Mtewem is a traditional Algerian dish, present during the holy month of Ramadan or on great occasions such as weddings.

Most families always make this dish with a spicy red sauce. This dish consists of meatballs filled with garlic and cumin, extremely aromatic.

What is Mthawem?

Mtewem or Mthawem  (Arabic مثوم ) is an Arabic word that means “ with garlic” It is mainly made of meat ( lamb, beef, or even chicken), meatballs ( lamb or beef), and garlic ( Arabic ثوم ). This dish is fragrant with cumin.

This dish is originally from the capital city of Algiers and the original recipe is made with white sauce.

Mtewem Recipe

This delicious dish is made from a large amount of garlic. The dish is also used to add flavor to the meat and cut into medium-sized pieces alongside some salad scented with spices.

Mtewem can be prepared with red sauce or white sauce. I added turmeric to the white sauce as in my opinion it looks and tastes better ( personal choice).

First, prepare the meatballs by mixing all the ingredients and forming walnut-size meatballs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prepare the meat sauce: Put oil and ghee in a large saucepan. Add the minced onion, garlic, meat, chickpeas, cumin, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat, then lower the heat and let cook for a good 10 minutes. Make sure to stir from time to time.

Add boiled water to cover the meat. Increase the heat until the sauce boil then decrease it again to medium.

Let cook for about 30 minutes or until the meat and chickpeas are cooked. Add the meatballs to the sauce and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes on medium-low.

Storage and Reheating

Mthawem can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave on full power (covered) or on the stovetop over medium-low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Be Sure to Try These Other Authentic Algerian dishes!

Be sure to recreate this incredible delicacy that is not only delicious but also full of proteins, fiber, and tons of vitamins like iron and calcium needed for your body. Bon appétit!

Algerian Meatballs in a Chickpea Sauce – Mtewem

LDS’s Mom
Meatballs with chickpea sauce
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Algerian
Servings 4


For the meat sauce

  • 1 lb beef
  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • Chopped parsley for garnish I like to use cilantro

For the meatballs

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg white


  • First, mix the meatballs ingredients (you may not need to use the whole egg white but the mixture should be very soft) and form walnuts size meatballs. Set aside.
  • Prepare the meat sauce: put oil and ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the meat pieces, the minced onion, garlic, chickpeas, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper.
  • Let cook for a good 10 minutes. Make sure to stir from time to time.
  • Cover the meat with boiled water.
  • Let cook covered until the chickpeas and meat are cooked (on medium heat).
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the meatballs.
  • Let cook for about 15 to 20 minutes on low. Adjust the seasoning and add salt if needed. The sauce should be reduced and thickened.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley (I like to use cilantro too).
  • Serve.


You can place a whole almond (blanched) in each meatball, then put the garnished meatballs in the sauce (optional).
Some recipes calls for cinnamon ( I don’t like it in this recipe). You can add cinnamon powder to the meatballs and cinnamon stick to the sauce if you like it.
Previous articleChtitha Batata
Next articleGarantita


Recipe Rating

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Blessing Funmilayo Ogunsanya
Hello, my name is Funmilayo, and i love to write about food, beauty, fashion and wellness. So welcome to my Food world! I share histories, discoveries, uniqueness, tips, and tricks on different dishes .Come let's take this adventure together. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do and hope to see you back here again soon.

Must Try Recipes

You Should Like