Kebab Maghdour is a traditional Moroccan dish in which brochette meat is cooked tagine style. Fried or poached eggs are often added as garnish. It’s quick, easy and delicious, and a great recipe to try if you’re new to Moroccan cooking.
Definition of Kebab Maghdour
In Moroccan cuisine, kebab refers to skewers of cubed meat (usually lamb or beef), poultry or fish. It’s the cousin of shish kebab but far from Doner kebab, also known as shawarma.
Now that we know what kebab means, let’s move on to the second word.
Maghdour in Arabic means “betrayed.” Now, there are two stories to explain the reason this word is used. One of them is because we can make the dish using bones left after boning meat intended for real kebab. The bones would have been stripped from most of their meat, leaving only the illusion of taste while the meat is hardly there.
However, the second and more famous story behind the name is that meat, instead of being grilled and served on skewers, is betrayed and ends up in a tagine or pot, where it’s cooked with a sauce. This way, the kebab meat can feed more people than grilled skewers would have.
Ways to Make Kebab Maghdour
Many of us grew up seeing our mothers make kebab maghdour frequently. When unexpected guests came, this dish was more than likely to be served. There are a few ways to go about making it.
The meat for this dish can be:
- char-grilled halfway; to cook the meat from outside then transferred to the pot for the rest of the cooking. In this case, make sure you’ve used a tender cut of meat such as tenderloin.
- cooked in a pot or tagine from scratch.
And, as already mentioned, there is a variation of kebab maghdour with bones (you could use ribs) but it’s not as common as the one with cubed meat.
You can use tender cuts of meat or stewing meat; the only difference is the time it takes to cook until tender (but never medium or rare). Usually lamb or beef is used. You can also use chicken or turkey, although these two are fairly new.
The sauce in kebab maghdour can be made with vegetable and/or olive oil. There’s also a variation with butter called kebab messahhed. The latter requires less onion and is perfect for leftover kebabs which have already been grilled.
As a general rule, kebab maghdour is a meat-only dish. However, cookbook writer H. Dinia mentioned that in Rbati (Rabat) cooking, there are many recipes that fall under this umbrella and many of them have seasonal vegetables added during the cooking. Unfortunately her book on Rbati cuisine is no longer in print.
My Tip for Char-Grilled Flavor
Some recipes call for kebab maghdour to be cooked twice—first the meat is grilled for smoky flavor before it’s added to the pot for the second part of the cooking. But if you can’t do that and still want char-grilled flavor, I suggest you use a bit of smoked paprika or liquid smoke in the seasoning for the meat.
Kebab maghdour - "betrayed kebab" - is one of the easiest Moroccan tagines to make. It's the perfect "last minute" recipe for unexpected guests and it's one of the first recipes we learn as junior cooks. The meat is cooked to buttery tenderness in a thick onion sauce, then topped with fried or poached eggs.
The cooking time in the recipe is for premium cuts of meat that will cook fast. Adjust the timing for cuts that will take longer to reach tenderness. We can cook the meat up to 2 hours in some cases.
- 2.2 lbs boneless leg of lamb, veal or beef (ideally tender cuts), cut into 1" (2.5 cm) cubes
- 1 medium-size onions, grated or finely chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, grated or finally chopped
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper, black and white
- 2 tbsp flat parsley leaves and coriander chopped
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp vegetable and olive oil, mixed
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp salt, to taste
- 1 stick cinnamon (optional)
- 1 tbsp ground sweet paprika (or half smoked paprika and half sweet paprika)
- 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 tsp smen or ghee
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 to 6 eggs (counting half to a whole egg per person)
- 6 tbsp olive oil (in case you are frying the eggs separately)
- 1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley or coriander
Combine the cubed meat with the marinade ingredients. Cover and leave to marinate for 1 to 2 hours. (You can skip this step if you are in a hurry.)
In a pot or a tagine, combine the ingredients for the onion sauce. Add the marinated meat and cook over medium heat, covered. Stir from time to time. You might need to add about 1/4 cup of water but it will depend on how much liquid the onions will render.
The dish is ready when the meat is very tender and the sauce reduced to a thick consistency. Adjust the seasoning at the end.
The cooking time depends on the cuts of meat used and their size. Leg of lamb or beef filet will take only about 30 minutes. Tougher cuts will take longer and will require small additions of water to avoid the sauce reducing too early.
Serve kebab maghdour hot one of the following ways:
Without eggs: You can serve this dish without eggs on top; a sprinkle of chopped parsley will do as garnish.
With fried eggs: Before serving, fry the eggs separately in hot oil and garnish the kebab maghdour with them.
With poached eggs (best done when you serve this recipe in a tagine or a gratin dish): Alternatively, you can poach the eggs directly in the hot simmering sauce. Cook until the yokes are partially set. You can help the whites cook faster by spreading them and inserting them delicately into the sauce.
Add the eggs just before you plan to serve the dish and make sure to cover the pot or tagine so they coagulate from the top as well..
- There are a few versions of kebab maghdour depending on families and regions. It's perfectly fine to add a cinnamon stick to the sauce or turmeric (in which case paprika is not needed). A knob of butter can also be added as it brings texture and richness to the dish.
- While most of the kebab maghdour recipes don't call for ginger, our family recipe does. My personal twist is to add a good pinch of cumin and a hint of cayenne.
- Vinegar can be added while the meat is marinating, especially if you are using chicken or turkey meat (which is a new version of kebab maghdour).
- You can add a few spoons of water to the sauce while simmering if you think the pot is drying from its sauce. However, this dish should be served with a reduced sauce.