Cucina Marocco

SEVEN VEGETABLE COUSCOUS WITH CHICKEN (Bensafiddine)

1 lb couscous (not the instant kind)
11/2 - 2 lb chicken pieces on the bone
2 med. sized onions, sliced
1/2 lb daikon (white radish), cut into 2-3" x 1" pieces
1/2 lb carrots, cut into 2-3" x 1" pieces
1/2 lb zucchini, cut into 2-3" x 1" pieces
1/4-1/2 head of cabbage, cut into large pieces
1/2 lb. pumpkin or squash with skin cut into 2-3" x 1" pieces
1 lg. tomato, chopped
1/2 can of chickpeas (or 1 C dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water) 1 T salt
2 t pepper
2 t ginger
2 t cumin, ground
2 t coriander (ground)
1 t red pepper
1 T tumeric
Fresh parsley (about 10 stems and leaves)
Fresh coriander (about 10 stems and leaves)

1. Moisten the couscous with 1-1/2 cups of water, rubbing between hands to remove lumps; let sit for 1/2 hour

2. Place couscous in top part of couscoussier; you can fill bottom with water to steam the couscous or use the chicken and vegetable mixture to create the steam to cook the couscous

3. In the bottom part of the couscoussier sauté the onions in 2-3 T of olive oil over medium to high heat; when the onions are soft add the chicken pieces to brown

4. When chicken is brown add the salt, pepper, ginger, cumin, coriander, red pepper and tumeric; cook for another 5 minutes then add enough water to cover the chicken and simmer for another 5-10 minutes (be sure not to pour the water directly on the chicken as this will make the chicken tough)

5. Add all the slower cooking vegetables (except the tomatoes, chickpeas, zucchini, and cabbage); make a small bunch with the parsley and coriander stems, tie with a piece of string and put this in the liquid while it cooks; add enough water to cover the vegetables and simmer over a medium to low flame

6. At this point fit the top of the couscoussier (containing the moistened couscous) onto the bottom thus allowing the steam to cook the couscous; if there is any steam leaking out at the joint between the top and bottom of the couscoussier, soak a dishtowel in a flour and water mixture for a few minutes, wring it out and then tie the towel around the joint tightly to seal off any leaks; let simmer and steam for about 45 minutes and then proceed to the next step

7. Remove the top part of the couscoussier and pour the couscous out onto a large platter or flat shallow bowl, spreading it out and sprinkling it with cold water to cool it off so you can handle it; use a spoon to break up any big lumps and then let it sit for 5 minutes

8. Sprinkle a little more cold water (1/2 C) over the couscous and begin to rub it between your hands; you are trying to break up any clumps and to moisten and separate each grain of couscous; continue until the lumps have all been broken up

9. Return the couscous to the top of the couscoussier which you put back in place on the bottom part of the couscoussier and using the handle of a wooden spoon poke several holes in the couscous to let the steam seep out; let steam for another 45 minutes (if the chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the pot, and add more water at this stage if necessary)

10. Repeat steps 7 and 8 again; add the tomatoes, zucchini, cabbage and chickpeas to the mixture and add more water if necessary); put the top part of the couscoussier on the bottom and continue to simmer for 30-45 minutes

11. Repeat steps 7 and 8, this time sprinkling 2-3 T of olive oil over the couscous grains in addition to the water and rubbing that into it to coat the grains evenly; taste the couscous grains to see if they are ready; they should be fluffy almost bouncy (if they have a hard or chewy center, they need to cook longer), the grains should be cooked through and moist but not soggy (if they are soggy, they have cooked too long); one method for testing the couscous is to take one grain between your index finger and thumb and smash it - if it becomes a paste it is ready; tasting the couscous will determine how much longer it should cook but usually you will have to steam it for at least another 30 minutes (you may want to add the chicken back to the pot to warm it up)

Presentation:

Pour the couscous evenly on a large flat platter and make an indentation or well in the middle, about 3Ó in diameter; place the chicken pieces in this well

Using a slotted spoon begin removing the vegetables from the liquid in the pot and pile them up on the chicken; the vegetables should be used to form a cone on top of and around the meat and you may have to place the vegetables with your hands to get them to stay in place

Strain the liquid from the pot so you have just the stock, gently pour about 2 C of it over the vegetables and the couscous, but be careful not to wash the vegetables down the side of the cone.

Pour the remaining broth in a bowl which you should put on the table for people to serve themselves; I usually heat up some of the broth and dissolve 2-3 T harissa (Moroccan chili paste) in it and serve that along side the tamer broth

My friend who passed this recipe along to me said that in his family they always serve cold leben (a kind of watery yogurt) with couscous; this is delicious especially after the meal if you add a handful of couscous, some honey and cinnamon.

These days most Moroccans eat couscous from a common platter using spoons; each person eats from their section of the dish, pouring on broth to their taste, mixing the couscous with the meat and vegetables.

