“Throughout my travels in Morocco I saw countless numbers of different tagines, each reflecting the local ingredients and influences. This fish version rounds up the flavours of the coastal city of Essaouira. If you’re not a big fan of sardines, make the balls using all white fleshed fish fillets, such as blue eye.” Shane Delia, Shane Delia’s Moorish Spice Journey






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (13 votes)


Chermoula paste

  • 75 g garlic cloves
  • 75 g red Asian shallots
  • 15 g coriander seeds
  • 15 g cumin seeds
  • 50 g preserved lemon, flesh discarded
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil


Pan-fried potato bread

  • 500 g baking potatoes, such as ranger russets or desiree, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 125 ml (½ cup) milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dried instant yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 525 g (3½ cups) plain flour, approximately
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse semolina, for rolling
  • olive oil, for pan-frying



  • 200 g sardine fillets, all bones removed, minced (ask your fishmonger to do this)
  • 300 g skinless and boneless firm white-fleshed fish fillets (such as blue eye), minced
  • 8 garlic cloves, 2 finely chopped, 6 thinly sliced
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, halved lengthways, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, zest grated
  • 55 g (½ cup) dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 whole banana shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, grated
  • 1 litre saffron water (see Note)
  • 2 carrots, grated


Fresh chermoula salad

  • 1 cup picked flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 cup picked coriander leaves
  • 1 cup picked mint leaves
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Proving time 1 hour

To make the chermoula paste, place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until needed.

To make the potato bread, cook the potato in a large saucepan of lightly salted water until tender. Drain well, then pass through a food mill or ricer and place in a large bowl.

Place the milk and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until warm. Remove from the heat, then stir in the yeast and stand for 15 minutes or until foamy. Add the eggs, flour and olive oil to the potato and combine well. Pour in the yeast mixture and knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary to keep the dough from becoming too sticky. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, then cover and stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, to make the kefta, combine the minced fish, chopped garlic, chilli, mint, turmeric, paprika, parsley, lemon zest and half the breadcrumbs in a bowl and combine well. If the kefta feel a little wet, add some more of the remaining breadcrumbs. Roll into golf ball-sized rounds.

Heat the olive oil in a tagine or a wide, deep frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, cook the kefta until browned on one side. Turn, then add the halved banana shallots and sliced garlic, reduce the heat to low and cook for 4-5 minutes or until soft and golden. Add the tomato and saffron water, then add the carrot, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.

Punch down the potato bread dough, then divide into 12. Lightly dust a work surface with semolina, then roll out each portion of dough into 2 cm-thick rounds. Pour 1 cm of oil into a large, heavy-based frying pan and place over medium heat. When hot, cook the breads, in batches for 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on a paper-towel lined tray and keep warm.  

To make the chermoula salad, place all the ingredients in a bowl, then add 1 tablespoon of chermoula paste and toss gently. 

As soon as the kefta are ready, serve scattered with the chermoula salad with the warm potato breads for dipping.



• To make the saffron water, dissolve a pinch of saffron threads and 1 tsp saffron powder in 1 litre of boiling water.

• The chermoula paste will make more than you need for this dish, but it will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.


Shane Delia's Moorish Spice Journey starts Thursday 15 October 2015 at 8pm on SBS and finishes 17 December 2015. Visit the Shane Delia's Moorish Spice Journey program page to catch-up on episodes online, scroll through recipes and read our interview with Shane.