Posts Tagged ‘Moroccan Cuisine’
As both a starting point and a destination for merchants along ancient trade routes Morocco developed a cuisine that has Arabic, African, French, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern influences. This blending of cultures and ideas makes Moroccan cuisine unique and often quite surprising. Extensive use of dried fruits such as dates and figs, preserved lemons, nuts, and the blending of fresh herbs and spices gives Moroccan cuisine its distinctive, and delicious, taste.
Harira is the famous soup of Morocco that is traditionally served during Ramadan at sunset to break the daylight fast. While every family has its own recipe with slight variations the traditional Harira is a tomato based soup with lamb, chickpeas, lentils, and pasta, infused with the flavors of lemon, cinnamon, cilantro, parsley, saffron, and ginger, and thickened with flour and egg. The soup is traditionally served with a lemon slice and crusty bread, a small bowl of lemon juice for those who prefer their soup with a little extra, and a plate of figs which are also traditionally served to break fast during Ramadan.
While traditionally only served during Ramadan or at weddings Harira is a Moroccan favorite that is hearty enough to be served as a meal on a cold winter’s night, find the recipe below and don’t forget the crusty bread!
- ½ lb. uncooked meat (lamb, beef or chicken), chopped into 1/2” pieces
- several soup bones (optional)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 bunch cilantro (coriander), finely chopped to yield about 1/4 cup
- 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped to yield about 1/4 cup
- 1 or 2 celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, grated
- 1 can of chick peas
- 1 tablespoon smen (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric or ¼ teaspoon yellow colorant
- 6 large tomatoes (about 2 lb. or 1 kg), peeled, seeded and pureed
- 2 to 3 tbsp lentils
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste, mixed evenly into 1 or 2 cups of water
- 2 to 3 tablespoons uncooked broken vermicelli
- 1 cup flour
Step 1 – Ahead of Time
- Peel, seed and puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Or, stew the tomatoes and pass them through a food mill to remove the seeds and skin.
- Pick the parsley and cilantro leaves from their stems. Small pieces of stem are OK, but discard long, thick pieces with no leaves. Wash the herbs, drain well, and finely chop them by hand or with a food processor.
Assemble the remaining ingredients and follow the steps below.
Step 2 – Brown the Meat
Put the meat, soup bones and oil into a 6-qt. or larger pressure cooker. Over medium heat, cook the meat for a few minutes, stirring to brown all sides.
Step 3 – Make the Stock
Add the cilantro, parsley, celery, onion, chick peas, tomatoes, smen and spices. Stir in 3 cups of water.
Cover tightly, and heat over high heat until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and release the pressure.
Step 4 – Make the Soup
Add the lentils, tomato paste mixture, and 2 quarts (or about 2 liters) of water to the stock.
Set aside (but don’t add yet), the vermicelli.
Cover the pot and heat the soup over high heat until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking.
Adding vermicelli: Cook the soup on pressure for 45 minutes. Release the pressure, and add the vermicelli. Simmer the soup, uncovered, for five to ten minutes or until the vermicelli is plump and cooked.
Step 5 – Thicken the Soup
While the soup is cooking, mix together the 1 cup of flour with 2 cups of water. Set the mixture aside.
Stir or whisk the mixture occasionally. The flour will eventually blend with the water. If the mixture is not smooth when you’re ready to use it, pass it through a sieve to remove balls.
Once the vermicelli has cooked, taste the soup for seasoning. Add salt or pepper if desired.
Bring the soup to a full simmer. Slowly — and in a thin stream — pour in the flour mixture. Stir constantly and keep the soup simmering so the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom.
You will notice the soup beginning to thicken when you’ve used approximately half the flour mixture. How thick to make harira is your own preference. I like to thicken the broth so that it achieves a cream-like consistency.
Simmer the thickened soup, stirring occasionally, for five to ten minutes to cook off the taste of the flour. Remove the soup from the heat.
Serves 6 to 8.
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Google on call Travel Exploration at (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.
