I'm just back from a quick holiday in Marrakesh with a bag full of spices and a head full of inspiration from the Moroccan cuisine. It's a highly recommendable city to visit for any food lover as their cooking is something quite unique. As you probably know, most of their dishes are cooked in a tanjine, an earthenware pot with a kind of chimney lid on. But although they sold them in almost every second shop, I got tired of haggling in the end and never got round to buying one. But you can easily cook with out it. Here are some meatballs with fennel and chickpeas. I don't know if it's an original recipe, but it's delicious nonetheless and already takes me back to the food stalls in Jamaa el Fna.
400g. minced beef or lamb
1 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. harissa (or chili powder)
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. Ras el Hanout (North African Spice mix, a bit similar to Garam Masala)
Small handful of fresh parsley
2 medium sized onions
1 fennel bulb
1 can of precooked chickpeas
1 can of peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the spices and add 1/3 of it to the minced meat. Add a bit of the parsley. Mix it in well (best done with the hands). Form small meatballs 3-4 cm in diameters.
Fry the meat balls in olive oil and set a side when brown all over.
Chop and fry the vegetables in the same frying pan with the oil from the meatballs. Add the rest of the spice mix and a teaspoon of salt. Fry at medium temperature until all the veggies are soft and translucent.
Then drain the chickpeas and add them to the vegetables along with the can of tomatoes (I like to blend my tomatoes first, but that's up to you). Let it simmer 15 minutes at low temperature.