This my first post so I thought that it’s best if I say a little about my site. I have always had a fascination and interest in North Africa especially Morocco and thought I’d share this interest with others.
Unfortunately I have never been there but did come close many years ago. I think that the country is certainly exotic, sometimes very inhospitable and challenging but at the same time has a rich culture and a sort of timelessness hanging over it.
I have a particular interest in Moroccan cuisine and am going to post recipes that demonstrate how the food is one of the most cleverly balanced on earth and is a feast for the senses. One thing that I love is that the essence of Moroccan food is a communal style of eating, with many dishes shared by the family. The meal time is very social and eaten at a leisurely pace. Something that I think is certainly starting to disappear from western meal times.
Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food to enhance the flavour of dishes and there is nothing like the warm waft of beautiful spices that seduce you when you open the lid of a tajine.
A few words about the tajine, it is unique to North Africa and a predominant feature of Moroccan cuisine. It is essentially a glorified, slow cooked stew, deeply aromatic and full of flavour. ‘Tajine’ is the name of both the cooked dish and the traditional earthenware cooking vessel with its conical lid. Placed over a gas or electric stove, with a heat diffuser to keep the heat low and the dish simmering, the tajine enables the ingredients to cook gently in the steam that builds up inside the lid. Generally , a tajine will be served from the cooking vessel or it will be transferred to a decorative serving tajine.
Outside of Morocco, many of the ingredients required for creating authentic Moroccan recipes are easily available in supermarkets and specialist stores so I hope you’ll enjoy the dishes as much as I have.
We could start with a simple but delicious dish called
Tajine of Lamb with dates and almonds
1 bunch of coriander, washed and roots and leaves separated
1 garlic clove crushed
pinch of saffron
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
750ml / 1 pint / 7fl ozs water
juice of 1 lemon
600gm / 1lb 5 ozs cubed lamb
1 medium carrot cut into cubes
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced sideways
125gm / 4 1/2 ozs pitted dates
3 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1. Pound the coriander roots, garlic, saffron, turmeric, cumin, ginger and white pepper in a mortar with a little salt. Combine with water and lemon juice. Place the meat, carrot, onion and dates in a large bowl and pour over the spice mixture. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
2. Place a tagine or heavy based flameproof casserole dish over a low heat and add the peanut oil, marinated meat mixture and the cinnamon stick. Cover and simmer gently for 1 1/2- 2 hours or until tender. You may need to add a little more liquid, check occasionally when cooking.
3. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan until golden. Chop the reserved coriander leaves and garnish the tajine with the almonds, coriander and a little drizzle of peanut oil and serve with couscous.
Again a great feature of Moroccan cuisine is this dish can be served at the table with your guests or family enjoying the casual approach to meal time.