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Mtewem / M’thouem

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Mtewem / M’thouem ~ An Algerian dish of meatballs and chickpeas in a red sauce packed full of garlic and finished with toasted flaked almonds.

First things first, you have to really like garlic (3/4 of a bulb in 1 dish type like garlic) to enjoy Mtewem.

I’ve come to know Mtewem, also spelled M’thouem is sometimes made with a ‘white’ sauce i.e. without tomato paste or paprika BUT as both these ingredients pair well with garlic and because I like my dishes colourful I kept them.

I adapted my recipe from The Teal Tadjine, Hénia adds breadcrumbs, eggs to bind and water when making the meatballs to make sure they remain moist. Whilst I have nothing against adding breadcrumbs to meatballs, I know someone who has so, I left all three out as eggs and water seemed redundant now I wasn’t using breadcrumbs. I also reduced the amount of meat and garlic to make fewer meatballs as I wanted to serve fewer people.

The flaked almonds give this dish added texture and they are good for your health, win-win.

Mtewem I’m told is often served during Ramadan in Algeria so I plan on adding it this year to my relaxed menu here in the UK, in shaa Allah.


    • 250g minced beef (or lamb)
    • 1/4 tsp cumin
    • quarter head of garlic
    • salt, to taste
    • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • half head of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 large handful of chickpeas, pre-soaked and cooked
  • 1 handful of toasted flaked almonds
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • water


  1. Make the meatballs: In a large bowl mix together beef mince, egg, garlic and spices.
  2. Oil hands then form walnut sized meatballs (i used a tablespoon of meat mix per meatball) Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Make Sauce : In a large sauce pan over low-medium heat add oil then onions and saué until soft and golden. Add the garlic, chickpeas, spices and tomato paste and continue to cook for a minute or two before adding meatballs into the pan and then add enough water to cover, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook on a low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the meat is tender.
  4. Once the meatballs are cooked through, remove the meatballs and set aside. Continue to reduce the sauce for an additional 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened a bit. Whilst sauce is reducing toast the almonds in a dry frying pan and set aside to cool.
  5. Once the sauce has slightly thickened, transfer into your serving platter then sprinkle with the toasted almonds and serve.

Source: http://www.halalhomecooking.com

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