Dates have played an important part in Moroccan cuisine for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence suggests the cultivation of dates all the way back in 6,000 BC in Arabia. The date palm was a major source of life for thousands of people throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa and is said to have provided people with thousands of different uses including thread, mattresses, lumber, rope, and many other household and dietary uses. Dates are also very important in Islam with the date palm regarded as the “tree of life” as mentioned in the Story of Genesis and also eaten to ceremoniously break fast during Ramadan. When visiting Morocco on a Tailor Made Jewish Tour or a Family Adventure Tour make sure to include Date picking in Morocco’s south as one of the activties in your travel itinerary.
Morocco’s arid desert region is the perfect place for cultivating dates. Morocco today, boasts over 100 different varieties of dates with 45 qualities of those in the south of Morocco alone. Of the many different varieties of dates the most popular are the Medjool, Algerian stuffed date, and the Halawi date. The Draa, or the Draa Valley, in Morocco is known as the “Country of the Dates” as its hot arid temperatures offer the date palm the perfect climate to thrive.
The largest and perhaps the best-known variety of the Moroccan dates is the Medjool date. Often referred to as “the king of dates” it was once reserved only for Moroccan royalty and their guests.They were, and still are, considered a precious confection and are typically the most expensive of the date varieties because their cultivation is more labor intensive.The date has a soft wrinkled flesh that gives way to a firm meaty center.When ripe, the date turns a dark brown color and with hints of wild honey, caramel, and cinnamon it is no wonder this date is considered a gourmet dessert.
In the 1920’s date palms in Morocco were threatened with extinction by a disease, to save their dates Morocco sent eleven date palms to the USA. Nine of the eleven palms survived and are responsible for the millions of Medjool Dates that can be found throughout California and in parts of Arizona.
The Deglet Noor date, originally from Algeria, are the dates commonly used in Moroccan stuffed date recipes. Primarily an export crop, these dates are semi-dry with a firm texture and a sweet and delicate flavor. Ranging from a light red to amber color these dates actually make up 90 percent of the Californian date crop and can be found in many Moroccan tagine recipes.
The Halawi Date is a soft wrinkled date with a meaty flesh and a sweet caramel flavor. While not as large or as favored as the Medjool Date the Halawi Date is still considered a delicacy and because of its soft sweet flesh and high sugar content it is often served as a dessert at Moroccan meals.
Moroccan Date Festival
Every October in the Moroccan town of Erfoud a three-day festival celebrating the date is held. The date is the main livelihood for the people of Erfoud so it is no wonder that this festival focuses on the celebration of the date harvest and prayers for a successful harvest to come. Endless music, dancing, and of course eating dates spans the three day celebration where locals and tourists alike gather together under the swaying palm trees.
Dates play an extremely important part in Moroccan cuisine and are used in both sweet and savory meals. Below, find the recipes for a Beef tagine that features honey and dates and also a sweet recipe for stuffed dates, enjoy!
Moroccan Beef tagine with dates and honey
3 lbs beef, trimmed and cubed
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 lb of onion, peeled and quartered
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 lb of carrots, peeled and chopped
9 ounces of canned tomatoes
4 ounces of dates, pitted
6 ounces of prunes, pitted
2 tablespoons of honey
½ pint of beef stock
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons of cumin powder
2 teaspoons of cilantro powder
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2 ounces of toasted sliced almonds
2 ounces of fresh cilantro chopped
- Par-boil the carrots for 3-5 minutes, at the same time pre-heat your tagine or croc pot.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion until they have browned slightly then put them into the tagine.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients, except for the almonds and fresh cilantro, into the tagine and mix well.
- Put the beef into a pan and sear them until brown, add beef to the tagine.
- Cook the tagine in a hot oven for 6-10 hours or, if using a croc pot, cook on high setting for same amount of time.
- Serve over couscous and sprinkle with sliced almonds and fresh cilantro.
Stuffed Dates Recipe:
375 grams of dates, pitted
1 cup of peeled ground almonds
1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar
1 egg white
Mix the ground almonds, sugar and egg white together. Put this mixture in a skillet and cook over a low flame, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes sticky. Add 1 tsp water and cook 1 minute longer. Remove from the flame and let cool for several minutes. With this mixture stuff the dates and roll in confectioners’ sugar. Serve while the filling is hot or at room temperature.
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Google on call Travel Exploration at 1800-787- 8806and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.
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