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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Cuisine of Madrid



The nations capital is known for having a broad variety of food and is the place to go if you want to sample something from all over Spain. Boasting the second largest fish market in the world, it's often called "Spain's best port" despite being 250 miles from the sea.
Enlarge ImageThe Madrid region (one of Spain’s smallest), as one would expect, is largely dominated by the capital city itself. It has been said, by gourmands and food critics alike, that Madrid does not really have an individual cuisine all of its own, rather it draws on influence from the whole of Spain, absorbing a rich tapestry of flavors and ingredients and throwing them into it’s own gastronomic melting pot. This is certainly true to some extent; in no other city in Spain are visitors likely to be presented with such a wide cross section of the nations flavors. Despite this fact Madrid does still boast a few dishes that are synonymous with the capital and by absorbing so many influences; Madrid has become one of Spain’s richest gastronomic regions.

Famed for its stews and hotpots, Madrid’s most famous dish is probably "Cocido Madrileño". Made with chick peas and vegetables it is a staunch favorite of locals and tourists. "Callos" (tripe) is also typical of the region and can be served in many ways and visitors should not leave without having sampled the simple, yet delicious, "Sopa de Ajo" (garlic soup). The region is also heavily influenced by nearby Castile an area famous for its roasted meats and these traditions have been readily absorbed by Madrilenos. Meats are often slow cooked in a wood oven, giving exquisite flavor and tenderness. Veal, suckling pig and even goat, are often prepared in this way. Food in the region is often more warm and hearty than in the South and is much better suited to the cooler winters of the central and northern regions of Spain.

Desserts and sweets are also a big thing in Madrid and are often seasonally produced. The superb "torrijas" is very similar to bread and butter pudding and a favorite in spring time and especially around the time of holy Week.

Rather surprisingly for an area that is 250 miles from the nearest ocean, Mardileños are great lovers of fish and the city boasts the second largest fish market in the world, only the one in Tokyo is larger. Every morning fresh fish arrives by the truck-load from Spain’s coastal regions filling the cities restaurants and bars with a massive variety of seafood, so much so that Madrid has received the paradoxical nickname of "the best port in Spain".

As you would expect, Madrid is home to some excellent restaurants with no shortage of fine dining options as well as a massive variety of tapas bars. Some criticism has been leveled at Madrid in recent times about the lack of high quality international cuisine on offer and vegetarians (not exactly two-a-penny in Spain) may also find it hard to find a decent meal. Spaniards are very much a meat eating race so vegetarian dishes in restaurants may not be of the highest quality (although standards have improved within recent years). The ever growing city break market means that city’s such as Madrid have to provide good quality food for all of their tourist visitors if it wants to keep them coming back. This can only be a good thing for the city that’s ability to adapt and adopt food from around Spain has clearly given Madrid its own unique cuisine. Babylon-Idiomas
Excellent Spanish language school offering courses in Spain and Latin America
By Mike McDougall

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

IYAN (POUNDED YAM) AND OBE EGUSI (MELON VEGETABLE SOUP)






INGREDIENT FOR POUNDED YAM (IYAN)
• Tubers of Yam
• Water

METHOD

To prepare iyan,
1. buy like 2 tubers of YAM.

2. Peel it off, rinse, and boi till it's soft, not to soft now (NO SALT)

3. Get your odo, and omo ori odo (pistle and molta)
Hurry up because we don't want the yam to be cold now

4. Throw the yam in the molta one after the other as you pound.

5. Pound with all your strength.

6. Pound the yam very well, till it's all formed (u cook fufu -- uyo people, so you should know how a good fufu should be),
7.Use the pistle to turn the pounded yam very well,

8.Get a plate and serve it, if you're not eating it immediately, wrap in a plastic (nylon), and put the iyan in betweeen 2 blankets.
Yes,, it's better that way than in a cooler, because in a cooler the iyan can change .


As for the stew, it is right about eating it with efo riro, efo elegusi is sometimes good too.

YAM FLOUR-ELUBOAMALA ATI EWEDU




INGREDIENTS FOR YAM FLOUR(ELUBO)
• White Yam
METHOD
1. Peel and slice yam thinly (5mm thick),wash thoroughly and leave to soak in a bowl of boiling water until the water is cold.
2. Remove, and dry in the sun.
3. Beat and sift.


HOW TO PREPARE AMALA AND EWEDU

INGREDIENTS FOR AMALA

• Elubo/gbodo [yam flour]
• water
• ewedu leaves
• salt.


