The Spruce / Christine Benlafquih

    Kefta mkaouara is traditionally served from the same dish in which it was prepared, with each person using crusty bread to scoop up meatballs from their side of the dish.