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Easy Moroccan recipes: Veg Couscous, Lamb Tagine, more

Last updated on: October 27, 2010 11:01 IST

Easy Moroccan recipes: Veg Couscous, Lamb Tagine, more

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Romantic landscapes. Enchanting souks. Affable people. Bollywood. Arthur J Pais takes a magical, mystery tour of Morocco. In the final part of the series, we bring you some simple Moroccan recipes.

Earlier in the series:
Desi in magical Morocco
The Casablanca massage
'Every Moroccan will know at least 100 words in Hindi'
Sex and the City: The Morocco connection

Though Moroccan food is rich with meat dishes, there are plenty of options for vegetarians. Many Moroccan restaurants in Morocco, and in large cities around the world serve vegetarian couscous. Morocco is the largest exporter of sardines, and most eateries offer a simple dish of lightly seasoned sardines fried to perfection. Though Moroccan food is flavoursome, it is not hot. The ubiquitous chilly sauce harissa helps to hot up the taste.

The following dish is very popular throughout the country. I have added a few chillies to the ingredients.

Vegetarian Couscous

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking: 25 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 dried red chillies, crushed
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup lima beans
  • 3 red potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can canned diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 cup pitted, brine-cured green olives
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (10 ounce) box uncooked couscous
  • 6 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 6 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves (Substitute cilantro/coriander leaves)

Method

Heat olive oil in a large covered saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, until oil is hot but not smoking. Add in the onion, chillies, garlic, cumin, cinnamon stick, and salt and pepper. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Stir in the butternut squash and potato cubes, broth, garbanzo and lima beans, and tomatoes, and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the pot, and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash and potatoes are tender. Remove the stew from heat, and stir in the olives and lemon zest. Garnish with mint leaves.

Harissa (Moroccan hot sauce)

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 6 dried red chillies, finely crushed
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 6 garlic pods, crushed
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 whole preserved lemons (or salted or pickled lemons)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (substitute vegetable oil)

Method

Place cumin, coriander, cardamom, chillies, cloves and peppercorns in a small saucepan, set over moderately high heat, and toast spices 3 minutes, shaking pan frequently. Cool spices 2-3 minutes, transfer to a mortar, and crush thoroughly with a pestle. Add salt, lime and garlic and crush all to paste. Transfer to a small jar, add oil, cover tight and store at room temperature. The sauce will keep for at least two weeks.


Photographs: Man Vyi/ Creative Commons
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Easy Moroccan recipes

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Moroccan Eggplant

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 6 small eggplants
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • Salt to taste

Method

Peel the eggplants, and cut into inch thick slices. Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Fry the eggplant in the vegetable oil, turning once, until golden brown. Set aside. Remove the pan from the heat, and cool for a minute. Add the remaining olive oil and the garlic, and a minute later, add the honey, lemon juice, harissa, the dry spices and salt to taste. Stir to blend. Return the eggplant to the pan, and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add a little water during the cooking if the dish looks dry.

Lamb Tagine

Tagine is the colourful utensil in which many stews are made. This slow-cooking recipe calls for argan oil, a light, nutty oil which is exclusive to Morocco. Some upscale food shops in North America sell it. If you can't find it use olive or walnut or vegetable oil

If you cannot find a tagine, use a heavy-bottomed pot. I have added a few chillies to the traditional recipe

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 lb boneless lamb, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped medium
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 red chillies, finely crushed
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup argan or olive or walnut or vegetable oil
  • Handful of cilantro and mint sprigs, tied together
  • 1/2 cup green olives with pits
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, cut into small pieces

Method

Layer the sliced onions on the bottom of a tagine or a heavy-bottom pot. In a bowl, mix the meat with the chopped onion and spices, and add the mixture to the tagine along with the water, argan oil, tomatoes and olives. Place the cilantro and mint bouquet on top of the meat. Cover the tagine, and place it on a diffuser over medium-low heat. It will take some time for the tagine to start simmering. Let the tagine remain undisturbed for about three hours, using the lowest heat. Serve with pita bread.

Earlier in the series:
Desi in magical Morocco
The Casablanca massage
'Every Moroccan will know at least 100 words in Hindi'
Sex and the City: The Morocco connection


Photographs: Sharona Gott/ Creative Commons
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