Kefta Mkaouara (Meatball Tagine)

Kefta Mkaouara - donea curvy moroccan

Since it’s been so long between posts here, I figured I’d give you all a two for one. So this is a restaurant review and a recipe all rolled into one.

So recently while dining with a dear friend in Subiaco we ventured into Meeka. It’s a relatively new restaurant, having been around for a year or so now, down the not so business end of Subiaco’s Rokeby Road. The menu is middle eastern in appearance, with a hat tip towards Morocco, serving a number of classic Morrocan dishes and a series of tagines.

Unfortunately the names of the dishes on the menu were about as close as Meeka got to ever giving us a North African experience. We ordered a chicken pastilla (bastilla, bisteeya, b’stilla – take your pick), and a meatball tagine. Some Israeli couscous as a side dish and a bottle of wine.

Sadly the chicken in the pastilla was dry to the point inedibility. We picked at it like disinterested vultures might at 3 week old roadkill. Hoping to find at least one juicy morsel worth eating. Sadly, there was none. The meatballs on the other hand, were a whole different story. Simultaneously raw on the inside, and completely devoid of moisture, is not something i thought was actually possible. They came presented in a tagine with a tomato sauce of nondescript origins, and defied all attempts to be enjoyed.

The couscous however was tasty and refreshingly edible. A small bowl of hope in an otherwise desert of a meal.

Somewhat incensed by how something that should have been so good, wasn’t. I went home and started looking up meatball tagine recipes. I love cooking with a tagine and I love Moroccan flavours. The combination of sweet and savoury elements coming together to confuse the palate and build layers of complexity is always rewarding when done well. So I was glad to be able to find this dish that completely restored my faith that it was indeed just a miraculously bad experience.

Kefta Mkaouara

For the meatballs

Minced beef or lamb (I used beef, but a combination might be good)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp hot paprika
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 onion chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 egg to bind
salt and pepper to season
sprinkling of finely chopped parsley
ghee for frying

For the sauce
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cans chopped tomatoes (or equivalent passata)
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp hot paprika
1 tablespoon honey
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
4 eggs (or more)

How I made mine

Combine the meatball ingredients together in a bowl. Mix the meat and spices through thoroughly with your hands, add the onion, garlic, and parsley and crack the egg in. Mix the egg throughout the mixture well so that it binds together well.

Then start to form small balls by taking a palm full of the mixture, flattening it out to remove air pockets, and then rolling between your hands to make golf ball sized meatballs. Obviously you can make them as big or as small as you want, and at this point I often start playing around with the seasoning to add more of a particular spice if I think it needs it.

Now get your tagine (you can just use a regular frying pan with a lid if you don’t have a tagine, but then you have to call it meatball frypan dish, which is infinitely less sexy) and add a little ghee to the bottom, then fry the sliced onion til it’s mostly cooked through.

Add the meatballs on top of the onion and fry them til just browned all over. Turning them over every few minutes to make sure they’re cooking evenly.

Once the meatballs are browned, add the tomatoes (or passata) over the top til it’s mostly covered. At that point sprinkle in the other spices and drizzle over the honey. Give the whole dish a gentle stir mix the spices through. Now put the lid of the tagine on, and turn the heat down to quite low to let the flavours infuse and the sauce to soak into the meatballs. If the level of liquid in the dish is a bit low, then add some more tomato passata.

Now give this ten minutes or so to simmer and for the meatballs to cook through, and then the master stroke of this dish is ready to happen. Take the lid off and crack the eggs into the sauce (in between gaps in the meatballs). Add a sprinkling of fresh parsley and perhaps some coriander over the top, and another good seasoning with salt and pepper, and then put the lid back on the tagine. Now basically you’re poaching the eggs in the sauce until they’re cooked to your liking. I left mine in for a few minutes til they were just soft and still runny inside.

To serve, either get authentic and make up some couscous, or just do what I did and gingerly spoon the meatballs into a bowl while trying not to break the eggs, and then devour with thick slices of crusty bread.


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29 thoughts on “Kefta Mkaouara (Meatball Tagine)”

  1. Getting annoyed with bad restaurant food and making a better version at home seems to be a habit of yours! Your post-Pony Club chorizo and chick pea stew springs to mind

    1. What can I say… I hate to see potential go unrealised. Hopefully I’ll continue to do it in lieu of sending angry letters as a pensioner.

