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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Moroccan Cuisine

Moroccan cuisine is a mix of Arab, Berber, Moorish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and African influences.Morocco produces a lot of Mediterranean fruit and vegetables as well as large numbers of sheep, cattle, poultry and seafood which is a base for its cuisine. Usual flavoring ingredients in cooked dishes include preserved lemons, cold-pressed, unrefined olive oil and dried fruit. Spices are used extensively such as saffron, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, pepper, paprika, anise seed, sesame seed, coriander, parsley and mint.

The main meal of the day is the midday meal with the exception of the holy month of Ramadan. A typical meal begins with a series of hot and cold salads, followed by a tagine (a slow cooked stew). Bread accompanies every meal. Often lamb or chicken is next followed by couscous topped with meat and vegetables. The meal usually ends with a sweet mint tea. It is common for Moroccans to eat using their fingers and using bread as a utensil.

Lets look at some Moroccan dishes:

Baghnir which are crepe like pancakes.
Brochetter – lamb kebab
Burek a type of baked or fried filled pastry which is made of flaky phyllo dough and are filled with salty cheese (often feta), minced meat, potatoes or other vegetables. The top of the burek is often sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Chicken and Olives – a quartered chicken is sautéed with garlic, onion, tomatoes and olives and spices such as ground ginger, turmeric, paprika, salt, pepper, parsley, coriander and preserved lemon.
Tomatoes and Peppers Moroccan Style (Tshashuka) – Green peppers are broiled and then the skins are peeled off and core and seeds removed. Garlic is sautéed and then the sliced peppers are added. Tomatoes are scalded and skins removed. Then added to the peppers and garlic. When everything is tender remove from heat and serve chilled.
Chicken Tagine with Seven Vegetables – a stew is made with cut up chicken, onion, garlic eggplant, chicken stock, cinnamon sticks, curry powder, ground cumin, turmeric, freshly ground black pepper, diced carrot, zucchini, white turnip, tomatoes and golden raisins. Served in deep bowls with rice, noodles or couscous.
Chicken with Lemon and Olives (Tajine msir Zitun) – Browned chicken pieces stewed with onion, paprika, ground ginger, turmeric, salt, pepper. At the end salted lemons and olives are added.
Lamb Stew – Cubed, boneless lamb shoulder is cooked with salt, pepper, saffron, ginger, garlic, onion, parsley. Just enough water to cover is added. When meat is tender preserved lemon and cinnamon is added then honey and orange blossom water. Just before serving toasted sesame seeds are sprinkled over the meat. Served over couscous.
Meatball Stew (Kefta Tagine) – Ground lamb is mixed with chopped parsley, fresh coriander, ground cumin, onion, cayenne pepper and salt. Formed into balls and fried. The meatballs are set aside. The sauce is made from garlic, onion, bell peppers, parsley, tomatoes, cumin, pepper, ground cinnamon, fresh lemon juice and cayenne pepper. When the sauce is thick the meatballs are added afterwards 6 eggs are broken in and poached until set. Served directly from the pan.
Baked Striped Bass with Cumin Paste (Hut B’camoun) – A whole striped bass is cleaned but the head and tail are left on. In a bowl oil, parsley, cumin, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper are combined making a paste. The mixture is spread evenly inside and over the fish. Then the fish is wrapped in foil and baked.
Red Snapper with Almond Paste – Almonds are toasted then ground with sugar and cinnamon, orange blossom water, water and oil are added. Mixed into a smooth paste. Half the almond paste is filled into the cavity of the fish. The fish is placed into a baking dish surrounded by chopped onions then sprinkled with saffron, salt and pepper. The rest of the almond paste is spread over the fish and baked until done.

Red Pepper Sauce (Harissa) is made with cayenne pepper, ground cumin, garlic cloves, salt and olive oil. The ingredients are made into a smooth paste and cooked for 5 minutes. Served with couscous dishes.

The most popular drink is ATAI green tea with mint. Making good tea in Morocco is considered an art form and an important ritual of the day. The tea is served with hard sugar cones or lumps. Moroccan tea pots have long, curved pouring spout to allow the tea to be poured evenly into tiny glasses from a height. Tea is sold all over the country for 2-3 dh per cup although it is often served free when negotiating a purchase. It can also be bought as a loose tea in markets.

Meat Burek

What You Need:

• 5 12-inch by 17-inch sheets of phyllo dough
• 1 stick of butter, melted and cooled a bit

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• 1 pound ground lamb
• ¼ cup pine nuts
• 1/3 cup tomato sauce
• 1½ teaspoons ground allspice
• ½ teaspoon ground
• Cinnamon
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

How To Cook:

1. Heat a frying pan. Add the oil, lamb, and garlic and saute until the lamb is no longer pink.
2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer 5 minutes until thickened. Fill the pastry.
3. Brush an 8-inch lined frying pan with a bit of the butter. Brush 3 of the half sheets of dough with some of the butter and place them in the bottom of the frying pan.

1. Cut each of the phyllo sheets in half the short way across so that you have 10 sheets, 6 inches by 8½ inches.
2. Spread 1/3 of the filling and 1/3 cup of the meat filling over the sheets. Repeat the process twice more, ending with the remaining sheet of dough. Tuck the edges down and around.
3. Cook over medium heat about 2 minutes, and then place in a preheated 375°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown.

Chicken With Lemon And Olives
(Tajine Msir Zitun)

What You Need:

• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• A 3- to 3½-pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
• 1 cup finely chopped onions
• 2 teaspoons imported paprika
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• ¼ 1teaspoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 2 salted lemons, cut into quarters, or substitute 2 fresh lemons, cut lengthwise into quarters and seeded
• 1 cup water
• 24 small green olives

How To Cook:

1. In a heavy 12-inch skillet, warm the oil over high heat until a light haze forms above it.
2. Brown the chicken in the hot oil, four pieces at a time, turning them frequently with tongs or a slotted spoon and regulating the heat so they color richly and evenly without burning. As they brown, transfer the chicken pieces to a plate.
3. Pour off all but a thin film of fat from the skillet and add the onions. Stirring frequently, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and brown.
4. Watch carefully for any sign of burning and regulate the heat accordingly. Stir in the paprika, ginger, turmeric, salt and a few grindings of pepper.
5. Add the fresh lemons (if you are using them), the chicken and the liquid that has accumulated around it, and pour in the water.
6. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and shows no resistance when a thigh is pierced deeply with a small skewer or knife.
7. Then add the olives and the salted lemon quarters (if you are using them), cover, and simmer for 4 or 5 minutes, until the lemons and olives are heated through. Taste for seasoning.
8. To serve, arrange the chicken pieces attractively on a deep platter and place the lemon quarters and olives in a ring around them. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve at once. By Rasma Raisters

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