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Moroccan Lemon and Cardamom Meatballs

moroccan meatballs

This post is dedicated to a very special friend of mine and her rabbi husband who is of Moroccan heritage (you know who you are)!


So, when I was working I was used to grocery shopping in the early evening or on Sundays. Of course, that’s when the groceries are always the most jam-packed with tired and impatient customers who are constantly bumping into each other, getting on one another’s nerves. I often lamented that I was forced to shop at these times. Sometimes I would get up really early on Sundays just to beat the stock-up crowd.


moroccan meatballs


Well, now I’m home with my baby, and do all my shopping in the middle of the day along with the geriatric crowd. What kind of stinks is that I have this handicapped parking placard now and it’s totally useless. All the handicapped spots are always taken.


Anyway, sometimes I’m on a real mission, and I’m not enjoying the whole shopping experience, but today wasn’t one of those days. You see, I’ve been so busy creating interesting recipes for y’all that I kind of forgot about our kitchen staples. I went to the store without a list, and just picked up stuff we could use any ole time – like microwave popcorn. This is my favorite kind of grocery shopping. I can slowly move through the aisles, baby strapped to my chest, and then I get the looks. The looks come from the older ladies trying to catch a glance of my son’s face. Their lips curl into a gentle smile and it’s usually accompanied by “oooh, how cute!” Sometimes I see other new moms who are asking me what carrier I’m wearing or how old my little one is. No matter the interactions while I’m walking round the store, inevitably I always have the same conversation at checkout. It’s usually an elderly couple with their newly bagged groceries passing by:

Elderly gentleman: What aisle can I get one of those? (looking at the baby)

Me: Aisle 3! Half-off today!

Elderly gentleman: Oh, I think you got the last one.


Yep, that’s my day! Exciting times. On to the recipe. It’s Cardamom week, so why not add some to some meatballs! Please note, the original recipe called for lamb instead of beef, but kosher ground lamb is hard to find, so beef it is! Like most Moroccan-style recipes, this one pairs spices (Cinnamon and Cardamom) with really bright flavors.


Oh, yeah – pin this pic!


moroccan meatballs


Recipe adapted from The View from Great Island.


Moroccan Lemon and Cardamom Meatballs

Moroccan Lemon and Cardamom Meatballs


  1. For the meatballs:
  2. • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1/2 medium red onion, very finely minced
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
    • a 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
    • 1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs
    • 1 large egg, well beaten
    • a handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
    • a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
    • zest of two lemons
    • 1/2 cup pine nuts
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp freshly toasted and ground cardamom*
    • olive oil for frying
  3. For the sauce:
  4. • 2/3 cup tahini
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • water
  5. Garnish:
  6. • pine nuts
    • chopped parsley or mint
    • a sprinkling of smoked paprika, or sumac


  1. Set oven to 350F
  2. Pour about a Tbsp of oil into a frying pan. Fry the onions until they are translucent.
  3. Place the beef, cooked onion, garlic, ginger, bread crumbs, beaten egg, fresh herbs, lemon zest, pine nuts, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt and pepper into a large bowl. Mix everything together using your fingertips. You want to get all the ingredients evenly distributed without compacting the meat.
  4. Form walnut sized meatballs from the mixture.
  5. Cover the bottom of a heavy pan with the olive oil and heat until hot. Work in batches so you don't crowd the pan, and brown the meatballs on all sides. Add more oil as necessary.
  6. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through.
  7. Meanwhile make the sauce by mixing the tahini and lemon juice, and then adding enough water to make a thin sauce. Salt it to taste.
  8. Serve the meatballs hot from the oven, nestled in the sauce. Garnish with more pine nuts, herbs, and a sprinkling of sumac or paprika.


  1. Terryn says

    These meatballs look fabulous! Pinned and going on my list of recipes to try in the very near future!

  2. Christina Nesbitt Shoemaker says

    I love a good email and these make me wish I had some right now! Love your flavor combo, Miri!

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