For the spice blend:
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
For the meatballs and eggs:
- 1 pound ground lamb or beef
- 2 slices good-quality stale bread, crusts removed, processed into fresh breadcrumbs
- 5 eggs, 1 for meatballs, 4 for poaching and serving (optional)
- 1 medium onion, 1/4 onion grated and juiced, 3/4 onion chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, 2 minced or pasted, 2 sliced, divided
- A small handful of fresh mint leaves, leaves picked and finely chopped
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- Few grates nutmeg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
- 1 small zucchini, sliced on an angle or chopped
- 1 can diced tomatoes (28 ounces)
- 1 can tomato sauce (8 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Spice Blend or Ras el hanout
- 1 can chickpeas (14 ounces)
- A handful of cilantro, leaves stripped and chopped
- Whole wheat couscous, prepared according to package directions or buttered warm flatbread, for serving
Cook's Note: Only one egg only is required for meatballs; the four additional eggs are to poach in sauce before serving, which is optional.
To make the spice blend: Combine the cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cayenne pepper and ground cloves and store in an airtight container away from heat for up to several months.
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
Arrange a wire cooling rack over a large baking sheet and place near a large mixing bowl. Place a bowl of warm water nearby.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat, breadcrumbs, 1 egg, lightly beaten, 2-3 tablespoons grated onion and juice, 2 cloves minced garlic, mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper and a liberal drizzle of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Roll the meat into walnut-size balls with dampened hands (use the bowl of warm water) and arrange the meatballs on the wire rack set over baking tray.
Roast the meatballs until cooked through, 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat more EVOO, a turn of the pan, in a Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion to the pan with the sliced garlic and zucchini. Cook for 7-8 minutes, then add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, honey and spice blend and bring to a bubble. Drain the chickpeas and stir into the sauce. Remove the meatballs from the oven and slide into the sauce. Cool completely and store for a make-ahead meal.
To serve, reheat the meatballs in the sauce. Use about 1 cup water to loosen up the sauce, if necessary. Make four wells in the sauce and drop in the four freshly cracked eggs. Cover the pot and simmer to poach to desired doneness. Scoop the meal into shallow bowls and stir the egg into the meatballs and sauce as you eat.
Cook's Note: This dish is great as-is or serve with whole wheat couscous, prepared according to the package directions, or flatbread warmed then brushed with melted butter.