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M'touem b'marqa hamra | Algerian Meat and Meatballs in Garlicky Red Sauce

بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

M'thouem (also spelled mtewem) is a trypical Algerian Ramadanques dish. It's a gogo recipe in any Algerian cook's répertoire. Slightly spicy, scented with a hint of cumin the meat just melts in your mouth. M'thouem can be prepared with the Algerian white sauce or as I have today with my preferred red sauce. Don't be alarmed by the FULL head of garlic  in this recipe.  It mellows out as it cooks imbuing the finished sauce with a subtle flavor. You won't regret it believe me!

Two quick notes: I like to brown my meatballs before adding them into the sauce as I find the meatballs break down a bit in sauce if I don't. And it's traditional to add the almonds into the sauce while it cooks, I prefer the taste of crunchy toasted almonds that I sprinkle on before serving. It's your choice - add in your sauce cooks or sprinkle on at the end!

Algerian meat and meatballs in garlicky red sauce
active prep time: 10-15 mins | inactive prep time: 0 mins| cook time: 45 mins 
serves 4 - 6 people


  • 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, soaked overnight 
  • 1 handful of blanched almonds or toasted sliced almonds
  • 3 TBS oil
  • black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • water
  • 500g -1lb ground beef
  • 1 medium sized egg
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs 
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • half head of garlic
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup water
PREPARE the meatballs by kneading the ground meat in a large bowl. Add little, few tablespoons and knead in until it's incorporated into the meat. Continue to gradually knead in the water until you've used up all the water; Doing this step you'll get the most tender meat. Now combining all the beef, egg, breadcrumbs, garlic and spices in a large bowl.

OIL your hands, then form walnut sied meatballs. Transfer to a platter for later.

BROWN the meatballs pieces in the oil a large sauce pan or tadjine. Remove and set aside.

ADD in the onions into the pot and saué until golden. Add the garlic, meatballs, chickpeas, spices and tomato paste into the pan. And then add enough water to cover.

COOK on a low fire for about 20 minutes, or until the meat is tender.

ONCE the meatballs are cooked through, remove the meatballs and continue to reduce the sauce for an additional 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened a bit..

TOAST the almonds in a dry frying pan and set aside to cool.

ONCE the sauce has slightly thickened, transfer into your serving platter then sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

Serve with freshly homemade bread and optionally a roasted pepper or Hmiss on the side.

There is another dish very similarly to this one M'thouem el Rais where the sauce blanc which this same dish is prepared. To make this dish, all you need to do is omit the tomato paste and sweet paprika.

Algerian, Main Dishes - Red Meat & Poultry, Ramadan

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  1. Salam alaikum henia

    I'm cooking this right now, using lamb instead of beef and no almonds but I still can't wait to taste.
    JazakAllah khair for this much loved recipe.


  2. You really know your stuff. As an Algerian and someone who loves great food I really appreciate your authentic Algerian recipes. Algerian cuisine is very rich and diverse but very little known in English speaking country , unlike its Moroccan counterpart. Thank you for bringing this cuisine to light ! Salam! Cheers!

  3. im gonna try this today as my daughter don't want to eat rice.... this will be nice with bread. I'll let u know the result.

  4. I cooked it for my algerian fiance and he us thrilled. Thank you for the recipe.i will try other recipe.

  5. I cooked it for my algerian fiance and he us thrilled. Thank you for the recipe.i will try other recipe.

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