Moroccan meatballs with egg

I was on a roll with making food from my 400 and Under collection of recipes. I always look out for recipes that provide less than 400 calories per serving because that means we have some leeway with having a glass of wine, say, while still keeping our calories down and, therefore, still (theoretically at least) sticking to a diet. The thought of Moroccan spiced meatballs with egg in a delicious tomatoey sauce seemed too good to be true – a rich and delicious supper that would only add up to (according to Good Food Magazine, where I found the recipe) a mere 377 calories per serving.

It’s diet food! And it would be delicious. Who wants to live on cottage cheese and celery when you can have a gorgeous steaming bowl of meatballs? Meatballs in a tomato and chickpea spiced sauce with a lovely egg cooked in there…….I had everything I needed so I started by chopping a small sweet white onion and a small red onion. That’s because the recipe said one onion… and these were more midget sized onions.

They went into the frying pan to soften while I started on the meatballs themselves. I did have one problem – I had no ground cinnamon and I needed that for a real Moroccan hit. I love the smell of cinnamon (and having made this recipe once, the next time I will add more cinnamon) I did have, however, cinnamon sticks and a large pestle and mortar…

Quite therapeutic to bash and grind the cinnamon into a soft and fragrant powder. But possibly easier to buy it ground…..? I did manage to get some ground cinnamon but there were lots of bits of the stick left. Anyway, I did, in the end, after lots of pounding, finish up with half a teaspoon or thereabouts which I added to 250g of lamb mince.

(Having made the dish I have to say that I would, when I do it again, add more than half a teaspoon of cinnamon because I so love that rich and exotic taste and smell. If you aren’t as keen on Middle eastern flavours then just stick to the recipe)

I added 50g of fresh breadcrumbs (I made them by whizzing up a breadbun I had)

and added an egg, salt and pepper.

By now the onions were beautifully soft and once they cooled slightly, I stirred them in, mixed them round and started to make meatballs. The Bear was called into action… my poor Canon camera gets so much abuse with my sticky fingers but I really couldn’t subject it to meatball mix.

They had to be cooked in the fat left in the frying pan, turning them gently until they were browned

That only takes about 8 minutes – don’t worry, remember they do go back into the pan when you have made the tomato sauce. Take them out and put them to one side.

The recipe said use a courgette, thickly sliced but I only had baby courgettes, so I reckoned three of them would be the equivalent of a normal courgette… so they got sliced and gently fried for a minute or so

Before adding in a couple of cans of chopped plum tomatoes

… a teaspoon of Ras-el Hanout – a Moroccan spice blend that you can buy in most large supermarkets nowadays. You can make it yourself if you can’t find it – click on that link and it takes to a description and a recipe.

… and two teaspoons of honey

Once the tomatoey mix was soft, a tin of chickpeas was added and the stirred round

and then the meatballs put in

After that, the recipe said to make four hollows in the suace and crack eggs into them… I couldn’t really manage – maybe my sauce wasn’t thick enough? – anyway, I broke the eggs in and pulled the sauce away from underneath so the raw egg dropped down into the sauce.

The pan was covered for 5 minutes or so and left on a low heat to set the eggs……

And it was delicious! The cinnamony richness of the meatballs was perfect with the spicy tomato, chickpea and Ras-El Hanout spices and the beautiful egg was the perfect addition in terms of difference in texture and taste.

This is definitely something we shall be cooking again… and it was on our diet! Less than 400 calories per serving….if you stick to one serving that is….oh, it is delicious!

As Good Food doesn’t have a link to the recipe – here it is


1 onion finely chopped; 3 tbsp of olive oil; 50g fresh breadcrumbs;  250g of lean lamb mince;  1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon; 5 eggs; 2 garlic cloves, sliced; 1 courgette thickli sliced; 2x400g chopped plum tomatoes; 2 tsp. of honey; 1 tsp ras-El Hanout spice blend; 400g chickpeas, rinsed and drained.

Fry the onion in 1 tbsp oil until soft, leave to cool. Mix with the breadcrumbs, mince, cinnamon, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp salt and lots of pepper then shape into about 24 meatballs. Fry in the remaining oil in the pan for about 8 minutes until bgrowned. Lift out and set aside.

