The Jew And The Carrot

Shabbat Dinner: Mamie's Moroccan Meatballs and Peas

By Anne Cohen

  • Print
  • Share Share
Thinkstock

Every family has that one dish. The one that makes your stomach grumble in anticipation, that brings up childhood memories of crowded Shabbat dinners and cozy one-on-one gabfests with bubbe (or Mamie, as I call my grandmom).

In my family, that dish is boulettes aux petits pois (meatballs with green peas). Like any comfort food, it soothes, satisfies and cajoles the stomach into submission. Moroccan cuisine isn’t lacking in amazing dishes. Couscous royal piled high with dried fruits dripping with honey, nuts, vegetables and fall-off-the-bone tender lamb is also pretty high on my list. But there is something about this simple meatball and green pea stew that makes me salivate.

More than any other, it’s a dish that symbolizes home. Far from its origins in northern Morocco, it the recipe traveled with my grandmother to Montreal. It has since traveled from her kitchen to places near and far: 770 miles east to Halifax via plane where my brother fed his entire dorm at Dalhousie University; west to Ottawa, where my cousins rushed towards the sounds of Mamie clattering in the kitchen during a visit; south to New York, where I smuggled frozen Tupperware filled with thick, gooey goodness past airport security (sorry TSA) in order to hold on to one last taste of family.

Whenever one of us calls to say we’re coming to town, the reaction is always the same: “What do you want me to make?” And the answer, after a slight pause (mostly for show) to consider all the options, invariably is: “You know. Boulettes aux petits pois!”

The dish even made a memorable appearance during a three-month stay in Paris last summer. After weeks gorging on baguette, steak-frites, brioches (with just the right amount of sprinkled sugar) and other Gallic delights, I began to crave habit. Wandering through the Marché de la Bastille one Sunday, about a block from my apartment, I caught a whiff something familiar — could it be?

It was. Three stalls away, a little old Moroccan lady sat under a tarp, stirring a huge steaming pot of boulettes. Overcome with excitement, I rushed over, thanked her profusely for existing and took home a large container — an experience to be repeated many times over the following weeks. Even in the height of summer, the stew-like dish was the perfect comfort food (and can be eaten cold, as I found out when my microwave lost the will to live).

It wasn’t as good as my Mamie’s but it tasted like home.

Celia Benhamou’s Boulettes Aux Petits Pois

Meatballs

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1 onion
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
3 sprigs chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
1 pinch of all spice
1 teaspoon of olive oil

Peas

1 pack of frozen peas
2 shallots, sliced
1 carrot

1) Pour meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Lather a bit of olive oil on your hands and roll the meat into golf-ball-sized balls. Place on a plate lined with tin foil.

2) Add 2-3 tablespoon canola oil into a deep pot. Once hot, add in the shallots and cook until golden. Cut the carrot into cubes and add in, along with the peas and cook on medium heat. Cover until the water from the frozen peas has evaporated.

3) Boil 2 cups of water in a separate pot and mix in a pinch of saffron or curcuma. Simmer the meatballs until firm and move them with a slotted spoon into the pot with peas, stirring gently.

4) Let the whole thing simmer, periodically stirring the mixture so that the meatballs are covered by the peas (be careful not to crush them). When almost all the water has been absorbed, remove from the fire and add salt to taste.

Serves 4 (in bubbe portions).


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: shabbat recipes, moroccan jewish recipes, boulettes aux petits pois, Shabbat meals

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.