METHOD

1. put some water in the pot and allow to boil
2. when boiling add your yam flour
as you are adding this, make sure you turn at the same time with a ladle so that it doesn't come out with lumps.
3. when it is well coagulated add some warm water, depending on how soft you want it be and cover to simmer for some minutes.
after this turn it together properly.
4. please serve hot so as to enjoy it.

PREPARATION OF EWEDU SOUP
1. The leafs need to be chopped properly.
by using a blender to blend or
chopping board and knife or broom.
Any method u choose to use is okay.
2. Place a little quantity of water in pot and place on burner
3. Add kanhun [potassium] and allow to melt in water before adding your chopped or blended ewedu leafs. NOTE: the potassium makes it soft and make sure you add very little quantity of it.
4. Add the leafs and stir until it softens and well thicken. by now it will start pulling add salt to taste and its ready.
5. Serve with amala and any stew of your choice

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ten British Foods I Miss Like Mad




Whilst I love the fresh food available here in Poitou-Charentes, there are times when my body seems to crave stuff that British residents take for granted. Some things you just can't get here, and some which are displayed in the tiny ‘British food section' of the supermarket which would be more aptly titled ‘daylight robbery section.' The ‘range' of goods on offer hardly sets hearts racing (spam anyone?), and frankly I don't know if supermarket managers are privately having a giggle at us desperate Brits.

Compiling this list had me drooling and whimpering like a hungry dog. It took me some time to arrive at my own top-ten, because at each item I seemed to drift away, almost able to taste the items in question. Anyway, grab some tissues to mop up the saliva, and check out the list of what I miss the most:
Cheddar Cheese - The French are luke-warm on this British favourite, but we can't get enough of it, the stronger the better! You can keep your Roquefort!
Cadburys Chocolate - This is the best chocolate in the world. Milka, Toblerone and Lindt simply do not compare. Don't even think about comparing it with the imposter you can buy from Nestle. Only Cadbury's will do. Preferably a Dairy Milk the size of a mattress!
Bacon - Who do the French think they are kidding. Bacon is not circular, and is not paper-thin. It is almost guitar-shaped and requires more than 10 seconds in the pan. The edges should go crispy, and it should be served on thick sliced white bread....
Takeaways - If I had a euro for every time someone has muttered ‘I could murder a decent takeaway' I'd be a rich man indeed. Unhealthy, full of additives and sugars, and invented for the downright lazy amongst us, but sometimes, just sometimes....
Walkers crisps - Cheese and onion to be precise. This flavor has been attempted here, with credible results, but none can match Gary Lineker's favorite.
Baked Beans - The local equivalent product has a label that translates as "baked beans in dirty dishwater." It's missing that thick tomatoes sauce like you find in Heinz or even popular supermarket brands.
Proper bread - I like fresh crusty baguettes, but there are times when a decent thick sliced loaf of white bread is required. You can buy ‘recette Anglais' here, but it is ridiculously priced, and nothing like a decent Hovis or Warburtons.
Real Ale - Why don't the French go for proper beer? Why is it that only lager or white (wheat) beer is available in the local bars? While I am not a big beer drinker, there are times that a pint of Snecklifter, Old Peculiar or Speckled Hen would go down a treat.
Crackers for Cheese - We served up a selection of crackers to our French neighbours recently, and they didn't really know what to do with them. Certainly, the Scottish Oatcakes drew puzzled looks. "Aren't oats for horses?" one person offered. Another used one as a coaster. Philistines
Branston Pickle - Chutney schmutney! There's nothing out there to beat the ‘small-chunk' version of this British classic, home-made or not. A perfect partner to the aforementioned cheddar cheese.
Guide2PoitouCharentes
your indispensable guide to the sunniest region of western France

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

12 Best Foods Cookbook

Over 200 Delicious Recipes Featuring the 12 Healthiest Foods. Open a newspaper or magazine or turn on the news and you'll likely get yet another report about a new study that demonstrates the value of "superfoods" -- foods with high-powered, health-enhancing, disease-fighting micronutrients. But what these articles never tell you is how truly easy it is to enjoy eating these foods for the rest of your life.By Dana Jacobi
Published by Rodale
May 2005; $21.95US/$31.95CAN; 1-57954-965-9

Open a newspaper or magazine or turn on the news and you'll likely get yet another report about a new study that demonstrates the value of "superfoods" -- foods with high-powered, health-enhancing, disease-fighting micronutrients. But what these articles never tell you is how truly easy it is to enjoy eating these foods for the rest of your life. Now, with this collection of more than 200 tantalizing recipes from award-winning food writer and chef Dana Jacobi, you can discover the pure pleasure of eating the foods that are truly best for you.

