Tiny Meatballs with Raisons and Caramelized Onions

by Sarah on September 24, 2010

Moroccan meatballs with raisins and onions

I want to reduce the amount of food waste in my kitchen. I have been neglecting this in favor of experimenting with new recipes every week  and accumulating a pantry full leftover ingredients. Eventually the food would turn rancid and thrown out. Enough. This is not a responsible way to manage a kitchen, either financially or environmentally.  In the spirit of practical minimalism I am trying to change my wasteful habits without interfering with my cooking style.

moroccan meatballs with raisins and onions

For me this means being more creative with items on hand, and improvising on recipes to include them. Instead of buying new ingredients I made a Moroccan sweet and savory meatball tangine from leftover pantry items.

The addition of fruits to savory dishes is an ancient custom, made popular in the Middle East during Medieval times. Later the Arabs introduced this method into North Africa echoing the fragrance and flavors of the East.

moroccan meatballs with onions and raisins

Tiny Meatballs with Raisons and Caramelized Onions

Although I usually use breadcrumbs, I added ground almonds in the meat mixture to keep it gluten free and to impart a subtle nutty flavor. Baharat is a spice mixture used throughout the Levant, Iraq and some parts of North Africa. In this recipe I used Iraqi baharat (what I happened to have available) adding an exotic flavor. Traditionally this might have been cooked in a tangine but a shallow pot is also acceptable and what I used. I have seen similar recipes adding sugar to the sauce but I omitted this in favor of more raisins.

500 grams ground meat

1 onion grated

2 tablespoons ground almonds or bread crumbs

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or baharat


3/4 cup golden raisins, soaked in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes

3 onions, cut in half and thinly sliced

Olive oil or other vegetable oil

1/2 cup toasted almond slivers to garnish

Fry the onions in olive oil on low to medium heat until golden brown. Add the raisons, reserving the water. Continue to fry while mixing for a few more seconds. Add 1/2 cup of the raisin’s liquid and bring to a simmer. Put aside.

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs and knead by hand until well mixed. Using a melon spoon take a cherry sized amount of the mixture. It is possible to cook these directly in the sauce or fry them separately until golden before adding. Water or more raisin juice needs to be added so that it comes half way up the meatballs. Simmer for 20-30 minutes with the top partially covered until the meatballs are cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve with toasted slivered almonds.

To toast almonds I usually coat them with a small amount of oil and heat them in a pan until they become golden.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Yael September 25, 2010 at 5:42 am

what a nice dish. I must confess they look better than the Mamouls. sorry i’m just not a mamoul fan. i see you’re keeping busy inspite the holidays.


Sarah September 25, 2010 at 6:20 am

One day I will get around to making you a chocolate truffle filled mamoul without rosewater


Cherine September 25, 2010 at 10:55 am

A delightful dish!! I love it!


Sarah September 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Thanks Cherine and Lindentea, It is also very easy to make which is always a plus


lindentea September 25, 2010 at 12:22 pm

This dish looks so appetizing! I love the addition of ground almonds instead of bread crumbs.


Mimi September 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Mmmm…those meatballs look fabulous, Sarah! And what’s this about ma’amoul filled with chocolate truffles?! Howcum no rosewater? And when do I get some?



Sarah September 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm

I can add rosewater if you like. It seems that not everyone loves rosewater as much as I do. That said, I did make a batch that were so heavily scented that I had to air them outside the house ;-)


OysterCulture October 2, 2010 at 2:50 pm

These little beauties just sound so yummy and not with the usual ingredients I think to incorporate into my meatballs. Cannot wait to give them a try.


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