Moroccan sardines & burnt aubergine balls tagine.


Prep time: 40 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4 - 6

The sardines balls tagine is one of the most popular dishes in Morocco.  Especially in the coastal towns of the kingdom.

To keep the meatballs tender, we add rice to the sardine kefta.  But in the recipe I’m sharing with you today, of Jewish origin, we’ll add grilled eggplant.

 Not only the meatballs are very tender, but the smoky taste adds a special note to this delicious dish.

The sardine balls are cooked in a slightly spicy tomato sauce (or not according to taste). You can very well add vegetables such as carrots, potatoes or peppers.

This traditional dish is tasty, easy and quick to make, especially if you ask your fishmonger to prepare the sardines for you.

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Moroccan sardines & burnt aubergine balls tagine.

  • Prep time: 40 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Serves: 4 - 6

Nutritious, economical under a dollar a kilo in Morocco, sardines hold a special place in Moroccan cuisine. They are prepared in a tagine like the recipe I’m sharing with you today, grilled or marinated in Chermoula then fried.


Tomato sauce :

  • 600 g tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 garlic clove , grated
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin , powder
  • 1/2 tsp harissa or chilli powder, optional
  • salt and black pepper

Sardines & aubergine balls :

  • 1 Kg sardines , to have 600g once cleaned
  • 1 aubergine , medium size 400g
  • 2 Tbsp fresh coriander , finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley , finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove , grated
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin , powder
  • salt and black pepper

Garnish :

  • 200 g cherry tomatoes red and yellow , cut in half
  • 1 preserved lemon , sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper , peeled and sliced
  • 100 g kalamata olives or just green olives
  • 1 carrot , peeled and cut it into a thin slices
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • fresh coriander

Method :

Tomato sauce :

  • 1)

    First make the tomato sauce :
    cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds, and grate them on the largest holes of a grater over a medium bowl until all that’s left is the skin, discard. And set aside.
    Heat the olive oil in a tagine or a large frying pan which you have a lid. Add the grated tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, the spices add salt and black pepper.

    Simmer for 15 minutes, until the sauce is thick. Taste to adjust seasoning and set aside.

Sardines and aubergine balls :

  • 1)

    Make the sardines balls :
    While the sauce is cooking make the fish balls.

    First prepare the aubergines :
    Place the eggplants/aubergines over a charcoal grill or directly over a gas flame, in this case you need to protect your gas range burner with a layer of foil, which makes for easier cleanup. Cook on a low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally as you go using a tongs. The larger the eggplant, the longer it will take to roast. Once the skin has a nice char, and the eggplant is quite soft to the touch ( use a skewer to check if the inside of the eggplants is cooked, it should be tender) . take it off from heat and place them in a clean resealable plastic bag for few minutes to sweat.

    When cool enough to handle, peel the eggplants, then roughly chop the flesh and put it into a sieve.

  • 2)

    Clean and bone the sardines. As you can ask your fishmonger to clean them for you.


    Put the sardines filets and the aubergines flesh just in a food processor, blitz for few seconds don’t over grind. Place the minced sardines and aubergine in bowl along with herbs, garlic, spices salt and black pepper. Mix everything together very well, then using your hands shape the mixture into a balls (that have a medium size).

  • 3)

    Place the balls gently, side by side, in the tomato sauce. Decorate with cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, olives, carrots and slices of preserved lemon.

    Drizzle 2 Tbsp of olive oil on top, cover and let cook for about 15 minutes. Then remove the lid and let it cook for another 15 minutes. 

  • 4)

    Turn off the heat, sprinkle some fresh coriandre and serve warm with bread.


    Enjoy !!


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