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Lentil with Lamb Meatballs

Updated: May 20, 2021

I made this dish two ways — One batch I added sliced red cabbage and omitted it in the other. I personally preferred the batch that didn’t have the red cabbage. I original recipe had cabbage on it’s list of ingredients. For my taste, the cabbage was too tangy with the lentil. I mixed the lamb with a merguez spice mix for extra flavor( see recipe below.)

Merguez spice mix is a mixture often used in North Africa to flavor lamb or beef sausage. This sausage is often used in couscous dishes. I enjoy adding the mix to ground lamb in different ways. For example, I like sprinkling it onto lamb chops, grill them and serve it with yogurt sauce during the summer. It’s also a great spice mix to use on pizza with grated halloumi cheese.

For this recipe, I mixed lamb with the spice mixture, made golf ball sized meatballs and added it to the lentil dish about 10 minutes before serving.


  • 4 cups water

  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped

  • 1 leek, chopped

  • 1 cup black lentils

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced (optional)

  • 1 lb. ground lamb

  • 2 tablespoons merguez spice

  • Salt and pepper

Merguez spice:

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

Yields: serving for 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


  1. Add all of the merguez spice mixture into a spice grinder. Grind into a powder.

  2. Mix 2 tablespoons with the ground lamb and save the rest in a spice jar.

  3. Form the meat into golf ball sized meatballs.

  4. Place them on a baking sheet and cook in a 350°F oven for 25 minutes.

  5. Add the water and lentils in a Dutch oven, and cook on medium heat for 30 minutes.

  6. Add the carrots, leek and bay leaf.

  7. Cover and let simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Test the lentil to ensure it’s tender.

  8. Add cabbage if using. Cook for 10 minutes.

  9. Add the lamb and cook for 10 minutes.

  10. Season to taste. Serve with a side salad.

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