Salads are an extremely important part of the Moroccan cuisine especially around Fez and along the coastal areas where vegetables are popular. Although some Moroccan Salads feature raw seasonal vegetables, many are made with cooked vegetables, which are mashed into a pulp and presented as a ‘salad’. Zesty and spicy, tart and sweet. In some ways they are more like Italian antipasti. They are certainly not mixtures of greens doused with dressings, but a real journey into this unique cuisine. It’s the contrasts from the combinations that excite; oranges with black olives, diced lemon and onion, broad beans salad with cumin dressing, tomato and preserved lemon salad, aubergine and tomatoes and of course spicy carrot salad.
Sometimes they are placed on the table at the beginning of the meal and left there throughout, other times they are removed as soon as the first tajine arrives, but it’s certainly not uncommon for maybe four salads to be served. I have included some delicious examples and since salads are so important I’ll add some more and some simple starters with my next post.
Aubergine Salad – serves 4
- 3 aubergines chopped
- 1 medium onion minced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 4 small tomatoes, chopped
- 1 red capsicum chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Put aubergines on an open flame or under the griller until the skin is burned black then put then into a plastic bag, rubbing briskly between the hands to remove the burnt skin. Then chop the flesh.
- Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the onions have become soft add the aubergines, tomatoes, capsicum and spices. When the tomatoes are soft, add the tomato paste, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Allow to cool, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Spicy Carrot Salad – serves 4-6
- 500gm baby carrots
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- juice of one lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Place whole carrots in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for about 20 minutes until soft. Leave them in their cooking water for about 1 hour.
- When cool, strain the carrots and cut them into quarters lengthwise.
- Return carrots to the pan, cover with the rest of the ingredients and heat for a few minutes to blend the flavours.
- Leave to cool. Serve garnished with freshly chopped parsley.
Cucumber salad with orange flower water – serves 4
Often served to whet the appetite or as a palate cleanser between courses and fantastic with grilled meats or fish.
- 2 cucumbers, peeled and grated
- juice of 1 orange
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1-2 tablespoons of orange flower water
- 3-4 teaspoons of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon for sprinkling
- Put the grated cucumbers in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 10 minutes.
- Using your hands, squeeze out the excess liquid, then return the cucumber to the bowl. Mix the citrus juices, orange flower water and sugar together, then pour over the cucumber. Toss well and sprinkle with the cinnamon.
- Cover and chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.