Algerian Mtewem Marqa Hamra, Algerian Garlicky Meat Balls in Red Sauce

BC7A2561-4F54-4B49-A9A5-AD9FC88B429C 5

Today, I made Mtewem, which means garlicky in Arabic. This dish is originally from the capital city of Algiers and the original recipe is made with white sauce.

In my family we always make this dish with a spicy red sauce. This dish consists of meatballs filled with garlic and cumin, extremely aromatic. So popular during the Holy Ramadan.

Ingredients: (for the sauce)

  • 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • Handful of chickpeas soaked overnight
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of harissa (optional)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of red sweet paprika

Ingredients: (for the meatballs)

  • 400g of minced beef
  • 5 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • 1 teaspoon of red sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 egg
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 spoon of harissa (optional)
  • Water


  1. In a bowl, add the minced beef,  the smashed garlic cloves, the ground cumin, the paprika, the black pepper, the harissa and the egg.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together.
  3. Form walnut sized meatballs and transfer them in a plate and set aside.
  4. In a large deep skillet add the sunflower oil over a medium heat.
  5. Add the garlic, the chickpeas, the paprika, the salt, the black pepper and the harissa.
  6. Stir all the spices together then add the meatballs.
  7. Stir all the meatballs together then pour the water.
  8. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  9. When the sauce is reduced remove the skillet from the stove.
  10. Serve the meatballs and pour the sauce on the top.

Best when eaten with Khobz Edar (Algerian home made bread).

Bonne dégustation and Saha ftourkoum!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. When I read “red sauce” I think tomato, but this is actually a paprika sauce and so must be quite different. Otherwise it does remind me of Spanish albóndigas.

    1. Absolutely, sweet paprika but the original recipe is made with white sauce and cinnamon. Really nice too!

  2. sherry says:

    who doesn’t love a meatball? Always delicious! these look fabulous. I love chickpeas, and i’m happy to see there is no tomato in the red sauce. keep well

  3. Thank you very much for your nice comment!
    Have a nice week,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s