When I first moved to Morocco, I imagined I might travel to other parts of North Africa, or the Maghreb in French, referring to Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Turns out it’s not quite so easy to traverse the borders, the political relationship between Morocco and it’s neighbor Algeria being tenuous. I rarely meet Algerians here, and have yet to meet a Tunisian or Libyan. As a result, those countries now hold a sort of mystique for me. So when I saw this recipe for Tunisian meatballs on seriouseats.com from New York Times food writer David Tanis, I jumped at the opportunity. I may not be able to skip over to Tunisia for a sunny weekend on the beach, but I can pretend I’m there while enjoying these hearty, spiced meatballs with buttery couscous on my terrace.
These meatballs are somewhat of a project but so worth the extra time and effort. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients; most of them are spices and will take just a couple seconds to measure out and add. I used ground beef because the butcher was out of lamb, but I imagine lamb would be even more authentic. Savory spiced meatballs in a light tomato sauce top steaming bowls of couscous and sweet golden raisins. They keep well and make a large batch, so you can enjoy them throughout the week. And once you finish the couscous, use them to top a toasted baguette to make an exotic meatball sub. It’s comfort food without the predictability.