Monday, September 15, 2008

Kefta - Moroccan Meatballs

Classic quick and easy, meatballs are european, asian, african, or moroccan! For the moroccan version, you can use ground beef, lamb, or veal, or a combination (my preference).


1 pound (500 gm) ground beef(lamb, or veal)
2 tsp ground cumin seed
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 onion, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely minced cilantro or fresh parsley, or a combination

3tbsp olive oil, for pan

Mix all but the oil together, using your hands, as gently as possible. Too much handling will make them tough. Form into 1" balls, and lightly brown in the olive oil over medium low heat. Then add

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 onion sliced
2tomatoes, sliced
2 cloves peeled garlic
one green or red pepper, sliced
one jalapeno pepper, in thin slices (optional)

Turn heat to medium high for 3 or 4 minutes, watching carefully, to draw the moisture out from the vegetables. Add

8 or 9 kalamata olives, and 1/4 cup water.

and turn heat to low. Let simmer for 10 minutes, for the flavors to meld.

Serve with bread to absorb the sauce, or with rice on the side.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Serving a Moroccan Dinner

Traditionally a moroccan dinner is several courses in succession - salads, then a chicken tagine, followed by a vegetable tagine, and if it is Friday, an enormous couscous. Other days it would be a meat or fish dish. In modern Morocco, it is more likely to be salads, a variety of two or three, served with a single large tagine.
Bread is very important, and served with every meal. The traditional is a round flat loaf, served in wedges, to absorb the fabulous sauce from the tagine.
Dessert is usually fresh fruit, the best of what is in season - after a full moroccan dinner, nothing else could be managed!
Tea with fresh mint is the completion of the meal.

Recipes for simple single rise moroccan bread, and authentic mint tea, in the next post!

Monday, August 18, 2008

An evening in Fez

The ultimate dining experience - dinner in a palace, with food to match. Fez is famous for the finest of food - the traditions of weddings, banquets, and feasts.

Summer Salads

Cucumber & Orange Salad

This light and refreshing summer salad is so easy to make, a perfect opener on a hot summer day.

2 cups finely shredded lettuce
2 cups grated english cucumber
2 cups grated garden cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 large or 2 small oranges, peeled and chopped in small pieces, reserving the juice.
Mix it all together just before serving, and serve in small individual bowls, garnished with an orange slice if you like.

Moroccan Tomato Salad - a classic take on fresh salsa

1 cup finely chopped red or white onion
1 clove of minced garlic (or more to taste)
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (chinese parsley),
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
(or a combination of the two)
1/2tsp salt - preferably sea salt or fleur de sel
1 tsp ground cumin seed
1tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, minced finely
Mix them together, marinate for 1-2 hours before serving if possible. You can adjust the salad to your taste - a little hot sauce, more garlic, fresh basil if you have it. This is a great side dish for grilled chicken or lamb. Wonderful with burgers or kefta.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Marrakech, the big square, Djeema el Fna. Fabulous food of all descriptions, ready to go.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Couscous Marrakech

One of the best couscous recipes, rich, flavorful, spicy, but only hot if you choose.

Couscous is a semolina based pasta, and like spaghetti, couscous is the name of the pasta and of the completed dish.

For the couscous grain, choose regular or whole-wheat, medium instant couscous. Despite what the package might say, it requires a bit more work than adding boiling water. Good couscous is not instant oatmeal.

For 2 cups of dry couscous, you will need 3/4 cup hot water, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1tbsp olive oil or butter.

Place the couscous in a bowl, add the hot water and salt, and stir. Let it sit for ten minutes to absorb the water. Fluff with a fork or rub with your fingers to separate the grains. Add the butter or olive oil, and rub through the grains gently. Set aside.

The Dish

Couscous Marrakech is best with chicken, but can be adapted to a vegetarian dish by using firm tofu.


500gm boneless chicken breast, cut in strips

1 12oz can chickpeas

two medium onions

one clove garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 cup raisins

3 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tsp paprika

1tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

1tbsp light jam - apricot, peach, or marmalade (this is the trick)

1/4 cup slivered toasted almonds

Traditionally couscous is prepared in a couscousiere, a tall two section pot like a double boiler, allowing you to prepare the main ingredients in the bottom, and steam the couscous grains above it. A simple alternative is to use a steamer over a small pot of boiling water for the couscous, and a heavy bottomed pan or deep skillet to cook the chicken.

Place the chicken strips in a bowl with 1tbsp olive oil, the paprika, cumin, garlic, and black pepper. Mix and let marinate for 15min. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, and set aside. Peel and very coarsely chop the onions. Place the raisins in a small bowl with boiling water just to cover.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan or a deep skillet. Add the chicken, and brown over medium heat. Add the onions and cinnamon, and continue cooking until the onions are translucent. Now drain the raisins, and add to the chicken with the chickpeas, jam, and red pepper flakes. Stir lightly, then add 2 cups hot water. Cover and cook 15min over medium low heat, checking to make sure the liquid doesn't evaporate.

While the chicken is cooking, place the couscous grain in a perforated steamer, over boiling water. Steam for 5 minutes, fluffing with a fork once or twice.

Add the chopped cilantro to the chicken, and taste for seasoning.

Pile the couscous grain on a large round plate, with a well in the center. Drizzle the couscous with some of the sauce from the chicken, and then pile the chicken mixture in the center of the couscous, reserving some of the chickpeas and raisins to garnish the ring of couscous. Gently pour the sauce over the dish, garnish with almonds, and serve.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Moroccan Spices

Spices are an integral part of moroccan cuisine. The subtle blending of spices is what creates the flavors of morocco.

Ras el hanout, "top of the shop", is a premixed blend of cumin, paprika, black and red pepper, cinnamon, saffron, ginger, turmeric, and coriander seeds. The mix varies from shop to shop, and there are unique individual variations - the addition of cloves, rose buds, nutmeg, and other ingredients.

The most commonly used spices are cumin, paprika, pepper, cinnamon, and saffron. In all of the markets in Morocco you will see fresh spices gathered from around the world, sold by weight.

Friday, May 30, 2008

what is a tagine?

A tagine is a dish - i.e. container/cooking vessel, and a dish you eat - just like a casserole, which is the food AND the container it cooks in.

A tagine has been described as a stew, but it is much more sublime than that. Tagines are slow-cooked dishes, cooked in a covered pot so that the steam and flavors don't escape, and the food stays moist. Traditionally made from heavy earthenware, the tagines were cooked over low heat on a charcoal burner. Now they can be cooked over low direct heat on a stovetop, or in the oven.

The method of cooking in a tagine is North African - you will find them in Algeria, Tunisia, and especially Morocco. Everything cooks tagine style - lamb, beef, chicken, fish, vegetables, even pigeon, turkey, or rabbit.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dinner on the Marrakech Express

Welcome to Dinner on the Marrakech Express. This is the home of traditional moroccan food, recipes generations old, influenced by west coast fusion cuisine.

Moroccan food is one of the great cuisines of the world, and with the extra punch of light and fresh pacific north-west, an amazing experience.