Moroccan Ras El Hanout Couscous and Meatballs

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Moroccan Ras El Hanout Couscous and Meatballs

Formal Description

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Moroccan Ras El Hanout Couscous and Meatballs is a delightful North African dish known for its aromatic flavors and rich history. This dish combines fluffy couscous, succulent meatballs, and a fragrant blend of spices. It’s a culinary masterpiece that offers a taste of Morocco’s vibrant culture and heritage.

Historical Background

The history of Moroccan cuisine is a tapestry of diverse influences, reflecting centuries of trade and cultural exchange along ancient trade routes. Ras El Hanout, the spice blend central to this dish, is a testament to this rich history. Its name, which translates to “head of the shop” in Arabic, signifies that it contains the very best spices a shopkeeper has to offer.

Ras El Hanout is believed to have originated in Morocco, where spice merchants would create unique blends to showcase their expertise. The composition of Ras El Hanout can vary, but it typically includes spices like cumin, coriander, cinnamon, paprika, ginger, and cardamom. Some versions might even contain exotic ingredients like rose petals or saffron.


To prepare Moroccan Ras El Hanout Couscous and Meatballs, you will need the following components:

For the Meatballs:

  • Ground meat (usually a mix of beef and lamb)
  • Finely chopped onions
  • Fresh parsley and cilantro
  • Ras El Hanout spice blend
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil for frying

For the Couscous:

  • Couscous grains
  • Chicken or vegetable broth
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

For the Sauce:

  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Garlic cloves
  • Ras El Hanout spice blend
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Optional Garnishes:

  • Slivered almonds
  • Fresh mint leaves

Preparation Steps

Here are the steps to prepare Moroccan Ras El Hanout Couscous and Meatballs:

For the Meatballs:

  1. In a bowl, combine the ground meat, finely chopped onions, fresh parsley, cilantro, Ras El Hanout spice blend, salt, and pepper.
  2. Shape the mixture into small meatballs, roughly the size of a walnut.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  4. Fry the meatballs until they are browned on all sides and cooked through. Remove and set aside.

For the Couscous:

  1. Place the couscous in a large bowl.
  2. Heat the chicken or vegetable broth until it’s steaming but not boiling.
  3. Pour the hot broth over the couscous, drizzle with olive oil, and add a pinch of salt.
  4. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The couscous will absorb the liquid and become fluffy. Fluff it with a fork to separate the grains.

For the Sauce:

  1. In the same skillet used for the meatballs, add a bit more olive oil if needed.
  2. Sauté chopped tomatoes and minced garlic until they soften.
  3. Stir in tomato paste and Ras El Hanout spice blend. Cook for a few minutes to meld the flavors.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To Serve:

  1. Arrange the couscous on a platter.
  2. Place the meatballs on top.
  3. Spoon the tomato sauce over the meatballs.
  4. Optionally, garnish with slivered almonds and fresh mint leaves.

Time Needed

Preparation time for Moroccan Ras El Hanout Couscous and Meatballs is approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your cooking skills. This time includes chopping, shaping meatballs, cooking, and preparing the couscous and sauce. It’s a rewarding dish that’s worth the effort, offering a taste of Morocco’s rich culinary heritage on your plate.

Nutrition Facts and Health Information for Moroccan Ras El Hanout Couscous and Meatballs

Formal Description

Moroccan Ras El Hanout Couscous and Meatballs is not only a delicious dish but also offers a balanced nutritional profile when prepared with lean meats and whole ingredients. Here are the key nutrition facts and health information:

The calorie content of a serving of Moroccan Ras El Hanout Couscous and Meatballs can vary depending on portion sizes, but on average, a serving contains approximately 350-450 calories. This value can fluctuate based on factors such as the size of meatballs and the amount of couscous used.

This dish is a good source of protein, thanks to the meatballs. A serving typically provides around 20-25 grams of protein. Protein is essential for muscle repair and overall body function.

Couscous is a primary source of carbohydrates in this dish. A serving usually contains 30-40 grams of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates provide energy for daily activities.

Couscous also contributes dietary fiber to the dish, aiding in digestive health. A serving might contain 2-4 grams of fiber.

The amount of fat can vary depending on the meat used and cooking methods. Typically, a serving has 10-15 grams of fat. However, this can be adjusted by using lean meats and minimizing oil in cooking.

The sodium content depends on factors like the type of broth and salt added. A serving may have 500-800 milligrams of sodium. If you’re concerned about sodium intake, consider using low-sodium broth and adjusting salt levels to taste.

Vitamins and Minerals:

  • Iron: This dish can be a good source of iron due to the red meat in the meatballs.
  • Vitamin C: The tomato-based sauce provides vitamin C, aiding iron absorption.
  • Various Spices: Ras El Hanout typically includes spices like cumin and coriander, which offer various health benefits and antioxidants.

Health Considerations:

  1. Lean Protein: Opt for lean ground meat or a mix of lean meats to reduce saturated fat content.
  2. Whole Grains: Couscous made from whole wheat adds more fiber and nutrients.
  3. Sauce Control: Be mindful of the amount of tomato sauce and oil used to control calories and fat.
  4. Sodium Awareness: Adjust salt levels, and choose low-sodium broth if you need to watch your sodium intake.
  5. Portion Control: Maintain portion sizes to manage calorie intake.

This Moroccan dish can be a part of a balanced diet when prepared with attention to ingredient choices and portion control. It offers a delightful mix of flavors while providing essential nutrients like protein and carbohydrates.

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