Add garlic to the oil in the pan and fry till softened. Add courgettes, fry gently for about a minutes then add tomatoes, honey, Ras-El Hanout, seasoning and a couple of tbsp of water. Stir and cook until pulpy

Stir in the chickpeas and the meatballs. Make 4 hollows in the sauce and break in the remaining eggs. Cover and cook for 5 or so minutes over a low heat till the eggs are set.

Serves 4 Preparation 40 minutes, cooking 30 minutes

Per serving – 377 calories, protein 26g, carbs 20g, fat 22g, saturated fat 7g, fibre 3g, sugar 8g, salt 0.94g

22 thoughts on “Moroccan meatballs with egg”

  1. It was, Kristi – the only thing was I needed the Bear to take the photo of the meatballs! … I have just looked at your blog and seen your collection of low calorie recipes… I shall be popping in regularly to see what I can make. They look fabulous!

  2. Yummilicious babe – I lurrrve meatballs, i’m just not sure I could stick to just one portion…!

  3. That, dear Lolly, is the problem of making delicious low calorie food. I dare say we could stop at one portion of celery and cottage cheese but this was deeeeeelish! Still, looking on the bright side, two portions of this will still be less in terms of calories than one portion of normal calorie food?

  4. Looks great, something I would try provided I could fine the Ras-el Hanout Spice Blend. Will check out a couple of local shops to see what I can find.

  5. Looks like lots of fun making them…rolling them into balls 😀 I love meatballs. They are so versatile…can be cooked in all ways and still come out delicious.

  6. Looks yummy – can’t wait to try, just one question: Do you think it is absolutely necessary to put breadcrumbs in meatballs? I tend not to, but sometimes they crumble…
    Well ok 2 questions – as per Evan@swEEts – what’s in the spice mix?

  7. Under 400 calories for something like this? It looks packed with flavour – thanks for sharing the recipe and looking forward to more low calorie posts until bikini season (in Sydney of course!).

  8. Angela… the breadcrumbs will help stick it together – could you use cormenal/polenta/grits instead? That would swell slightly and help bind things, I think.
    Evan and anyone else who wonders about Ras El Hanout – that is a Moroccan spice blend, meaning ‘Top of the Shop’ and the spice sellers used their best spices…. anything and everything. I shall find a link and recipe and insert it in the post!
    Trissa… yes, under 400. But that is only if uou eat just a quarter of the prepared dish….it’s supposed to serve 4…

  9. Right… I have edited the post and put a link in to a recipe foe Ras-El Hanout. Have a Google yourselves and see if any of the other thousands of recipes are more to your fancy. Katie – those chickpeas gave a lovely, soft counterpoint to the spicy tomatoey sauce. And they are healthy, too!
    Lesley… easy peasy. You will like it. Just ramp up the spice mix for your particular love of heat.. just taste as you make it and add more as you go. You will loveRas-El Hanout! And remember, this is a DIET!!! Hahahaa!

  10. Wendy, I can’t believe this is only 377 calories; this is like a miracle dish! Mmmmmmmmmm I could go a big bowl of it right now, it looks like good comfort food! I’ll need to have a gander at your 400 cal section, I’ve been such a wee fatty of late!

  11. Although I didn’t have all of the ingredients, I still had to give this recipe a try on Friday. It was delicious!!!
    My husbands comment ‘Mmmm can we have this again please?’

  12. This is quite interesting. Growing up, my parents never added egg’s into the meat ball mix; nor did they ever precook the onions =). As corny as it sounds, this has opened up a whole new door to meatball exploration for me =)

  13. I think I would always cook the onions as it makes them sweeter and gives everything a more rounded flavour – but then, you see, I don’t like raw onion. Do try, Uthman, adding egg as it binds the bread crumbs and the meat and makes for a very tender and juicy meatball! I bet you’ll like it!

  14. This is now one of my staple recipes! I have made it 6 or 7 times now. Delicious every time!
    I did it once without cooking the onions once – trying to save time, but the meatballs did not ‘mould’ well and fell apart. I also think I have used too much onion, and have noticed W says she used midget ones, so I would say half a large onion, cooked.

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