  2. Your review of Meeka will be saving me money as I now won’t be going there for a meal, so this means I’m allowed to buy myself a tagine even though I only just bought myself a food processor, right?

    Perfect winter fare, cheers for the recipe.

  3. Just like the baked egg dish I had at Birdman Eating in Melbourne recently. Good eats.

  4. Hmm, maybe a start to having a restaurant of your own? ;)
    I have nearly all the ingredients– now all I need is a tagine, which isn’t sold here!

  5. Going to give this a bash on Thursday night. Sadly it will be the infinately less sexier version as I dont think that I can justify the acquisition of said Tagine before then. Thanks for the recipe Matt, looking forward to it :)

  6. hey matt. totally agree with you on Meeka. the place is shit. we went about 6 months after it opened, hoping that any problems would have been ironed out by then.

    we had the most horrible and banal tasting mezze plate. we didn’t bother sticking around for a main.

    and the decor is just so uninspiring.

  7. I found your food blog going through a few links. Glad I ran into it. Didn’t know that the food blog community was so big. I love your posts!

    I was wondering if you would like to exchange links. I’ll drop yours on my site and you drop mine on yours. Email at or stop by my site and drop a comment. Let me know if you would like to do a link exchange.


  8. Fabulous blog! Your experience at Meeka sounded terrible! I wandered around Subiaco very briefly when I was in Perth a couple of months back. It’s a nice area. :)

  9. Hey there dude. Love your honesty. We’re lucky we have you to help Perth hold some of its mediocrity to account.

  10. Yay.. a Tagine recipe! I have had a Tagine for 6 years now. Beautiful ornament, lovely bright red Creuset one. Now I might just use it!

  11. ahhh, the traditional way to eat food cooked in a tagine, would be to tear chunks of a solid round loaf of bread, and mop up the juices and eat any vegetables in there, and then, still using pieces of bread as cutlery (one handed cutlery) to start to pick up the bits of meat…. couscous is normally a separate dish completely to something like the kefta tagine (not that I kno much, having recently travelled Moroocco)

  12. I don’t know what you are talking about. We all have different opinions Just look at the movie show, david and margaret always disagree who do you listen to. If you took the advice of only one of them you probably wouldn’t go to a movie. Thats why we are human Be a person and make you owm mind up.
    I have travelled the world and been to restaurants such as Ezards, Vue De Monde and that special restaurant in Spain(best in the world)and to Meeka on a number of times. This might not be the best restaurant in the world but the food was terrific, the service was great and all my friends that I have taken there have really enjoyed the food and had a great time.
    All I see when I visit Meeka are happy people enjoying themselves.
    So I say don’t listen to me or anybody else trying to criticize a place go there and make up your own mind be pleasant as we all should have some manners and if you do leave unhappy all you have to do is not go back as I have done to plenty of other restaurants around this world. But let me finish on a note That I Will Be Going Back To Meeka. Ps you can also buy a steak or fish at Meeka if you want as it states Modern Australian with a middle eastern twist

  13. I have just read Peter comments. You are spot on Peter.
    I have eaten at Meeka on a numbers of times with friends and we all have had a great time and guess what I will be going again this Saturday if all goes as planned

    1. Dear peter and shayne,

      I thought I would reply to you together seeing as I can see you’re coming from the same IP address, and hence same computer. So I thought if you were
      sitting there together collectively agreeing with each other, then I should reply to you both as such.

      I’m not sure if you are associated with Meeka or not, but if so then I’d advise you that leaving these kind of comments on my site is going to help your business a lot less than fixing the food you serve in your restaurant and providing your diners some value.

      Of course if you’re just two happy go lucky chaps who happen to love this restaurant and I’ve stepped on both your toes, then my sincere apologies.
      As peter so eloquently put it, we should all “be a person and make up our own minds”. Interestingly enough though, I am a person, and this is my website. So what you get on this site is… wait for it… my opinion.

      If every under performing restaurant was left to their own devices and noone ever said anything publicly then what impetus would their be to change or do any better ?

      But glad you guys like it anyway. Maybe you’ll run into each other there sometime soon.

  14. I have just read Matt comments. You are spot on Matt.
    I have read this blog on a numbers of times with friends and we all have had a great time and guess what I will be reading again this Saturday if all goes as planned

  15. That looks too good to eat.

    So I’ll just make it and stare at it for all eternity.

    ps. grum is hot.

