It’s been months since I posted my last tajine recipe. Somehow I was not in the mood for a tajine all the time. But today time has come for a new tajine recipe. It’s completely vegan. Tajine with potatoes, green beans, and lentil kefta. The recipe requires only simple ingredients. Moreover are the lentil keftas excellent for processing dry bread, which is too good to throw away.
The idea for this recipe is a mixture of different dishes. On the one hand, there is a dish in my home country that consists of potatoes, beans, and meatballs in a light sauce. On the other hand, Kefta bel maticha (meatballs in tomato sauce) is a popular dish in Morocco. And last but not least the delicious green beans in tomato sauce, which are a popular side dish in the Eastern Mediterranean. So I combined all these three dishes in a tasty vegan tajine with potatoes green beans and lentil kefta.
Kefta is the Moroccan word for minced meat but there are also very similar words in other languages describing ground meat or ground meat patties like köfte or kofta. The lentil keftas are seasoned similar to falafel. They are crispy outside and fluffy inside. They don’t taste like meat, so don’t be disappointed when you expect something vegan that tastes meat-like. But when you like veggies and legumes you will surely love them.
In this recipe, I decided not to season the sauce with the typical chermoula spice mix (cumin, paprika powder, garlic, parsley coriander). Instead, I left out the cumin and substituted parsley and coriander with rosemary and basil. The rosemary went just perfectly with the potatoes and the flavor of the dish was pleasantly light and yet aromatic.
Making the lentil kefta is a bit time consuming as the dough needs time to rest but basically, this dish is easy to make. When you don’t have a tajine clay pot, you can prepare this dish alternatively in a high pan with a lid. The best way to eat tajine is using simply your hands and fresh bread! Enjoy it with some salad and olives as a side dish! Also try my other vegan tajines: tajine with spinach, fava beans & lemon, tajine with caramelized quinces, potatoes & cabbage, and tajine with Swiss chard and potatoes.
for the lentil kefta:
- 100g red lentils
- a small onion
- 1 piece of zucchini (about 50g)
- 1 small carrot
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 small potato
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- salt, black pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- paprika powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, 1 teaspoon each
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley and coriander
- breadcrumbs or chopped dry bread (about 70g)
for the tajine:
- 1-2 green bell peppers depending on size
- 3 medium-size potatoes
- 200g green beans
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tomatoes
- 3 large cloves of garlic
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon paprika powder
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary and basil
- vegetable oil to deep-fry the lentil kefta
- bread and salad to serve
- Let’s start with preparing the lentil kefta since the mass will need some time to rest! Therefore put the red lentils with some water into a pot and cook them for about 15 minutes until soft.
- Meanwhile, peel the carrot, the potato, the onion, and the garlic cloves.
- Next, grate the zucchini, the carrot, the potato, and the garlic on the fine side of the grater. Grate the onion on the rough side of the grater. Put all the veggies into a bowl and add the tomato paste as well as the dry spices.
- When the lentils are tender, drain them and add them immediately to the vegetables in the bowl. Stir everything well and add the bread (or pieces of dry bread) little by little. Don’t add all at once. The bread needs time to absorb the moisture. If you add too much bread add once, the lentil kefta might become too dry in the end. Check the consistency of the lentil kefta dough after 10 minutes and add more bread crumbs if necessary. Let the lentil kefta rest again and check the consistency again. The lentil kefta mass is just right when it is similar to minced meat. It is firm enough to shape it easily into balls but has still some moisture.
- Finally, add the finely chopped parsley and coriander and check the seasoning of the lentil kefta. Set the lentil kefta dough aside, we will deep-fry the kefta later while the tajine is cooking.
- Next, we will prepare the Tajine. For the sauce, blend the tomatoes or grate them. I recommend blending them for a homogenous texture. Unfortunately, my blender broke down recently 🙁 But grating the tomatoes works, too. Then, add salt, pepper, paprika powder, the finely grated garlic cloves, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Give the sauce a good stir and mix in the freshly chopped rosemary and basil. The sauce is ready!
- Now, remove the stalk and the seeds of the bell pepper and halve it lengthwise and widthwise. Pour the remaining olive oil into the tajine. Cover the bottom with the bell pepper pieces (skin side down). The pepper is a kind of protective layer that prevents the other vegetables from burning.
- Peel the potatoes and halve them lengthwise. Place them in a star shape on top of the bell pepper.
- Trimm the edges of the green beans simply using your hands. Green beans can be stringy, so don’t forget to string them. Fill the gaps between the potatoes with the green beans.
- Pour the tomato sauce evenly over the vegetables and add also about 1½ cup of water.
- Cook the tajine on low heat for about 30 minutes with a lid and for ten more minutes without a lid. The veggies should be nice and soft and the sauce partly simmered down.
- While the tajine is on the stove, heat some vegetable oil in a small pot and deep-fry about 16 balls of lentil kefta until nice and brown. As it is difficult to prepare a very small amount of lentil kefta dough, there might remain some of it. You can shape it the next meal into patties and turn it into a delicious veggie burger! Lentil kefta is also great as an appetizer served with a dip!
- Place the fresh lentil kefta on top of the tajine. Enjoy it with fresh bread and a salad!