Bilby Bites - the food blog from Bilby Marketing

Lamb Meatball & Egg Tagine

Saveur magazine has been a bit of an inspiration for me recently. I'm on their mailing list and regularly receive suggestions for 'simple' weeknight meals often showcasing unusual, world cuisine. This kefta recipe was on a recent newsletter. Whilst I think it might be bit of a stretch to describe this recipe as 'simple' in terms of weeknight cooking, it is very, very tasty and quite fun to put together on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I find making meatballs is quite therapeutic. What I love about this tagine is the fact that it combines meatballs or koftas - one of my favourite things on the planet - and baked eggs. The word kofta or kefta, is derived from the Persian word kūfta, meaning to beat or grind or 'meatball'. JC isn't a big fan of tomatoes and eggs so it wasn't a hit with half of the household, but as JC has very 'particular' food tastes shall we say, I knew this was always going to be a hard sell. I loved it, but sadly, it probably won't be a regular dish in this house.


  • 450g minced lamb
  • 1 1/2 tbsps ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsps paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed red chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp crushed ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp crushed saffron threads
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 4 eggs
  • 75g unpitted kalamata olives
  • 50g flat leaf parsley, finely chopped


  • Place lamb, 1 tbsp. cumin, 1 tbsp. paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix until evenly combined.
  • Form the mixture into 12 balls, about 25g each and place on a plate; chill the kefta until ready to use.
  • Heat butter and oil in a heavy based, casserole dish on the hob over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring, until soft for about 5 minutes.
  • Add remaining cumin and paprika, chilli flakes, ginger, saffron and bay leaf, and cook, stirring, until fragrant for about 2 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until broken down and sauce is slightly reduced, roughly 10 minutes.
  • Add the meatballs and cook, covered, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Crack the eggs over the top and arrange olives, if you wish, around the eggs; cover, and continue cooking until the whites are cooked and the yolks are still slightly runny, roughly 8 minutes.
  • Uncover and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Bilby Boost

  • I did not include olives in my dish as I forgot to buy any, but the kalamata olives are not an absolute necessity. You can leave them out altogether as I did, or maybe include another variety. I would have included green, Spanish Perello olives if I had of planned a little better. These are currently my absolute favourite olives. They sell them at Bill's café in Exeter. They are mild, large and marinated in a light brine with mild, green chillis. Honestly I dare you to buy a tin and not gobble the lot in one sitting.
  • I used a large copper sauté pan with a lid for this dish which worked well.