Tami and Maurice Moyal’s Chicken Kefta (Tunisian Meatballs)

These simple-to-prepare chicken meatballs and packed with flavour


Photo: Itamar Ginsburg for the Jewish Food Society

Tami Moyal was born in Tunisia, and immigrated to Israel with her family when she was 10 years old. The eldest of 10 siblings, she learned to cook from her mother. She and husband Maurice (whose parents emigrated from Morocco) joined Shiri Hirsch and her family in Tel Aviv for the Open Kitchen project

Note: Tami’s keftas are coated in eggs and breadcrumbs, fried, and then simmered in a tomato sauce. She always serves them with couscous on the side. This recipe “is the condensed version,” she says. Typically, she stuffs the meatballs into slices of potatoes or eggplant for a dish that’s similar to mafrum. Tami recommends chopping the vegetables in this recipe roughly, so you can feel them in every bite.

Serves: 4-5

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 1 hour


For the keftas:
500g ground chicken breast
¼ cup finely chopped leeks
2 celery stalks with the leaves, chopped
¼ bunch parsley, chopped
¼ bunch dill, chopped
1 egg

50g breadcrumbs

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

½ tbsp sweet paprika

¼ tsp hot paprika (optional)

½ tsp turmeric

1 level tbsp chicken bouillon (optional)

Salt, to taste (if using chicken bouillon, add less salt)

Black pepper, to taste

For frying:

Canola or other neutral oil for deep frying

2 eggs

80ml water

½ cup breadcrumbs, or more, as needed

For the sauce:
60ml oil
1 onion, chopped
10 garlic cloves, chopped
1 level tsp cumin
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
100g tomato paste
400g crushed tomatoes
500ml water


  • Prepare the keftas: Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and thoroughly mix. Cover and let the mixture rest for about 20 minutes, allowing the breadcrumbs to absorb the liquid.
  • Fry the keftas: Heat 1-2 cm of oil in a sauté pan or wide pot over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, prepare two bowls: one with breadcrumbs and another with 2 beaten eggs mixed with water.
  • Shape the mixture into round patties about the size of ping pong balls. Dip each patty in breadcrumbs to cover, coat in the beaten eggs, and place in the hot oil.
  • Fry each kefta approximately 5 minutes on each side and transfer to a tray lined with a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining keftas.
  • Prepare the sauce: Heat the oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until lightly golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper, stirring for a few seconds until fragrant.
  • Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and water, mix well, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low heat, cover, and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  • Assemble the dish: Place the fried keftas in the sauce, and cover. Bring back to a boil and then lower the heat. Cook for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with couscous.

Recipe supplied by Asif 
Find more recipes including those from the Open Kitchen project at Jewish Food Society 

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