Wednesday, 10 June 2009

North African influenced Vegetarian meatballs

Over the past few days we have had potato in all its guises: as crisps, jacket potatoes, chips, boiled and roasted. Yesterday D was like no more potatoes, no more potatoes for the next few days please, hence the previous pasta dish, and today’s dish of North African influenced Vegetarian meatballs in tomato sauce which was served with cous cous, but it would be equally good with potato wedges.
I know it doesn’t look that great in the dish, but it does taste good. This is one recipe, I would make if my brothers came up, they would appreciate it and feel like they are getting something that looks like meat, even if it does not taste of it.

North African influenced vegetarian meatballs in tomato sauce
Serves 4
For the vegetarian meatballs
Makes about 20 balls
170g light TVP mince
375ml stock made with 1 tablespoon of bouillon powder
1 medium onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
75g Manitoba flour or vital wheat gluten
1 tablespoon of dried mint
Salt and pepper to taste
1 generous teaspoon of freshly ground cumin
Coriander or mint for garnish

Additional oil for frying

Begin by reconstituting the TVP mince by pouring the stock over the granules, then covering tightly with plate and letting it sit for 10 minutes.

In a large pan, saute the onions and garlic in oil over gentle heat until translucent and soft. About 10-15 minutes. Then add mint and cumin and cook for a few minutes.

Remove from heat mix in the flour and seasoning. Let sit until cool enough to handle.

With your hands, form balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Use a lot of pressure when forming your balls.Lightly fry them in a small amount of oil, rolling them around in the pan to brown on all sides. Set aside until you are ready to use them with your dish.

For the tomato sauce
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 onions, minced
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
100g fresh coriander leaves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 6 – 8 eggs. Omit eggs for vegans.

To make the sauce: in a large saucepan over low heat, combine all the ingredients. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Transfer the sauce to an ovenproof dish.

Preheat oven to gas mark 400.

Add meatballs to tomato sauce.

If using, break the eggs over them, try not to break the yolks. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until the eggs are set and the yolks are still runny.

Garnish with coriander or mint and serve immediately.

Adapted from: Vegetarian Table: North African; and Just the Food blog


  1. Great recipe! I love veggie meatballs and these sound especially good. The baked eggs are a neat touch.

  2. Yeah, I am glad I stumbled across them. So adaptable too!

  3. I'm not sure I want to try TVP (what is TVP??) but I'm up for trying the sauce as a new variant on real meatballs of which I am huge fan :)

  4. Hi goodshoeday,

    TVP stands for Textured vegetable protein. TVP is basically defatted soya flour which has been processed and dried to give a substance with a sponge-like texture which may be flavoured to resemble meat. It is a meat substitute used by vegans and vegetarians alike.

    I am not a superfan of it either, in fact I am not much of a fan of any kind of 'meat substitute', but now and again, I do like to indulge in it, thats the experimental cook in me.

    It is not to everyones taste, whethere your a vgan, veggie or meat-eater.

    I hope the sauce works well with 'real meatballs'. Enjoy.


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