  16. Absolutely bloody fantastic recipe! I made this on the weekend, served with crusty bread and was in heaven! I used my home made ras-el-hanout for the spices in the meatballs, but stuck with the sauce spices as written. The eggs just make the dish! Was perfect for a cold Melbourne night… thanks for the excellent dinner!

  17. wow what a boring recipe…. uninspiring one could say…. Does anyone in perth try to create anything new? Or is the common mentality of perth goers along the line of “its not good food unless its ‘authentic’ food”…. Boring

    1. I really don’t want to reply to this comment Ben, it’s too perfect in it’s complete ignorance to require any response.

      But I will say thanks for making my day. I will strive ever harder to make something original and unauthentic for you one day.

  18. wow i didnt know some people could be so harsh.i have been to meeka several times because i love the place the food the atmosphere everything about it. i have read many reviews on this place and all of them have been great which is why i decided to try this place out. since the first time i tried the food i loved it which is why i continue to go back for more. meeka keep going at it and dont let a cuple of ‘shit’ comments put u down.

  19. Hi Matt – Shayne and Pete here again. Just to let you know all we are two good married friends who enjoy food , travel and very busy with work and family. Our only dealing with Meeka is that we eat there and we enjoy the Food and Service. We only found out about your blog site through a mutual friend.
    It sounds to us that we hit a nerve with you Matt if we don’t agree with you, then we shouldn’t comment on your blog site. Why have a blog site? Why don’t you delete everybody comments from your site?
    Well Matt bad luck and we do not accept your aploogy
    Ps Write back what you want Matt as it is your blog site and guess what you are safe from us as we will not be replying back

    PSS We just read your comments re Ben again sounds like Ben hit a nerve with you

    Shayne & Pete

  20. I am 1 of a group of about 30people that regularly go to Meeka. WE LOVE IT and everything about it….obviously…. or we wouldn’t go back!… Most of our group have lived and breathed the hospitality industry and our collective experience far outways your young life….. The statement ‘Middle Eastern Twist’ is perfectly portrayed in the meals on Meeka’s menu, therefore delivering what they promise! Matt I think you were terribly unproffessional in your attidude portrayed in your blog/write up!! Do you have a recipe for manners? We would all like you to post that one for us! Meeka keep up the good work….. u should be ashamed of yourself Matt… and no we don’t have any ties with Meeka other than patrons. We do however have manners!

  21. Matt,
    Thanks for the honesty and sincerity that you show via the professionalism of your blog. It’s a breath of fresh air having someone actually have the balls to call a spade a spade and tell it like it is in a review. Not only have you not attacked anyone in a personal way (ref @Candi: Do you have a recipe for manners?), but you’ve also pointed out what was wrong in the dishes you had (and what you enjoyed) such that if the chefs read the post, they would understand and adjust how they’ve cooked things accordingly.

  22. (ref to David) Where was the professionalism? It was personal to Meeka’s and can be very damaging to a business to write something so crude! He basically attacked meeka’s!…. I appreciate honesty also, although there is no need for the roadkill reference that was completely unnecessary! Unless of course he has tasted roadkill himself. And everybody needs to excersise a few manners don’t you think?

  23. I recently went to Meeka and personally could not find anything wrong with my meal. The chicken was far from “dry to the point of inedibility”. But perhaps the best part of the meal was the immaculate service that my table recieved-Absolutely flawless. Many other resturants could learn from this.

  24. Hey Matt,
    Love the recipe! Dont like the eggs though. Gross!
    I have also recently dined at Meeka. My father is a rotarian at Western Endevour and they have their breakfasts there every tuesday. My Dad loves this restaurant which is why we often go there for special occasions. And the food and service is always good. I find it hard to believe that you went on a “off night” because the have never been anything but the best for us! Its all about personal taste.If you didnt like it why didnt you send it back? How many times has a food critic from the West Australian not liked a meal, never mentions this to the chef and then bitchs about it in the newspaper?
    Go again is what I suggest!!

    1. Ahh, so many fans of Meeka. It’s a good thing, because I was a little worried that the times I’ve been were indicative of it’s popularity. So thanks guys for restoring my faith that it’s worth going back and trying again.

      Jess, I did actually tell the waitress about our issues with the dishes on the night, but aside from apologizing and offering us some desserts there wasn’t much else to be done.

      I do however, stand by my comments about the food I’ve been served at Meeka in the past, however I will never write a place off completely without giving it another try, so watch this space.

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