Today I take you to Marrakech, the red city of the desert, the Mother of all oasis! We went to the fruit and veg’ souk to choose the ingredients for a very typical Marrocan soup in the warm colours of the flag.
Diced vegetables for a stunning mix of colours
- Split-peas, one cup
- Water, 5 cups
- Carrots, 2 diced
- Red onions, 2 diced
- Cumin, 2 Tbsp
- Parsley , chopped to taste
- Lemon, ½ squeezed
- Salt and pepper
- Bay leaves, 2
First wash and chop all the vegetables.
Then melt the onions in a pan (with lid) and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Cook until brownish.
Add the well rinsed split-peas, the diced carrots and churn all into the hot oil for a few minutes.
Add the cumin and the bay leaf with the 5 cups of water.
Season with pepper and a little salt ( I prefer to add the rest of the salt at the end).
Leave on a medium heat for 45 min to one hour. Remove the bay leaves. Check the tenderness of the split-peas and carrots. Serve with parsley and lemon juice . Add salt or water if necessary.
Good food is a journey in itself, it bears a story, it stirs your soul. It takes you away and back…
For this I advise you to use a proper pointy tagine dish but a heavy pan with lid will do if you can not have the real thing. The pointy shape of the dish does concentrate flavours wonderfully and makes a great centrepiece on the dinner table. Do not forget to soak the unglazed underside of the tagine prior to using it to avoid cracking in the feat. I use a heat diffuseur as well over the hob.
A moroccan tagine
- M’rouzia (or Ras El Hanout), 1 tbsp
- Chicken stock, 1 large glass
- Passata, 100m
- Olive oil
- Pomegranate syrup, 2 Tbsp
- Diced chicken, 1 with bones and skin
- Celery heart,1 diced
- Carrots, 3 or 4
- Prunes, one handful
- Roasted almonds, one handful
- Parsley and coriander to serve.
Fry the chicken in a pan with a little olive oil and turn each morsel a few times for about 15 minutes. Toss the M’rouzia mix over and roll the chicken in the spices until coated, add some salt, then reserve.
Lay the sliced onion at the bottom of the dish, place the chicken bits over. Cut up the celery heart and the carrots lengthwise and pile on.
Drain the chicken juice from the frying pan into a jug, add the passata, some more spice mix (M’rouzia is a current favourite but Ras el Hanout is good too). Then blend in some pomegranate syrup or grape molasses – in sale from any good middle-eastern grocer. You should have about 250ml of liquid. Add a bit of water if you need too, then pour it all over the meat and vegetables.
Cover and cook on low heat for 45 min to 1 hour. Add the prunes at the end and give a little more heat for 5 minutes. Check the liquid level: the juice must be thick and reduced but still there to give moisture to the dish.
To serve, sprinkle with chopped parsley and coriander, a small amount of roasted almonds and 3 tbsp of fresh pomegranate seeds. The mixed fruity and nutty flavours are great against the saltiness of the meat!
You can serve it on it own or with steamed bulgur wheat. I love bulgur and it loves me back: it is impossible to fail and I really like its rough nuttiness better sometime than a silky couscous.
Berrirs or Baghrirs are thick but cloud like pancakes that are consumed in Morocco, with a honey and butter sauce, for breakfast – or for pudding during Ramadan. They have a chewy and supple bite and keep only for 24h, but they rarely last that long.
Al fresco breakfast
- Warmed Water 1l
- Fresh bakers yeast 2 tsp
- Milk 2 tbsp
- Eggs 2
- Flour 100g
- Semolina 250g
Heat the water in the Thermomix bowl until touch warm. About 3min at 80 degrees will do.
Put all the ingredients in the mixing bowl of the Thermomix.
Mix at speed 4 or 5 for 4 /5 minutes.
Leave to rise until the mixture thickens and tiny bubbles appear on the surface. 15 minutes to start with.
If the mix is too thin, whisk some more and leave for a few minutes. It should have the appearance of a light custard and create a ribbon when the spoon is dipped in.
Heat a pancake grid or a cast iron plate on the hob and drop ladle-fuls of the batter to form round pancakes, the size of a pudding plate. They cook on one side and lots of bubbles appear on the top side.
Serve warm with some butter melted in honey. I thank Chaibia and Noheed for their kind help in teaching me this family recipe with patience and generosity…
Another recipe from the family archive!
- Neck and shoulder of lamb, 2kg – diced
- Garlic, 4 cloves
- Onion, 1 chopped
- Rosemary, a small bouquet
- Salt and pepper
- Prunes, a big handfull – stoned and soaked
- Water to cover
- Dash of olive oil
- Ras-el-hanout 1 Tbsp
- Cumin, 1 Tbsp
- Fresh ginger, 1 small chunk
- Cinnamon stick
- Coriander and parsley to finish
Use a deep pan or cocotte with a lid. A heavy cast iron one is best.
Chop and fry the onion and garlic and then brown the meat in the oil.
Cover the meat with water and bring to a boil. Add the prunes but without the stones. Add the spices, generously. Ras-el-hanout is a typical morroccan spice mix. You can find it in London in the Spice shop in Portobello (see my Addresses page).
Put in the oven at 180 and keep covered for 1 and a half hour to 2 hours.
Before serving, give it a last boil on the stove, garnish with fresh parsley and coriander. I have got plenty of herbs growing in pots on my balcony this year and I am loving this new pursuit…
Who needs a garden?!
The meat must be really tender so it cuts up with a fork, and heady with spices : you serve it with a buttered couscous or a bulgur grain. Tonight, I am using quinoa for a change! It is a high protein grain and it works well with lots of meaty sauce…
Table set, champagne chilled… Just waiting for our guests to arrive.
Sorry no photo: It was eaten up before I thought of it…
Tagine of lamb shanks and quinces
The point of a tagine is melting meat and fragrant spices, slowly cooked in a traditionnally pointy dish with a lid so all the flavours remain as deep and intense as possible.
Ingredients list :
Peel the quinces and cut them in quarters. Boil the quinces in the sugar with the cinnamon bark until the flesh is soft. Put aside.
Lamb shank 1 for each guest
Safran a few strands
Raz el hanout (from moroccan stores)
Salt and pepper
Cinnamon 1 Tbsp
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
Coriander and parsley, 1 small bunch
Chop the onions and brown them in a cooking pot with a bit of olive oil. Add the meat and the herbs, cover with the stock (or water with a stock cube) and cover. Put in the oven for 2 hours at 160˚. Tagines are one of the most fragrant dishes and spices need to be generously used there. Make sure you hit the right level – but not too high !
When the meat is ready, serve with the quinces and pour the warm syrup over the lamb and fruit. Sprinkle the chopped coriander and parsley before serving.
This is a festive dish, perfect for the season and I love the fact that each guest gets its own lamb shank : my favorite lamb cut because it is so moist and tasty…
Beautiful golden quinces from the fruit market!
Posted in winter
Tagged morocco, quinces