Monthly Archives: September 2008

Shalada Bortukal

I mentioned in the previous post that, as part of our farewell dinner, we enjoyed a glorious dessert of orange salad. The name for that salad is Shalada Bortukal. If you read my history of oranges (April 2, 2008), you’ll know that, a few centuries ago, the primary grower of sweet oranges in the Mediterranean region was Portugal, and that the country’s name came to identify sweet oranges. I don’t think it’s too hard to see Portugal in Bortukal—and, indeed, sweet oranges are the key to this recipe.

Surprisingly, for a dish that is so ambrosial, this is really easy to make. And I have never yet served this where someone didn’t (between ooohs and aaahs) comment that they would never have imagined these flavors being so good together. Enjoy.

Shalada Bortukal
(Moroccan Orange Salad)

4 navel oranges
2 Tbsp. rosewater
3 tsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Slice the oranges thinly and spread them on a platter (this can be done in stages, if you don’t have a large platter). Sprinkle rosewater over the oranges. Next, sprinkle the sugar over them. Finally, sprinkle the cinnamon over the oranges. Let chill for about 30 minutes. Toss lightly before serving. (If you want to make a presentation of this, chill oranges with just the sugar and rosewater, and then sprinkle on the cinnamon just before serving. You could also garnish it with a mint sprig.)

Note: Get really nice oranges. Bargain oranges sold in bulk are usually not as juicy and flavorful as the ones that are sold individually.

As for the rosewater, pretty much any Indian grocer will sell it, if you don’t have a place that caters to North African shoppers. It’s fairly common at the international stores, as well. Or you can find it on the Internet.

©2008 Cynthia Clampitt

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Morocco Rocks

a big part of Moroccan cuisine

Olives and preserved lemons: a big part of Moroccan cuisine

Granted, I fall in love with almost every place I visit, but Morocco really surpassed expectations. It was gorgeous, ancient, evocative, rich in culture, with friendly people and surprising scenery. I saw everything I expected and even more I didn’t expect.

I visited in March, and I tend to believe the locals who told me this was the best time of year to visit. The weather was perfect and everything was in bloom. As we traveled from Casablanca to Rabat, we were amazed at the beauty of the countryside: incredible greenery, fabulous wildflowers running riot in fields and on hillsides, olive groves, lush farms, and rows of trees interspersed between small towns. We followed the curve of the country, the Atlantic Ocean off to our left, and finally arrived in the medieval city of Rabat just after noon. It was lunchtime, so our first stop was, of course, a restaurant: Borj Eddar, a wonderfully weathered seaside establishment in an ancient, golden-stone building with a view of the ocean and the nearby walled city. We enjoyed a splendid meal of saffron-tinted fish soup, fresh, charcoal-grilled sardines, and a flavorful white fish for which we could get no recognizable name. Then it was off for a hike through Rabat. Continue reading

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Tarator

The recipe below is Bulgarian. The cucumber is combined with another appropriately ancient ingredient: walnuts are the oldest cultivated nuts. And yogurt is so quintessentially Bulgarian that you can see it in the name of one of the bacteria that produces yogurt: Lactobacillus bulgaricus. So this dish, or some version of it, goes back a few years.

Tarator is served chilled, and it is a lovely summer soup. Enjoy.

Tarator
Bulgarian Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Walnuts

1-2 cloves garlic
2 cups plain yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/3–1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried dill or 1 Tbs. fresh, finely chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup cold water

Finely mince the garlic and stir into the yogurt. Cut the cucumber into 1/4-inch dice and add to the yoghurt. Add walnuts, salt, and dill, and stir until thoroughly combined. Add the olive oil 1 Tbs. at a time, stirring until well blended. Finally, stir in the cold water.

Refrigerate at least one hour, until thoroughly chilled and flavors have blended. Serve in chilled bowls. Serves 4.

Notes: The easiest way to seed a cucumber is to cut it in half lengthwise, and then run the tip of a teaspoon down the center, scooping out all the seeds.

You may want to reserve a tablespoon or so of nuts to use as garnish when serving the soup. You might also wish to sprinkle a little extra dill on top.

I did see a recipe for tarator that tells you to just toss everything except the walnuts in a food processor, and then stir the walnuts into the purée. I like the texture of the older, hand-cut version, but the pureed version would taste just as good. Do what is easiest for you, and enjoy.

© 2008 Cynthia Clampitt

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