Middle Eastern Lamb and Almond Meatball Tagine

Meatballs
600g x Lamb Mince
100g x ground almonds
1tbsp x chopped coriander
1tsp x cumin (ground)
1tsp x coriander seeds (ground)
1tsp x mint (chopped)
1tsp x sweet paprika
1tsp x ras el hanout
Salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Sauce
1 x red onion (chopped)
4 x cloves garlic (Minced)
100g ground almonds
1 tsp x cumin
1 tsp x coriander
1½ tbsp x finely grated ginger
1/2 tsp x chili powder
2tsp x preserved lemons (chopped)
10 x dried apricots (diced)
10 x dried figs (chopped)
2 pints x lamb stock
2sml tins x chopped tomatoes
Salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Garnish
100g flaked almonds (toasted)
½ x pomegranate (seeded)
150g x Greek yoghurt
4tbsp x chopped coriander

Meatballs
Sauté onions & garlic till translucent then add the ground spices and cook out the mix for a few minuets till the aromas start to release. In a mixer, slowly mix the onion & garlic, fresh herbs, mince.

Form into firm balls about two inches in diameter by rolling between your palms. Cover and rest in the fridge preferably over night. You can freeze whatever you’re not using right away. (Remember, when you want to cook them, don’t defrost, but rather brown directly in the pan before heating them through or you will wind up with soggy formless mush.)

Now to cook, put a small amount of pomace oil into a medium/high heat pan and gently sauté off the meatballs in a single layer. Gently brown them by shaking the pan occasionally, about 7-10 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate to soak up the excess fat.

To make the sauce, use some fat from the pan, and sauté the grated onions and garlic over medium heat until they become transparent. Stir in the ground almonds and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until they become pale golden. Stir in the cumin and paprika and sauté for a few minuets more, and then add the dried fruits, stock and tomatoes Crumble in the saffron with your fingers and reduce heat to a simmer. If you have a herb/coffee grinder then add the saffron and a teaspoon of white sugar and grind to a fine powder. This is a Persian way of making the saffron more intense in both colour and taste. Use a spoon to break up any lumps and simmer for about 10 minutes more, to allow the saffron to bloom and the mixture to reduce slightly. And add salt and pepper to taste.

Return the meatballs to the pan and toss gently, so they’re coated with sauce. Place all ingredients into a large tagine or an oven proof dish, cover and roast in the oven on 150c for 1½-2 hours till the sauce has reduced and become thick and rich.

Garnish with spooned yoghurt, scattered flaked toasted almonds, coriander and pomegranate seeds.

Serve with cous cous and flat breads.

This recipe makes about six dozen two-inch meatballs, enough for 6-8 main dish servings, or quite a lot of tapas.