Working with key ingredients selected for versatility as well as vitality, Jacobi exploits each food's abundant nutritional value in irresistible creations like thick and spicy Lean Mean Chocolate Chili and deceptively light Spinach Strudel. Dishes like Black Bean Bisque and Pan-Roasted Halibut with Carmelized Onions are perfect for entertaining but easy enough for weeknight meals, too. Chapters cover everything from fabulous breakfasts like French Toast with Hidden Blueberries, to satisfying snacks and innovative sides, to show-stopping desserts like Hot Chocolate Soufflé with Strawberry Salsa.

With a foreword by Mehmet Oz, M.D., and 40 lush color photographs, 12 Best Foods Cookbook reveals on every page that perhaps the ultimate benefit of eating what's good for you is how very good it can taste.

Author

Dana Jacobi: After apprenticing at three-star restaurants in France, Dana Jacobi opened a catering business and marketed her own line of gourmet sauces. She has since authored five cookbooks, contributed to several others, and written for Food & Wine, Cooking Light, the New York Times, and the Associated Press. Her work has won a Gourmand World Cookbook Award and been nominated for a James Beard Foundation Book Award. Presently Jacobi writes a weekly newspaper column, "Something Different," for the American Institute for Cancer Research. She also consults in product development and teaches cooking classes. Jacobi lives in New York City.

Reviews

"Dana Jacobi has a true gift for translating nutritional recommendations into pure, delicious food. She knows how to impart the essential information with inspiration and pleasure, without overwhelming us. Under her excellent tutelage, we are moved right along into action. I think this book will become one of the most dog-eared and spilled upon in many a kitchen."

--Mollie Katzen, author of Moosewood Cookbook

"Dana Jacobi proves that good nutrition and pleasure are not mutually exclusive. Her inventive, simple recipes satisfy our desires and keep our bodies healthy."

--Jack Bishop, author of A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen and Vegetables Every Day

"Dana is the most accomplished and sensible healthy cook I know. She has turned the 12 best foods into dishes so delicious I may well become a health nut." --Arthur Schwartz, radio talk-show host and author of Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food

Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from the book 12 Best Foods Cookbook: Over 200 Delicious Recipes Featuring the 12 Healthiest Foods

Spinach Salad with Nectarine, Blueberries and Lime Balsamic Vinaigrette

With nectarines available nearly all year long, you can enjoy this salad almost anytime. I actually like it best in the winter, when the tartness of imported nectarines seems to make it even more refreshing. Tossing fresh mint with the spinach adds an unexpected flavor.

4 cups baby spinach (4 ounces)

1/4 cup mint leaves

Juice of 1/2 lime

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped shallot

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 nectarine, thinly sliced

1/2 cup fresh blueberries, or 1/4 cup dried

1. Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl. Stack the mint leaves and cut them crosswise into thin strips. Toss the mint with the spinach.

2. For the dressing, combine the lime juice, vinegar, shallot, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil. Season the dressing to taste with pepper.

3. Pour the dressing over the greens, tossing to coat lightly. Divide the dressed spinach among 4 salad plates. Fan one-quarter of the nectarine slices on 1 side of each plate. Sprinkle the blueberries over the spinach. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 72 calories, 4 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber


Food Fact

The vitamin C in lime juice can help your body absorb the iron in spinach.

--------------------

Roast Chicken Waldorf Salad

Fennel and toasted nuts give a new twist to this salad with creamy dressing. Instead of waiting for leftovers from a roast chicken, you can make it using a barbecued breast from the store.

Salad

2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

2 cups diced roast chicken breast (8 ounces)

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut in 3/4"cubes

2 wild fennel bulbs, or 1/4 medium fennel bulb, chopped

6 cups shredded red leaf, romaine, or Boston lettuce, or any combination

Dressing

2 tablespoons low-fat whipped dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Toast until they are fragrant and lightly colored, 10 minutes, stirring after 3 minutes and again after 6 minutes so they toast evenly. Set the nuts aside to cool.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken, apple, fennel, and nuts.

