Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Kofta Tagine (Sabshuka)

This was my very first attempt at cooking this middle eastern dish. So I do get a little anxious on the overall result.

I went through the recipe many times before I even started making the kofta (meatballs). Why I am anxious about cooking this dish was because I've never tried this (the original dish). I've heard of it for almost 9 years now but never tasted it.

Of course there are food stalls that sell this. And we do have a few good middle eastern restaurants here but whenever I dine at a middle eastern restaurant, I'd order something else like mixed kebabs where I get 3 different types of meat in one dish. Then I'd get full and didn't order something else.

I remember buying the so-called Sabshuka at a food bazaar, and I didn't like it at all. It was so full of tomato ketchup (sauce), no meat, just onions & yeah I did get the sunny-side-up egg (that's the trademark).

For first-timer like me, that first taste sure left an impression on the Sabshuka (by no fault of its original recipe). The cook should be responsible enough to be able to cook as per the original dish. Don't create something else and let people think that the dish is horrible. Bad publicity for the Sabshuka aka Kofta Tagine, really.

Well the original plan was to learn this from my MIL but I never got round it. So I learned the hard way - going through middle eastern recipes. As for the taste I leave it in the good tastebud of dearest hubby.

Traditionally this dish should be cooked in a tajine slaoui (an earthenware cooking pot with a 'chimney'). This is to allow condensation to take place in the earthenware and 'juices' from food to 'recycle'. Thus you don't need to add more water for your stew. Plus, your food will be tastier. In short, it's a traditional pressure cooker.

Tajine Slaoui

To make the kofta:

400-450g ground mutton (or beef)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tblsp Italian parsley, finely chopped
3 tblsp cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tblsp oil

1) Put the meat, onion, garlic, herbs and spices in a bowl and mix. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

2) Roll the meat into a ball until all has been used up.

3) Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

4) Fry the meatballs in batches. Cook, turning occassionally, for 8-10 minutes or until browned all over. Remove the meatballs and set aside in a bowl.

To make the sauce:

3 tblp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 can (14 oz) chopped tomatoes
2 tsp cayenne pepper (original recipe uses "Harissa")
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
4 eggs

1) Heat oil in the frying pan. Fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon and paprika and cook until fragrant.

2) Stir in the tomato and cayenne pepper (harissa) and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

3) Add the meatballs, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro.

4) Transfer the meatball sauce into a shallow ovenproof dish. Add the eggs and cook in a preheated oven until the eggs are set.

5) Season and serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices.

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