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Step by Step: Moroccan Meatballs

With the blasting of the furnace and the first snowflakes fluttering down comes the desire to surround oneself with cold weather comforts. For me these include slippers, wooly cardigans, and cozy comfort food.

Meatballs slide into this category and for good reason. They’re easy to throw together and lend themselves well to a variety of seasonings. Plus, you can make a big batch ahead of time and freeze for future meals. Sauces can be whatever you have a hankering for, be it sweet and sour, creamy mushroom, or rich and tangy tomato. Meatballs love to soak up gorgeous flavours, and this Moroccan-inspired recipe is sure to bring the warmth on a cold winter's day.

Moroccan cuisine is earthy and flavourful, and has been enriched by the many aspects of its long and eventful history. Given the country’s location on the Northern tip of Africa, with coastlines on both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, Moroccan cuisine has a fascinating blend of Arab, Middle Eastern, Iberian, Mediterranean, Jewish, and African influences.

One cannot talk about Moroccan cooking without talking about the spices. A fixture on the spice route, the country has adopted the abundance of spices imported from all over the world, which have found their way into local kitchens for centuries. Moroccan food is layered with sweet, spicy, earthy, and bright flavours that reflect the vast array of spices available in the colourful local markets.

Ten essential spices to Moroccan cooking include: cumin, saffron, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, ground ginger, cardamom, paprika, white or black pepper, and hot red peppers. If you don’t have a full spice cupboard, you can look for a blend like ras el hanout, often labeled as “Moroccan Spice Blend” at many grocery stores. Its name translates to “best of the shop” and will likely include a variety of the spices listed above.

This dish includes most of these spices and the aroma released from the skillet is absolutely wonderful. The spice level is mild, but if you prefer a bit more heat feel free to add more red pepper flakes to the sauce. Tender and juicy, the meatballs swim in a rich and delicious tomato sauce. Serve over fluffy couscous, rice, or even pasta.


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