3. For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the whipped dressing, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and red pepper, adjusting the seasoning to taste. Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture, tossing until the salad is evenly coated.

4. To serve, divide the lettuce among 4 dinner plates and mound the chicken salad equally over the greens.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 279 calories, 16 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 22 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber

Wild fennel bulbs are long and slim. You can find them at an increasing number of supermarkets as well as farmers' markets, particularly during the summer and fall. They should be thinly sliced, as they are crunchier (some would say tougher) than the bulbous fennel we are used to. They also have a more pronounced anise flavor.

--------------

Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Gravy

These overstuffed chops will have friends and family talking for weeks. The idea came from watching a cooking show on television. That recipe, however, was seriously loaded with butter and cream, while I use just enough to make velvety potatoes and moist chops. I also replaced a long list of Cajun spices with Thai chili paste, making this a down-home dish with melting-pot flavors.

3 medium Beauregard, Garnet, or Jewel yams (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon Thai red chili paste

3 tablespoons half-and-half

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/2 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped

1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs

4 (1 1/2"-thick) boneless center cut pork chops (5-6 ounces each)

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roast the sweet potatoes. Peel and mash them. There should be 3 cups. Reduce the oven to 350°F.

2. For the gravy, in a bowl combine 2 1/3 cups of the sweet potatoes with the butter, chili paste, and half-and-half. Season it to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the creamy potatoes to cover the bottom of an 8" square baking dish. Set aside.

3. For the stuffing, in a second bowl, combine the remaining sweet potato with the onion, apple, and breadcrumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Make a 3 1/2" x 2 1/2" pocket in each chop. Pack the stuffing generously into the pockets. Combine the paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and onion powder in a small bowl. Rub 1 side of each chop with this mixture and set them seasoned side down on top of the sweet potatoes in the baking dish. Rub the remaining seasoning on top of each chop. Cover the pan with foil.

5. Bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake the chops 10 minutes longer, until they are nicely browned on top. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 474 calories, 12 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 32 g protein, 60 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber

-------------------

Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta

Plump cherry tomatoes, sautéed just until their skin cracks, are the stars of this Greek-accented dish. The large cherry ones, also called cocktail tomatoes, that come in a net bag are best. Their flavor is worth the premium you pay. If you buy shelled shrimp, this dish is ready to cook in 5 minutes.

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 pound medium shrimp, shelled

1 clove garlic, minced

1 (12-ounce) bag cherry tomatoes on the vine

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried

1/4 cup dry white wine, or fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and stir with a wooden spoon until they just lose their raw color, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, tomatoes, oregano, and wine or broth. Cook, using a spoon to roll the tomatoes around, until most of the liquid has boiled off, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the parsley and cheese, and cook 1 minute longer, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 154 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 19 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber

Food Fact

Shrimp contain a moderate amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

------------------

Broccoli Smashed Potatoes

Even youngsters will love this dish, an unexpected way to enjoy a whole cup of broccoli.

1 pound Yukon Gold or other yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled

4 cups medium broccoli florets

1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced

1/2 cup low-fat (1%) milk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 teaspoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

1. Place the potatoes in a deep saucepan and cover with cold water to a depth of 2". Cook uncovered over high heat until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes.

2. While the potatoes cook, steam the broccoli and leek until the broccoli is very soft, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander.

3. Drain the potatoes and place them in a deep bowl. Using a sturdy fork, mash the potatoes into roughly 1" chunks. Add the broccoli and leek, mashing until only small lumps of the broccoli remain. Add the milk, 2 tablespoons at a time, mashing until the texture is pleasing to you. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, taking care it does not burn. Stir in the mace.

5. To serve, spoon the smashed potatoes into a serving bowl. With the back of the spoon, smooth the top, leaving several shallow indentations. Drizzle the butter, letting it pool in the hollows. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 169 calories, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 7 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber


Food Fact

Yellow-fleshed potatoes get their color from carotenoids.

------------

Blueberry Peach Crostata

I am skeptical about frozen food, but frozen peaches taste better than most of the fresh ones available. (Unfortunately, this is true even during the summer.) To see for yourself, make this golden-crusted Italian tart. Leftovers, if there are any, are great for breakfast.

