Tag Archives: Morocco

Djej Makalli

Since I’ve written a fair bit about Morocco on this blog (original post here, plus a redirect to more extensive writing here), I figured it wouldn’t be amiss to include yet another Moroccan recipe — especially because, if you’ve gone to the trouble of making preserved lemons (see previous two posts), you might want more than one way to use them. So here is another use for those lemons — a wonderful Moroccan tagine of chicken with preserved lemons and olives. (I’ve also written about olives and their history, and offered a recipe for Moroccan marinated olives, so you’re getting to the place now that you could create an entire Moroccan meal. Just add the Moroccan orange salad for dessert.)

Traditionally, this would be cooked in the earthenware cooking vessel known as a tagine (of which I wrote here), but the recipe below has been modified for preparation in more common cooking vessels, so you can enjoy it even without owning a tagine. However, so common is the cooking method that the dish (and other tagine-cooked dishes like it) is also known as a tagine.

So while I generally encourage people to simply add a few exotic elements to their regular menu, rather than trying to prepare entire meals from one country (just to make the task of expanding one’s repertoire a bit less daunting), with this recipe, you’ll now be able to cook an entire Moroccan meal, should you wish to do so. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Continue reading

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Shalada bil Matesha Basila w’l’Hamad m’Rakad

Okay–so you’ve made your preserved lemons, right? If not, look at the last post, and a week from now, you’ll be ready to make this salad.

This delicious, refreshing salad is Moroccan. It’s a great side dish for summer barbecues–it can’t be beat with meat. But if I’m serving it alone, or with something less robust, I’ll substitute a sweet onion for the more pungent red onion.

And just in case you didn’t start your lemons last week, but still want to make this dish, preserved lemons are now being marketed in the U.S. by Moroccan companies, so you may be able to find them online or in a good import shop. However, it won’t be as cheap, or as fun, as making your own–but they will be just as good. Continue reading

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Preserved Lemons

Olives and Preseved Lemons, Morocco

A handful of ingredients stand as cornerstones of Moroccan cuisine. One of those things is preserved lemons. The preserved lemons in the image above were preserved whole, which is very dramatic looking and may be more authentic, but it takes a month. The recipe below is for “quick” preserved lemons — it only takes a week. These add a distinctive flavor to many Moroccan dishes, some of which I’ll share with you once you’ve made your preserved lemons.

“Speedy” Preserved Lemons

2 ripe lemons
1/3 cup coarse (kosher) salt
1/2 cup lemon juice
olive oil

Try to find lemons that don’t have terribly thick skins. They should be ripe and fragrant. Scrub the lemons and dry them well, then cut each one into eight wedges. Toss the wedges with the salt and place them in a 1/2-pint glass jar with a plastic-coated lid.

Alternatively, if your lemons are not small enough to fit in a 1/2-pint jar (and most lemons sold at your average Midwest grocery store are not that small), toss a few more wedges in additional salt, and keep adding until the jar is pretty firmly packed. But don’t go with too big a jar. (I usually find that 2-1/2 large lemons work in a 1-pint jar.) Continue reading

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More on Morocco

A while back, I published a post about my trip to Morocco. More recently, I was encouraged to put my notes from the trip on Wattpad (a site for writers to share their work–ostensibly in an effort to promote themselves as writers, though I haven’t seen that happen). So if you’re interested in a more detailed account of my visit, you can read my Morocco Diary on Wattpad. The gray menu bar at the top of the text box gives you access to each successive day. This is, in fact, a transcript of my diary from the trip, so it’s not polished — but there is a lot of information that might be interesting and useful, especially if you wanted to visit Morocco yourself.

If the trip sounds good to you, you might want to know that I went with Overseas Adventure Travel. If you’ve never traveled with them before, they’re an excellent outfit. I recommend them highly. Also, if haven’t traveled with them, you can give them my name and customer number (000637771A) and you’ll get $50 off your first tour.

Hope you enjoy the adventure — and maybe even become inspired to head off on your own Moroccan Odyssey.

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Tagines

Tagines in the Meknes Market, Morocco

Tagines are the cooking vessels of choice in Morocco. The word tagine has also come to refer to anything cooked in a tagine, so one sees listed on menus “chicken tagine with preserved lemon” or “lamb tagine with prunes” (both favorites).

Different regions in Morocco have different styles of tagines, but all tagines produce the kind of wonderfully blended flavors one gets from moist, low-heat cooking. The image above is of a pile tagines in a market in Morocco. These are all cooking tagines. There are fancier serving tagines, which are fancier but not suited to cooking. I learned how to cook in a tagine while in Morocco, but really, the only secrets are to make sure you season your tagine (which involves soaking, oiling, and heating), use a heat defuser between the tagine and your stove burner, and pick a recipe that sounds good. As an fyi, the hole in the top of the tagine is a spoon rest—stick the handle of the spoon in the hole, and it’s just deep enough to keep the spoon from falling out. Given the number of places I saw tagines simmering away where there was no cooking surface on which to lay a spoon, this is tremendously practical.

I mention all this because I discovered a great place to buy tagines. Granted, they might have been cheaper while I was in Morocco, but they’re heavy, bulky, and can break, so trying to carry one home is just not one of the things I was willing to consider. But I still wanted one—and I was fortunate enough to discover tagines.com. They are lovely to do business with, ship the tagine carefully packaged so it arrives in one piece, and even offer a couple of recipes. If you don’t feel like making your own preserved lemons, or didn’t bring two pounds of ras el hanout home from a trip, they offer these key ingredients on the site as well. The image below is of my tagine, the standard-size Rifi cooking tagine. Lots of fun, if you want to try cooking Moroccan food the way Moroccans do.

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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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