Saucy North African lamb meatballs? Yup! These are not your grandma’s meatballs, let me tell you! The exotic blend of spices used to make these little gems is amazing. In my family, this is a keeper. The choice of spices is one that is commonly used in North African cuisine. This dish also contains a nice touch: apricots which add a really interesting touch, it was kind of an experiment of sorts on my part. I’ve used apricots before in dishes such as my lamb stew infused with rosewater. I thought, why not use them in my saucy North African lamb meatballs ? By the way, if you are not a fan of lamb, no worries; use beef, or even turkey.
Apricots have a unique flavor and texture. Apricots have been around for about 5,000 years. They are originally from China and by way of traders made their way to India and Tibet. By 60 BCE apricots were known by the Greeks and were later introduced to the Roman Empire. The Spanish explorers brought apricots to the Americas, and for that I am eternally grateful.
The little bit of saffron I used, truly makes this dish. I love the floral quality of saffron, it goes well in so many dishes. Anyhow, I remembered that I had a packet of saffron in my pantry, a gift from a friend of my mother in law. I am so glad I used it.
These tasty saucy North African lamb meatballs can be an appetizer or a main meal when served with a side of basmati, or even regular long grain rice. Don’t let their delicate taste fool you, these saucy lamb meatballs are very hearty, so a perfect dish for the cool weather that has begun to take hold.
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 1 tsp. cumin powder
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- ¼ tsp. paprika
- ¼ tsp. allspice
- 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
- 6-8 chopped mint leaves
- 2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs ( Paleo diet: chickpea flour)
- For the stew:
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1½ cup vegetable broth
- 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
- ¼ tsp. saffron
- 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
- To make the meatballs: Place all the dry spices in a small bowl and blend well. Mix into the meat. Add in the cilantro, mint leaves and breadcrumbs.
- Form lamb into 1" meatballs.
- For the stew: Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven, and saute onions and garlic until translucent. Add in the lamb meatballs and brown lightly.
- Add the vegetable broth, and tomatoes. Bring to a light boil.
- Turn down heat and add parsley, apricots, and saffron. Cook covered for about 25 minutes.
- Serve with rice.