Moroccan Lemon and Cardamom Meatballs 3
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3.39 from 84 votes

Moroccan Lemon and Cardamom Meatballs

Moroccan Lemon and Cardamom Meatballs ~ I can’t imagine a more exciting dinner than a plate of these lemony cardamom spiced lamb meatballs nestled in creamy tahini sauce.  I have a feeling this is going to become your new favorite meal!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Course: dinner
Cuisine: Moroccan
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

for the meatballs

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 medium red onion, very finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • a 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
  • 1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, well beaten
  • a handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh feta cheese, finely crumbled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly toasted and ground cardamom*
  • olive oil for frying

for the sauce

  • 2/3 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • water

garnish

  • pine nuts
  • chopped parsley, cilantro, or mint
  • a sprinkling of smoked paprika, or sumac

Instructions

  • Set oven to 350F
  • Place the lamb, onion, garlic, ginger, bread crumbs, beaten egg, fresh herbs, lemon zest, pine nuts, feta cheese, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt and pepper into a large bowl. Mix everything together using your fingertips. You want to get all the ingredients evenly distributed without compacting the meat.
  • Form walnut sized meatballs from the mixture. You can do this several hours ahead of time if you want, but be sure to cover the meat completely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
  • Cover the bottom of a heavy pan with the olive oil and heat until hot. Work in batches so you don't crowd the pan, and brown the meatballs on all sides. Add more oil as necessary.
  • Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through. (Ground lamb should be cooked to about 160F)
  • Meanwhile make the sauce by mixing the tahini and lemon juice, and then adding enough water to make a thin sauce. Salt it to taste.
  • Serve the meatballs hot from the oven, nestled in the sauce. Garnish with more pine nuts, herbs, and a sprinkling of sumac or paprika.

Notes

  • For those of you who don't eat lamb, you might substitute my TURKEY AND ZUCCHINI MEATBALLS, I think they'd work just as well.
  • If you browse through the comments below you'll see many readers have had success with variations, from chicken to beef, and you can even make this vegan by using your favorite VEGGIE BURGER mix, or FALAFEL.
  • To remove seeds from cardamom pods, lightly crush the pods with a rolling pin to open them. Remove the black seeds and toast in a dry pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes, moving the seeds constantly, until they are fragrant. Then grind them with a spice or coffee grinder.
This recipe is inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi