I’m not allowed a Tagine. Our house is too small apparently and our cupboards are full of cooking equipment I “use once and then forget about”. It’s a fair comment and living in a two up two down terraced house in London there isn’t a lot of room for anything. When I have my huge Victorian house with the island kitchen and tri-fold doors which open onto the vast garden I’ll get me a tagine and I’ll impress at dinner parties by using it as the centerpiece and unveiling the food by lifting off the chimney.
Living in London in your 30s means for most that you have to live in a pretty small house. For what we paid for our house, with one downstairs room, you could buy a 4 bedroom house in the country but I wouldn’t want it any differently – especially with my love of food. Within 3 miles of my kitchen there is a Thai Supermarket, a Chinese Supermarket an Indian Supermarket and a generalist supermarket with African and Caribbean sections. There is a Polish shop at the end of my road which covers food from most of Eastern Europe and if I need anything from Sweden I go to Ikea. I learned once in Holland that their dish Hotchpotch is called so as it is a many different ingredients all thrown together in the same pot and they all combine to produce one wonderful result. I see the food scene in London very much on the same lines. We have British cuisine in the background but on top of that we have world cuisine and we can tap into it whenever we please.
I drew Algeria this week and the Meatball Tagine stood out. For those who is not sure what a tagine is, here is a pic.
Without having Tagine and cooking a dish which required one, it meant I needed to improvise, so I used my casserole. Instead of constantly checking during the cooking process, as I usually would, I put the lid three quarters on and let it steam away. It produced a decent dish.
I love meatballs in most forms. There’s something about the texture which improves the overall taste somehow. These meatballs were the best I have ever made. It’s a big statement but they contained some really bold flavours which didn’t overpower and the undercurrent of harissa is wonderful. I would usually eat meatballs in a thick sauce and put them with rice or pasta, but with this dish there is not much sauce left at the end of the process and I ate it in a flatbread with homous and a fragrant coriander salad. It was rich, spicy, floral, meaty and fresh all at the same time. It’s brilliant food for when you have people round but you don’t want to sit all around the table in an smart dinner party way. You need to eat this with your hands and it’s quite messy.
I often get comments from people who have read this blog which say “that looked great, I really should make one of your dishes”. All I would say in response, is perhaps you should, but if not then definitely cook something this week which is completely new for you. You will probably like it, it will certainly teach you something and overall you will be a better cook for it.
- 500g Beef Mince
- 1 Tbsp Paprika
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Tbsp Cumin
- 1 Tbsp Turmeric
- 2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 5 Tomatoes (skinned)
- 2 Tbsp Harissa
- 2 Shallots
- 2 Cups Water
Mix the beef mince with the Paprika, Garlic, Cumin, Turmeric and Parsley and divide into about 10 large balls. Add in salt and pepper to taste.
Heat some oil in a frying pan. Roll the balls all around just until they are browned all over and then set them aside.
In a casserole gently fry the shallots for 5 minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes and the harissa. Gently fry for another 5 minutes and then add the water and bring to the boil. Add in the meatballs, stir and then put the lid on the casserole, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and leave it for 30 mins with one stir half way.
- 1 Diced Red Onion
- 1 Diced Cucumber
- 5 Handfuls of Chopped Coriander
- A drizzle of Lemon Juice