Moroccan La La Land: Kefta With Eggs And Tomato For Brunch.

September 26th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

The challenge continues in Morocco, where I’ve mentally traveled the past few days.  As a lucky contender still kicking my way through Project Food Blog, I’m now asked to “tackle a classic dish from another culture” that’s “outside [my] comfort zone” — I can’t wait!  I’m excited to advance to Challenge #2.  Thank you judges, voters, God, family and friends.

During international cookbook immersion, a spark ignited for Kefta with Eggs and Tomato.  I had sought to find a dish we really wanted to eat, one that had unique ingredients, yet not a ridiculous amount, and one that didn’t take too long to make, and it had to be colorful — I initially thought about Rogan Josh, but it didn’t pass the color test.  Another time for that.  Selecting an “ethnic classic” I wasn’t familiar with led me on a journey, as the prompt likely intended.  Before understanding my chosen dish, I thought I’d be dining in the Middle East, then came to realize that I’d actually be in North Africa, most specifically Morocco having the pictured Kefta with Eggs and Tomato for supper with Moroccan friends.  It’s also a classic brunch dish and it’s served as a snack at bus and train stations in between both destinations.

Kefta with Eggs and Tomato (with Ras El Hanout) is pin-pointedly Moroccan and satisfies all self-imposed and set standards of this challenge.  What’s Ras El Hanout?  Last week I had no clue and I’m still not sure how to pronounce it, but now know what it is.  After calling all over town to purchase it off the shelf, I learned one jar was available 40 miles away.  At that moment I realized that it wasn’t necessary to drive there, since [it] is a somewhat subjective spice — Meaning Ras El Hanout is not one spice.  It’s sold in countless spice variations. 

In Arabic, Ras El Hanout means “top of the shop” and refers to the best spices a seller has to offer.  It usually contains no less than a dozen spices and sometimes up to a hundred.  It’s also believed to be an aphrodisiac.  Does it mean that each Ras El Hanout combination magically morphs into an aphrodisiac?  I’m not sure about that, but it’s fun to wonder about.  Since I had all ingredients on hand, I made my own Ras El Hanout to find out.  I found several recipes on the web and chose one that sounded best to me.  I halved the recipe and added two ingredients that were common in similar recipes.  Nibbles of Tidbits’ Ras El Hanout Recipe is posted here:

1 Teaspoon of Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Ginger
1 Teaspoon of Turmeric
1 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon of Allspice
1/2 Teaspoon of Coriander
1/2 Teaspoon of Red Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon of Saffron Threads
1/2 Teaspoon of Cardamom
1/4 Teaspoon of Cloves
1/8 Teaspoon of Nutmeg
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon

Toast and grind spices if whole, then combine all and keep in an airtight container.  I reused a saved spice jar and slapped a new label over it. 

Kefta is basically ground meat, most commonly Lamb and/or Beef that’s mixed with a variety of herbs and spices — It’s then formed into balls, sticks or loaves, and grilled, fried or baked, etc.  The recipe made here is based on one from The African and Middle Eastern Cookbook (pg. 103).  I stayed true to authenticity, yet made it a little tastier by caramelizing the Onions before adding them to the Meatball mixture, and easier by baking them instead of frying ’em.  In addition, I added Garlic, as seen in many Moroccan Kefta recipes, and I used fresh Tomatoes instead of canned.  Nibbles of Tidbits’ Kefta with Eggs and Tomato Recipe is posted here:

1 lb. of Ground Lamb
1 small chopped Sweet Onion
1 Cup of Bread Crumbs
4 – 5 Eggs
1 large minced Garlic Clove
6 large fresh chopped Tomatoes
2 + 1 Teaspoon(s) of Ras El Hanout
1/4 Cup of chopped fresh Cilantro
1/2 Cup of Water* (1/4 + 1/4)
Flat Leaf Parsley (chopped), a little for Sauce and garnish
Salt and freshly ground Pepper
Olive Oil for baking sheet and Onion sauté

Sauté Onion until caramelized.  Add Garlic, cook two minutes longer and set aside.  Combine the Lamb, Bread Crumbs, 1 Egg, Ras El Hanout (2 tsps.), Onions and Garlic, Cilantro and S & P.  Mix together well, then add Water, 1/4 cup at a time until incorporated.  Form into medium sized Meatballs and bake in a preheated 400° oven for 25 – 30 minutes.  

