Beef Rib and Meatball Stew (T’fina Pkaila)

Beef Rib and Meatball Stew or T’fina Pkaila is a Tunisian dish prepared with beef ribs, meatballs, Spinach, white beans and onions.

In Tunisia this dish T’fina Pkaila, also known by the name of T’fina d’epianrds is served during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The name night sound Arabic but this is a fully Jewish dish, Judeo-Tunisian Arabic to be precise, and this is where the dish originated, from the Tunisian Jews. Traditionally it does not look like anything in the photo above, because it is cooked with a slimy green vegetable called melloukhia which looks like a spinach and that makes the dish deep green in colour. This vegetable grows in Egypt hence when the Tunisian Jews migrated to Israel ingredients like such was replaced with a spinach and calf foot combination to basically emulate the gelatinous slimy texture from melloukhia. Since then collagen rich beef cuts are used where it is slowly cooked with dried beans until tender then Osbane (a spicy meat loaf stuffed in an intestine) and spinach is added. Pkaila is usually accompanied by couscous but can also be served without it, instead a Tunisian bread aka ‘Italian bread’ can be used instead.

Before even you comment that this is not a traditional T’fina Pkaila, I know that fact and we are preparing an almost similar dish with ingredients available to me, hence meatballs are home-made flavouring it with tons of coriander and paprika to make it taste similar. It’s such a nice soup, very hearty and meaty and with this version that we are posting today while you can enjoy them with couscous or a crusty bread, rice can also be a good substitute.

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Beef Rib and Meatball Stew (T'fina Pkaila) 1

Beef Rib and Meatball Stew (T’fina Pkaila)

  • Author: Raymund
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Tunisian


Beef Rib and Meatball Stew or T’fina Pkaila is a Tunisian dish prepared with beef ribs, meatballs, Spinach, white beans and onions.




  • 700 g beef ribs
  • 250 g baby spinach
  • 400 g can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil


  • 500 g minced beef, 15% fat
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt
  • olive oil


  1. Prepare your meatballs, in a bowl combine all meatball ingredients apart from olive oil. Form into meatballs then set aside.
  2. In a pan heat olive oil then cook meatball until browned all over. Remove from pan then set it aside.
  3. Generously season ribs with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. In a pot heat oil then brown beef ribs on all sides. Remove from pot then set aside.
  5. Add garlic and onions to the pot then sauté in low heat until onions caramelize.
  6. Add the ribs back and pour the beef stock, bring to a boil then simmer in low heat for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  7. Add the meatballs and cook for 20 more minutes in low heat.
  8. Add the beans and spinach then continue to cook for 5 more minutes.
  9. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.



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