Crust

1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

Filling

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

16 ounces frozen sliced peaches

1/4 cup peach or apricot preserves, or fruit spread

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/4 cup blueberry jam

1. Set a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. For the crust, place the flour, lemon zest, and salt in a mixing bowl, making a well in the center. Place the egg, butter, and granulated sugar in the well. Using a fork, lightly mix the egg, then gradually work the flour into the egg and butter until the mixture is crumbly. Rub the dough between your fingers for 2 minutes to blend the ingredients well. Press the dough into a ball and flatten it into a 5" x 1" disk on a sheet of waxed paper. Invert a bowl over the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

3. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper into an 11" disk. Removing 1 sheet of paper, fit the dough into a 9" loose-bottomed tart pan, fixing any tears with your fingers and bringing it three-quarters of the way up the sides. Line the crust with foil and weight it with dry beans.

4. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 5 minutes longer, until it is just golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. Fill immediately or cover with foil and set the crust aside for up to 8 hours.

5. For the filling, combine the juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, 30 seconds. Add the peaches, cover, and cook 4 minutes. Uncover and cook until the fruit is translucent but still firm, 5 minutes longer. Reduce the heat. Pushing the fruit to 1 side, mix the preserves with the liquid, cooking until it melts, 1 minute. Add the blueberries and mix to glaze the fruit. Set aside to cool slightly, 10 minutes.

6. Coat the bottom of the crust with the blueberry jam. Spoon the warm fruit into the crust. Serve warm or at room temperature, within 2 hours.

Makes 6 servings

Per serving: 402 calories, 13 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 5 g protein, 69 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber

Use only blueberry jam. Fruit spread does not seal the crust.

Food Fact

Peaches are a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber, in addition to carotenoids.

Reprinted from: 12 Best Foods Cookbook: Over 200 Delicious Recipes Featuring the 12 Healthiest Foods by Dana Jacobi. Copyright © 2005 Dana Jacobi. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735 or visit their website at www.rodalestore.com
By Buzzle Staff and Agencies

Use of Spices worldwide



A general description of the uses of spices. If you are new to cooking then read this to get an idea of how different countries use spices. If you are an "old hand" please let us know your favorite recipes.
Enlarge ImageFor thousands of years Man has used herbs and spice to flavor their food. Each region of the world has developed their own style of cooking and nowadays it is possible to explore and recreate the great variety of dishes different countries offer.

In Europe herbs are an essential part of Mediterranean cooking. Marjoram, oregano, basil, rosemary and many others are vital ingredients in the recipes from Italy, Spain and other Southern European countries. Cross the water to North Africa and the Middle East and you will find mild aromatic spices predominate. Anyone who has eaten an authentic tagine in a Moroccan suk will tell you how enticing these spices are. Much of this region is known for the spices they produce, saffron from Iran, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric and many more from Zanzibar off the east coast of Africa.

Most people associate spicy food with Asia, but again every country and region has its own cuisine as varied as the spice they use. Indian food, influenced by the Hindu and Moslem cultures, can be fiery hot or lightly aromatic. Even the desserts served are gently flavored with cardamom, nutmeg and cloves.

Thai and Vietnamese food is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. Many people, nervous of eating Indian curries and wrongly fearing that they will be very hot, enjoy the subtle flavors of Thai spice and lemon grass, as gentle as the people themselves.

Chinese cuisine is equally subtle, much of its flavoring due to the sauces used, but spices such as ginger, star anise (grown in Southern China), cinnamon and cloves are also essential ingredients. If a little kick is needed, then chilli comes into its own.

Then we come to the New World. Visit any island in the Caribbean, from the spice island of Grenada to Trinidad and Tobago and you will find a host of highly flavored recipes as colorful as the people themselves. Tourism has opened the delights of Cuban cooking to the world.

Think of South America and chillis and peppers immediately come to mind. Chillis have influenced cooking right through Mexico, into Louisiana and the Cajun cooking ,so reliant on Cayenne pepper. This influence, combined with a Spanish flavor, has spread to Southwestern food with its spicy salsas. Try dishes from the Midwest with their strong influences from Germany and the Eastern European countries.

Fortunately the internet makes it easy to try out many of these recipes for yourself. Look up a country and its recipes and you are bound to find what you want. Herbs and Spices can be ordered cheaply at Worldwide-herbs-and-spices.com, so why not give it a go. Worldwide Use of Spices
Worldwide Herbs and Spices
By Cath Champion

Monday, May 17, 2010

What Makes Moroccan Cuisine and Recipes so Popular

Considered as one of the most diversified and sumptuous food, Moroccan cuisine offers a delightful experience. There primary reason contributed to the diverse Moroccan food is it’s interaction with the outside world for centuries. Food in Morocco has blended different cuisines from different cultures like Moorish, Arab, Middle Eastern, Berber, Jewish, Iberian and Mediterranean African.