Traditionally, however, couscous is eaten with the hand. It seemed to me during my travels and meals with friends that only older women knew how to eat with their hands; they would scoop up the couscous grains, a little bit of vegetable and some meat, squish it into a ball and then start tossing it lightly in their cupped hand to round out the ball. Then they flick this ball into their mouth with their thumb like flipping a coin. Often they end up feeding us, trying to convince us that couscous tastes better when human hands touch it in this way (reminds me of metaphors of taking a shower with a raincoat).

ZALOUK - MOROCCAN SALAD (Bensafiddine)

2-3 green peppers (this salad can be made with eggplant instead of green peppers)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 small tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, minced
2 tsp. red pepper
2-3 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. tumeric
1/2 tsp. cumin
olive oil

- Put the green peppers on an open flame or under the broiler until the skin is burned black; put the peppers in a plastic bag rubbing briskly between the hands to remove the burned skin (if you are using eggplant instead of peppers, char them in the same manner, but simply scrape off the burned skin with a fork)

- Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium to high heat; when the onions have become soft add the peppers, tomatoes, red pepper and other spices; when the tomatoes are soft add the tomato paste; lower heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes

- Allow to cool before serving, sprinkle with minced parsley

PRESERVED LEMONS (CONFIT DE CITRON) (Bensafiddine)

Ingredients:

Lemons (cut in four parts lengthwise but not all the way through)
Coarse salt
Water
Jars (Bell jars are best, or any jar that can be sealed tightly)

- Pour about 2 T of salt into the opening in the lemon, squeeze it shut and place in the jar

- When the jar is filled with lemons, cover them with water and seal the jars tightly (you may want to put a sterilized flat rock on top of the lemons in the jar to keep them from floating above the water level)

- Place the jars in a cool dark place for 1-2 months or until the skin of the lemons becomes transparent, almost crystallized

- You may find a thin white skin on the surface of the water, this is normal so just skim it off and throw it away

- Preserved lemons have many uses, especially as an integral part of the traditional Moroccan dish called Chicken with Preserved Lemon and also in a tagine of chicken with olives and preserved lemons; the water from the jar can be used in salad dressings; very thin slices can be included in all sorts of salads

HARIRA (LAMB, LENTIL AND CHICKPEA SOUP)

Harira is the traditional meal eaten to break the fast during Ramadan; it is usually served with dates, figs and special sweets called chabakiya.

A Moroccan proverb says that if someone tells you the harira is cold, tell him to put his hand in it.

Broth:
1 lb of lamb cut in large pieces
1 small onion, minced
1/4 head of cabbage cut in largish pieces
1 C chickpeas soaked overnight (or from a can)
1/3 C lentils
2 quarts of water
1/4 C olive oil
1/3 C fresh parsley, minced
6-7 strands of saffron (soaked in a few tablespoons of hot water)
1/2 - 1 t pepper
2/3 t ginger
1 cube of chicken bouillon
salt
1/2 lemon

- Cook the lentils in salted water, when done drain then and squeeze the half lemon over them

- Cook all the other ingredients in a soup pot over low heat for 50-60 minutes (enough time to cook the meat and the chickpeas)

Additional ingredients:

1/4 C rice
1/4 C angel hair pasta, broken up
2 lbs crushed tomatoes (in cans)
3 T flour
1/3 C fresh coriander, minced
salt

- Add the tomatoes to the broth previously prepared and cook for 10 minutes

- Mix the flour with a little water to form a paste and then add this to the soup a little bit at a time while stirring constantly to avoid lumps

- Bring the soup to a boil, add the rice, pasta, coriander and the salt; allow to simmer another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally

- Add the lentils, let cook for another 5 minutes and serve in bowls with lemon wedges on the side for those who want to add it to their soup

- Harira should be somewhat creamy but not thick so if it is too thick add a little water and cook for a few more minutes; if it is too thin add a little flour and water paste to thicken it

- Some cooks break an egg into the soup during the last five minutes of cooking and mix it well to keep it from solidifying

COUSCOUS TFAYA
(with lamb or chicken, onions, chickpeas and raisins)

2 lbs chicken in parts or lamb
2 lbs onions, thinly sliced
1 lb couscous (not instant)
2 C raisins
1 1/2 C chickpeas soaked overnight (or one can)
1 1/2 t Ginger
1 1/2 t Tumeric
1/2 t Black pepper
1 t Salt
3 t Cinnamon
3-4 T Sugar or honey
Olive oil

- Moisten the couscous with 1-1/2 cups of water, rubbing between hands to remove lumps; let sit for 1/2 hour

- Place couscous in top part of couscoussier and fill bottom with water; bring the water to a boil and steam couscous while preparing chicken (see instructions from Couscous de Sept Legumes)

- Brown the chicken in olive oil with half of the onions; when browned reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes;

- Add all the spices (except cinnamon) and the rest of the onions, the raisins and 1 1/2 C water; let simmer for 10 minutes; add cinnamon and chickpeas; continue to simmer until chicken is fully cooked

- When chicken is cooked remove it from the pot and continue to cook slowly simmer the onions, raisins and chickpeas

- Add more cinnamon to taste and add water so that the mixture doesn’t burn

- After about 10 minutes add the sugar or honey and let it dissolve; add a little more water if needed and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until mixture begins to caramelize; add the chicken about 5-10 before the end to heat it up

- To serve, pour couscous on a large place and form a well in the middle; place the chicken pieces in the well and then put the onion, raisin chickpea mixture on the chicken forming a kind of pyramid.

