In my country saffron is a very expensive spice. If you replace it with curcuma, tagine will stay tasty. I’ve tried both types, so I can assure you that curcuma-lemon sauce is not worse. Also I’ve tried to replace beef with pork and the result was good too. But it will be not a Moroccan cuisine but Russian-Moroccan fusion.
Ingredients for kefta:
- 850 g of beef, lamb or turkey
- 1 onion bulb (80-100 g)
- 5 g of finely chopped parsley (2 tbsp)
- 5 g of finely chopped cilantro (2 tbsp)
- 1 tsp of paprika powder
- 2 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tsp of salt
- 0,5 tsp of each: cinnamon and chili
- 80 g of butter
- 1 onion bulb (120-150 g)
- 8 g of finely chopped parsley (2-3 tbsp) – optional
- 15 g of finely chopped cilantro (5 tbsp)
- 1/8 tsp (0,6g) of ground saffron threads
- 0,5 tsp of each: ginger, paprika, cumin, curcuma
- 0,5 tsp of cinnamon – optional
- 1/4 tsp of black pepper
- 150 ml of water or chicken/beef broth
- 1 tsp of salt
- Squeeze juice from 1/3 of a big lemon or less (up to your taste)
Make minced meat from the list of ingredients for kefta. Form meatballs from minced meat (diameter up to 3 cm, smaller meatballs take more time). Cover with kefta ant put aside.
Add butter, chopped onion, herbs and spices (no salt) to a frying pan (or tajine). Bring ingredients to boil, cover the pan and simmer for 10 min. Put salt and water (broth), stir a little, cover the pan and cook for another 10 min.
Add kefta, cover and cook at the medium heat 8-10 min. Pour lemon juice all over it. Cook ~2 min. until meatballs are cooked through. Avoid overcooking, they may become too dry inside.
Tagine kefta is served with traditional Moroccan bread khobz. It is very convenient to collect the remains of sauce with bread. You may bake khobz or just buy any other freshly baked white bread.
If all meatballs can not fit your pan at once (I mean otherwise they won’t be covered with sauce) – add the first portion, when the side covered with sauce has changed the color, turn meatballs upside down, wait a few seconds and set them aside or put them on each other. Add the next portion to the freed space on a pan. Repeat if necessary.
Set timer to 10 min. since you’ve loaded the first portion. It’s better to undercook kefta than to overcook it. Anyway if you taste meatballs and they would seem undercooked, you can easily put them back, bring to a boil and wait another 2 min.