Moroccan culinary delights
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to live and work in Washington, D.C. It was during this time that I made friends with a number of people from around the world from Ethiopia to Morocco. These friendships afforded me the opportunity to enjoy diverse cultural and culinary experiences.
I fondly remember being invited to an authentic Muslim wedding. The ceremony was beautiful and different from what we are accustomed to here in The Bahamas. Oh, but the reception was really fun and entertaining, they sure know how to throw a party. The Moroccan food was flowing, the entertainment was non-stop and how can I forget the belly dancers.
Morocco produces a large range of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables and even some tropical ones. Common meats in Moroccan cuisine include mutton and lamb, beef, chicken, camel, rabbit and seafood, which serve as a base for the cuisine. Characteristic flavorings include lemon pickle, cold-pressed, unrefined olive oil and dried fruits. They were all available for consumption at the Moroccan wedding I’d attended.
In addition to the vast array of wines and spirits we also enjoyed the most popular drink in Morocco, green tea with mint. Traditionally, making good mint tea in Morocco is considered an art form and the drinking of it with friends and family is one of the important rituals of the day. The pouring technique is as crucial as the quality of the tea itself.
I along with everyone in attendance truly enjoyed all of the endless delights.
Cooking is about sharing and having fun in the process so allow me to share the great recipes from Roscoe’s Kitchen. Make sure to e-mail us at [email protected] with your comments and recipes so that we could share your experiences and creations with our audience.
Moroccan Lamb with Prunes and Apricots
The essence of this dish is the combination of sweet and hot elements. Avoid the urge to cook the lamb too quickly. The slow, gentle cooking is the key to a tender and juicy stew with an almost glaze-like sauce.
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 ground ginger
3 lbs good quality lamb shoulder, cleaned from excessive fat and sinews and cut into chunky pieces
1 large onion(about 1 cup)coarsely chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, finely slivered
3 tbsps olive oil
About 3?cups beef stock
6 tomatoes, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 cup stoned dried apricots
1 cup stoned dried prunes
1 lemon, juiced and rind grated
4 tbsps chopped fresh coriander
Basmati rice to serve
Mix cinnamon, cumin, ginger, salt and pepper and rub it into the lamb chunks. Set aside.
Heat olive oil into a large saucepan over medium high heat and sauté lamb pieces for 3-5 minutes or until they begin to brown. Stir in onion and garlic and cook for further 5 minutes until onions begin to soften.
Add the beef stock, chopped tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add apricots and prunes. Cook lamb for about 30-45 minutes or until fork tender stirring once in a while and watching that apricots and prunes do not get too soft. If sauce gets too thick, add a bit more stock or water.
Just before serving add lemon juice and rind. Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve it with the basmati rice.
Fresh Sardines with Preserved Lemon
12 fresh sardines(about 2 to 3 ounces each), cleaned, leaving head and tail intact
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
Rinse sardines and pat dry, then spread out on a platter. Drizzle sardines with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with sea salt, fennel seeds, and pepper.
Heat grill pan over moderately high heat until hot. Oil grill pan and grill sardines, in 2 batches if necessary, turning over once, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes total per batch. Transfer as cooked to a clean platter with a slotted spatula.
Stir together lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Serve sardines sprinkled with dill and drizzled with lemon dressing.
Lamb with Raisins,
Almonds and Honey
3 lbs lamb(shoulder, neck or shanks)cut into 3-inch pieces
2 medium onions, grated
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons Moroccan spice blend
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 cups water
1 and 1/2 cups golden raisins
1/2 cup honey, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup blanched almonds
Cover the raisins with water and set aside to soak while preparing the meat.
In a heavy-bottomed pot or pressure cooker, mix the meat with the onions, garlic, and spices. Add the butter, cover, and leave to cook over medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the 3 cups of water, cover, and bring to a simmer.
Cook for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Add the raisins, honey, cinnamon and almonds. If needed, add additional water to cover the raisins. Cover the pot, and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the raisins are plump and the sauce is reduced to a thick, syrup-like consistency.
To serve; place the meat in the center of a serving dish, and distribute
Almond milk shakes–also called almond smoothies–are very popular in Morocco, particularly in Ramadan. A tiny bit of orange flower water gives this almond shake its classic taste. I like it best served icy cold. Use blanched and peeled almonds for this recipe. Since the ground almonds will eventually settle in the bottom of the glass, serve this shake immediately after blending.
1/2 cup almonds, blanched and peeled
1 and 1/2 cups cold milk
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
Splash of orange flower water
4 or 5 ice cubes, optional
Place the blanched almonds in a blender, and process until the almonds are a fine powder. Add the milk, sugar and orange flower water, and blend on high speed to mix well. If you like, add ice cubes while the blender is running to chill the drink even more.
Beer Shrimp Cocktail
1 pound(under-10) Jumbo Shrimp(Shell On)
10 oz. Lager Beer
1/4 cup Ketchup
1/4 cup Tomato Based Cocktail Sauce
1-2 tbsps Lager Beer Shrimp Both
2 tsps Horseradish
1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 tsp Tabasco Sauce
Butterfly raw shrimps by cutting through the shell along the back with a small paring knife deeply enough to allow the sides to open out, but don’t cut all the way through.
Bring beer to a boil.
Add shrimps to boiling beer and on high heat bring back to a boil as fast as possible.
As soon as the beer/shrimp mixture pot boils again, turn off heat and allow shrimps to cool in mixture.
Place shrimps and broth into a container and refrigerate. Let cool.
Once cool remove shrimps and peel leaving tail intact.
Prepare cocktail sauce by mixing all remaining ingredients.
Serve with lots of chopped basil.
SPICE OF THE WEEK:
The world’s most expensive spice is the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, which is native to Asia Minor. It takes 250,000 flowers to make just one pound of saffron. Fortunately, only a small quantity of saffron is needed to flavor and color a dish, whether sweet or savory. Saffron is sold as strands and in powder form, and has a beautiful flavor and aroma.