I am always trying to think of ways to make cous cous more exciting, and I’m not sure you can do better than topping it with a pile of succulent lamb (or beef!) meatballs, spicy tomato sauce with chickpeas and roasted garlic aubergine.
I’m not sure how strictly ‘Moroccan’ this recipe is, but I tried to incorporate ingredients that would make you think of this part of the world like lamb, cinnamon, and chickpeas. I would have liked to use harissa paste in the sauce but as I didn’t have any I compensated by using some of the ingredients, including red chilli, garlic, cumin and ground coriander. If you do have harissa paste handy, feel free to add a teaspoon to the sauce but reduce the amount of fresh chilli that you include, unless you want it to be really spicy.
The roasted aubergine was a little addition because I wanted to incorporate some veg. I also wanted to try and roast it until it had a bit of crispiness to it. I managed this by cutting it into quite small cubes and smothering it with olive oil, salt and crushed garlic. It was so delicious that I thought I would include it in this recipe, but feel free to leave them out if you can’t be bothered and want to focus on the meat.
Getting the seasoning right for meat can be quite tricky, because of course you can’t taste it until it is cooked. With minced meat, a handy trick is to season it with salt and pepper, then fry a tiny amount in a pan and taste it to check the seasoning. Remember that you can always add salt and pepper but you can’t take it away, so be modest with the seasoning the first time around.
As well as the cous cous, you can serve this with a salad and some garlic bread for a real feast. You can also use beef instead of lamb if you prefer.
I couldn’t decide which photo to use, so here is a close up!
This recipe serves 2. Serve with some plain yoghurt drizzled over the top.
- Prep Time : 15 minutes
- Cook Time : 30 minutes
- 250g minced lamb
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 aubergine - chopped into small cubes
- 1 red pepper - finely chopped
- 1 red onion - finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves - crushed
- 1 red chilli - de-seeded and finely chopped
- Big handful coriander - roughly chopped
- 1/2 tin chickpeas
- 180g cous cous
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 150ml chicken stock
- 3 tbs olive oil
- salt and pepper - to taste
- yoghurt - optional
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade.
2. Put a saucepan on a medium heat. Dry fry the coriander seeds and half the cumin seeds for a couple of minutes until they start to smell really fragrant and the coriander seeds start to pop.
3. Add 1 tbsp of the olive oil, onion and about half of the garlic. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the red pepper and the chilli and fry for a further 4-5 minutes until softened.
4. Remove half of the mixture from the saucepan and place in a bowl to cool. This is for the meatballs.
5. Put the saucepan back on the heat, add the chopped tomatoes and cinnamon stick and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Put the aubergines in an oven proof dish, drizzle with the rest of olive oil, cumin seeds and garlic. Season generously with salt and pepper and mix it all up until the oil and seasoning coats the aubergine. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
7. Add the lamb to the bowl with the cooled onion and pepper mixture. Add 1/2 tsp ground cumin and about 2 tbs of chopped coriander. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Form into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter.
8. Put a frying pan on a medium heat. Add 1 tbs of olive oil. Fry the meatballs for about 7-8 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Remember to move them around to make sure they are browned all over.
9. While the meatballs are cooking, pour the cous cous into a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and pour over 100ml of the chicken stock. Cover for 5 minutes, then fluff it up with a fork, add the rest of the coriander and and cover for another 5 minutes. You may want to add a pinch of salt and pepper and another drizzle of olive oil if it's a bit dry.
10. Add the chickpeas, remaining chicken stock, ground cumin and the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer for a few more minutes until the aubergines are lovely and crispy and the cous cous is ready. Remove the cinnamon stick.
11. Serve the meatballs piled on top of the cous cous sprinkled with the rest of the fresh coriander. Drizzle with some plain yoghurt (optional).