CHICKEN WITH PRESERVED LEMON

2 lbs of chicken, whole or in pieces
1 T Ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
7-8 threads of saffron (soaked for 10 minutes in hot water)
3 T olive oil
1 small onion
skin of one preserved lemon cut in four pieces
1 dozen green olives (or more if you prefer)
2 T butter
Salt

- In a saucepan over medium heat, brown the chicken in the olive oil, add the salt, butter, ginger, onion, garlic, saffron (the water also) and 1 1/2 C water

- Bring the water to a boil, and then turn the chicken, stir the mixture; reduce the heat to medium to low and simmer

- Keep an eye on the sauce to make sure that it doesn’t reduce completely, adding water if necessary

- When the onion is cooked, remove it from the pot

- When the chicken is cooked and starting to come off the bone remove it from the pot, rub butter on it and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until the skin is brown

- Return the chicken to the pot, add the olives and the preserved lemon and let cook for another 10-15 minutes

- Remove the chicken, olives and lemons and place them on a platter; let the sauce reduce and then pour over the chicken before serving

TAGINE WITH LAMB AND ONIONS/SHALLOTS

1/2- 1 lb. lamb on the bone
2 medium onions (or shallots) sliced thinly
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1 Tbs. cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4-5 threads of saffron (soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
for 10 minutes to release flavor and color)
Olive oil

In a medium-sized saucepan heat 2-3 Tbs of olive oil over high flame; add the onion and lamb to brown until the onions are soft and transparent; add the spices except for the cinnamon; reduce the head and add 1/2 - 1 cup of water, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until meat is tender; add more water if necessary and salt and spices to taste; add cinnamon about 10 minutes before the end of cooking. This dish can alsobe prepared in a traditional tagine pot, which can be purchased from Maison Kenzi below.

TAGINE WITH LAMB ZUCCHINI AND PEAS

1/2-1 lb. of lamb shanks
1/2 lb. peas, shelled
3 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 fennel heart, sliced (or artichoke hearts, chopped)
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. cumin
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. coriander, powdered
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh parsley, minced
4-5 threads of saffron (soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
for 10 minutes to release flavor and color)
olive oil

In a medium-sized saucepan sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil and when the onions are soft add the lamb to brown; when brown add the spices and let cook for another 5 minutes; add the peas, zucchini and fennel heart along with 1 cup of water (more if more sauce is desired) and let simmer for 15 minutes over a medium to low flame; taste for salt and other spices and serve hot. This dish can alsobe prepared in a traditional tagine pot, which can be purchased from Maison Kenzi below.

TAGINE OF LAMB WITH POTATOES, ZUCCHINI AND ARTICHOKE

1 lb. of lamb shanks
2 medium potatoes, 1/8” slices
3 medium zucchini, in finger-sized wedges
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2-3 artichoke hearts (fresh, not pickled)
1 tsp. ginger
1 Tbs. pepper
1 tsp. tumeric
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. red pepper
2 Tbs. salt
4-5 threads of saffron (soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
for 10 minutes to release flavor and color)
olive oil

-Start preparing coals so that they will be red when you are ready preparing the tagine for cooking; the coals can be prepared in a barbecue or a hibachi and there should be enough to last for 2 hours

- You will need a tagine pot which consists of a flat round terra cotta dish with a rim, and a cone shaped top (you can use an oven safe casserole or a cast iron pot instead) [See photo above and also below for information on how to purchase a tagine]

- Place the lamb shanks in the center of the tagine dish creating a flattish mound; next cover the meat with a layer of onions followed by a layer of potatoes, then the zucchini and then the artichokes; sprinkle with the spices (except for the saffron) and pour 3T of olive oil over the ingredients

- Place the tagine dish on the barbecue/hibachi and cover; after about 10 minutes of cooking pour 1- 1 1/2 cups of water over the ingredients and cover again; there is no predetermined cooking time - the dish is ready when the ingredients are ready; the meat should be fully cooked and tender and the vegetables should not be too mushy; keep an eye on the tagine to make sure it doesn’t dry out; about 10 minutes before it is finished cooking add the saffron and the water

- Serve hot right in the tagine dish; let everyone eat from the dish using their hands and pieces of bread.

 

 

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