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Casbah Cookery

posted by in Indulgences
morocco food 1

grilled chicken with yogurt photo from “The Grilling Book: the definitive guide by Bon Appetit” which is very similar to my own personal recipe, unfortunately I have no photos of mine; spices from www.nathab.com; couscous from www.foodchannel.com; sun dried tomatoes from enduringsun.com; roasted bell pepper and feta salad

Morocco is the backdrop of films and exotic dreams. Markets in Fez with stacks of spices, saffron, turmeric, coriander… The French have always kept close ties with Morocco. Things worked out rather peacefully for them as compared to their Mediterranean cousins in Algeria. Couscous — and I don’t mean the grain that is actually called “semoule,” but the dish with a rich hearty broth, stewed vegetables, merguez, lamb, chicken… you name it — couscous is just as Parisian as French onion soup. Every other café, brasserie or bistro will serve couscous either on their regular menu or on a Friday special. There are a number of amazing Moroccan restaurants in Paris and I’ve had the opportunity to even try homemade tajines. But never, never have I ever had the privilege of going there myself.

I studied Moroccan history during university and we had to choose topics to focus on for an oral presentation. Does it surprise you that I did a piece on the use of sun-dried tomatoes and saffron in Morocco? The layers and the precision; these women take pride in making their food. There are no shortcuts, everything is about layers of flavor and the patience in preparation. There’s a balance of spice, earthiness, heat, freshness and acidity. Lemon confit, harissa, bell peppers, cinnamon, coriander, saffron…

doris day eating

Moroccan Chicken and Couscous

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 large chicken breasts or thigh fillets
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon harissa chilli paste
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 200g plain yoghurt
  • 300g couscous
  • 375ml boiling water
  • 50g raisins
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 red onion minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Procedure:

In a bowl, mix ½ of yoghurt withcumin, coriander, cinnamon, harissa, and 1 garlic clove and some olive oil.season chicken and marinate in the yoghurt mixture for at least 10 minutes. Prepare by pouring boiling water on it and cover with a towel. Let the couscous absorb the liquid. Add some olive oil, salt, and pepper and use a fork to separate the grains. Add the raisins and red onion to the couscous. Grill on pan fry the chicken on medium heat until cooked through about 5 to 7 minutes per side depending on the thickness. While cooking, make a yoghurt sauce with the remaining yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, turmeric, mint, salt, and pepper. Add 1 teaspoon more of harissa if you like it spicy. Serve chicken with couscous garnished with cilantro and sauce on the side.

Roasted Bell Pepper with Feta

Serves 2

  • 3-4 red and yellow bell peppers depending on size
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp. crumbled feta
  • A pinch of dried thyme
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

In a roasting pan, place bell peppers lying down and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven set on broil on high heat (you could use a toaster oven). Roast the bell peppers till soft and slightly charred. Flip them over to roast the other side as well. Approximately 10 minutes per side depending on the strength of the oven. Allow to cool. Peel and remove seeds and stems. Slice into large strips and toss in a bowl with some black pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Arrange on a platter and crumble feta on top. Garnish with the thyme and parsley plus drizzle a little more olive oil. *note: I don’t salt the bell peppers because the feta is salty enough. I love the contrast between the sweetness of the roasted peppers, the acidity of the balsamic and the creamy saltiness of the feta.

 

Quick and easy tabbouleh

Serves two as a condiment

Tabbouleh is usually made with some cracked and cooked bulghur which can take a little long to make. A cheat version is to nix it completely or replace with a teensy bit of your cooked couscous.

  • 1 ½ cups chopped parsley ( I use a mix of flat leaf and curly parsley, flat leaf for flavor and curly to lower cost and add volume)
  • 1 large salad tomato or 2-3 native tomatoes cut into small cubes (concassé)
  • ½ small red onion minced
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp. cooked bulghur wheat or plain cooked couscous

In a bowl mix all the ingredients together and allow them to sit for around 10 minutes to let the flavors marinate and blend together.

Comments - One Response to “ Casbah Cookery ”

  1. Nikki Cortes says:

    Hiya,

    Copied both recipes. Will try :)

    Cheers for sharing here!

    Nikki

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The Author

Stephanie
Stephanie
Writer. Traveller. Wino. Foodie. Bohemian at heart. "You can not travel the path until you have become the path itself." - Buddha


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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.

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