* Adding Water or Milk to a Meatball recipe lightens them up, whereas they cut like butta.  There’s no reason for a Meatball to be tough, unless you’re a biker named One Tough Meatball.

To make the Sauce, combine the Tomatoes, Sugar, reserved Ras El Hanout (1 tsp.) and a handful of Flat Leaf Parsley.  Simmer until reduced, then add the baked Meatballs to the Sauce.  Form 3 – 4 wells for the Eggs.  Crack ’em directly into the skillet, cover and cook until Eggs are set.  Serve straight from the skillet with Crusty Bread.

For continued authenticity, we served the Kefta with Sweet Mint Green Tea, Orange Juice and Olives, popular beverages and a snack in Morocco.  I properly mixed the Tea too.

Kefta with Eggs and Tomato turned out to be a flavorful, hearty and beautiful dish.  For this challenge, I read 15 – 20 recipes to create an adaptation that kept the dish authentic, yet made it easier to prepare and better to eat.  I can’t help it — It’s all I know. 🙂

Could this post be worthy of (1) of your (200) votes?  I hope so!  I’m exhausted, yet still wanting to line up standby guests for the Discovery Dinner Party, in the event there’s reason to celebrate.  My brain is on the last flight back from Morocco.

You may VOTE FOR ME here.

  1. September 30th, 2010 at 08:30 | #1

    Look at all those stage by stage photos! You certainly earned your vote from me. Looks delicious.

  2. 1/2Italianchic
    September 28th, 2010 at 21:49 | #2

    It has been so long since I have visited Morocco! I love the food and was excited to see this authentic dish come to life! So many ingredients! Count me in if you need someone to come to a “Discovery Dinner Party”! Even though, you don’t know me, I would love to taste the dish!:) You have my vote!

  3. September 28th, 2010 at 19:28 | #3

    Wow, that’s an amazing looking recipe. You did a great job, both of cataloging it through photography and explaining your way through the whole thing. Beautiful.

  4. September 28th, 2010 at 15:16 | #4

    I love lamb, and this looks great! You got our vote!

  5. September 28th, 2010 at 01:03 | #5

    It is a crazy long list — When I set out to make the dish I thought I had to find ‘one’ spice, Ras El Hanout, but ‘it’ turned out to be several spices in one. I was already excited about the dish, and thus was determined to make it no matter what. And it was pretty cool to make my own spice blend and amateur label. 🙂

  6. September 27th, 2010 at 22:55 | #6

    That is a crazy long list of spices! It looks like it turned out great!
    I voted for you – Good Luck.

  7. September 27th, 2010 at 17:26 | #7

    Nice entry…good luck!

  8. September 27th, 2010 at 13:28 | #8

    Wow that looks wonderful!!! I bet it tasted as good as it looks. Nice use of homemade ingredients.

  9. September 27th, 2010 at 10:24 | #9

    this is definitely something i would love, i’m going to have to try it!! great entry 🙂

  10. September 27th, 2010 at 09:10 | #10

    Oh My! Looks so good. I went Moroccan too and it was lots of fun. You got my vote.

  11. September 26th, 2010 at 20:21 | #11

    Looks delicious and I bet it smelled good too!! Good luck in the challenge.

  12. September 26th, 2010 at 14:06 | #12

    Love your apron! And I am a huge fan of eggs poached in tomatoes so this recipe is right up my alley! Thank you!

  1. September 27th, 2010 at 16:41 | #1
  2. April 21st, 2011 at 23:51 | #2

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