Senegal, Morocco and Spain have a long history of trading recipes. Here are Moroccan kefta inspired lamb meatballs, spiced and filled with goat cheese-perfect snack food for grilling and great for parties. The mint-yogurt sauce for dipping was inspired by the Lebanese community that’s been living in Senegal for several generations.
Although the origin of meatballs is unknown, recipes go back to the 4th and 5th century. They most likely originated from Kefta and were cited in early Arabic cookbooks featuring lamb rolled into orange sized balls. From the Arabic world they most likely spread to Morocco, Spain, Italy and into Africa. Chef Thiam’s meatballs made with our grass-fed lamb or goat and stuffed with goat cheese are sure to wow your guests!
This recipe is used with permission from Chef Pierre Thiam. Find more of his recipes in his book Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl and on his website.
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
1 cup fresh goat cheese
- Combine the ground lamb, parsley, cilantro, mint, onion, cumin, cayenne, paprika, black pepper, eggs, and salt in a large bowl and mix well.
- Tightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Using your hands make a round meatball the size of a golf ball then slightly flatten it into a disk.
- Put a pinch of goat cheese in the center and carefully wrap the meat around it gently reshaping it into a ball.
- Repeat until all the meatballs are filled with goat cheese.
- Refrigerate again for an hour to firm up until ready to cook.
- Preheat the grill or broiler to hot.
- Grill the meatballs or place them on a baking sheet to broil. You may also pan-fry them in a few tablespoons of oil.
- Cook, turning a few times, until all sides are browned–7 to 8 minutes.
- Serve immediately with the yogurt sauce for dipping.
Serve from the paper or on a platter with baguette chunks, extra mustard and kani sauce on the side.
1 cup plain full-fat Greek-style yogurt
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Combine the yogurt, mint, garlic, lemon juice and oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.