Over different historical eras and centuries the Moroccan cuisine was refined by the highly capable cooks of the royal kitchens in Meknes, Fez, Marrakech, Tetouan and Rabat. This refined cuisine laid the base for the modern Moroccan cuisine.

History of Moroccan Cuisine

Morocco has been at the crossroad of different civilizations, which has greatly influenced Moroccan food. Today you will even find some of the best Moroccan recipes over the internet but the truth is that nothing tastes like the Moroccan spices. It is said that the history of Morocco can be seen reflected in their cuisine. People and tribes from different parts of the world has come to Morocco and settled here, which has led to creation of a blended cuisine that has many different flavors. There was a time when political refugees came all the way from Baghdad, Iraq during the Middle Ages to settle in Morocco. They brought their local recipes, which have since become a part of the traditional Moroccan cuisine. One of the signature characteristics of this type of blended recipe is where fruit is cooked with meat like apricots with chicken.

Moroccan food has also been influenced greatly by Morisco or the Muslim refugees who were thrown out of Spain preceding the Spanish inquisition. An important part of Moroccan cuisine is the ingredients used. Since Morocco produces Mediterranean vegetables and fruits, they are used in the preparation of different Moroccan recipes. Poultry, cattle and fish is also found in abundance in Morocco and hence they have become an integral part of the country’s cuisine.

Moroccan Spices

Food in Morocco can’t do without the Moroccan spices. One of the biggest markets in Morocco for spices is at Agadir and you can find different types of spices used as an ingredient for rendering a different taste. These spices are used in all Moroccan recipes and render a taste that will remain with you for a lifetime.

Some of the popular Moroccan spices include saffron that came from Tiliouine, olive and mint came from Meknes, while lemons and oranges came from Fez. Some of the common spices were also home grown like kamoun (cumin), karfa (cinnamon), kharkoum (tumeric), libzar (pepper) , skingbir (ginger), tahmira (paprika), sesame seed, anis seed, kasbour (coriander), zaafrane beldi (saffron) and maadnous (parsley).

The Great Moroccan Meal

You have to really taste the tanginess and the spicy flavors of the Moroccan cuisine to understand why it is so popular across the world. The most important part of the Moroccan cuisine is the midday meal. A Moroccan mid day meal will start with hot and cold salads, followed by tagine. Bread is the staple food in every mid day meal. This is followed by a chicken or lamb dish and then a dish of couscous topped with vegetable and meat. At the end of the meal, you will get to drink a cup of sweet mint tea, which is a part of their tradition.

Couscous is the main Moroccan dish and is considered to be of Berber origin. The most commonly consumed form of meat is beef although lamb is also preferred but costs more than beef. There is also a growing importance for seafood and it is slowly becoming an important part of Moroccan cuisine. Some of the popular as well as famous Moroccan food recipes include Pastilla, Couscous, Tajine, Harira and Tanjia. Although Harira is a soup, but it is an important part of the Moroccan cuisine and is consumed mostly during the holy months of Ramadan.

Where you have rich food laced with Moroccan spices, you will definitely have Desserts. Desserts in Morocco don’t necessarily have to be sweet although the sweeter it is, the better it will be. One of the common desserts is the kaab el ghzal or gazelle's horns. Of course that’s just a name and you won’t get to eat any real horns. Kaab el ghzal is a type of pastry with sugar toppings that is stuffed with almond paste. Honey cakes are extremely popular too and they are prepared by deep frying dough and then dipping them in hot honey and finally sesame seeds are sprinkled on the top.

Moroccan cuisine has a lot of variety and also include drinks (Mint Tea) and snacks apart from their mid day meal and to feel the real flavor of spice, you will have to taste their traditional food.

Moe Tamani is an importer of Tagines and an aficionado of Moroccan Tagines.
http://www.themoroccanbazaar.com/
http://www.themoroccanbazaar.com/shop.php/moroccan-furniture/tables/c_5.html
http://www.themoroccanbazaar.com/shop.php/moroccan-cooking/cooking-tagine/c_54.html Moroccan recipes
Moroccan recipes
By Moe Tamani