Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 4, Dessert & Beverage)

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Welcome back my wonderful readers to this Moroccan edition of Global Eats! It’s been a wonderful journey 😄

Here we are at Part 4, the end of my research and recipes on Morocco, and possibly the end of Global Eats for a time.

You can view parts I-III below, if ya care to:

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 1, Intro)

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 2, Condiment)

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 3, Main Dish)

But today, oh today is about….

Dessert! (And tea…but mostly dessert!)

I’m pretty excited for this one. How about you? Today I am sharing pictures from a recipe for Moroccan Coconut and Semolina Cookies, from blog Tajoon.

What I love about this blog is that it is authentic Moroccan food from a Moroccan blogger.

Loubna lives in the states but is from Morocco. One issue I had with this series is that it was difficult to find authentic recipes from Moroccan bloggers. This site has quite a few awesome recipes & I was happy to find it.

Making the Coconut and Semolina Cookies

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Here is the set up for the cookies. I planned to make a 1/2 batch.

I subbed a few ingredients here. I didn’t have much white sugar (I try not to use it too much) so I used part white sugar and part coconut sugar.

Because the coconut flakes I had were on the chunky side, I ground them down a bit with a mortar and pestle to give it a finer texture.

Then lastly, I did not have orange water but I used what rose water I had. That stuff smells so good! 🌹😊

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A half batch made 12 good-sized cookies.

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These were messy, oh so messy to make. But fun and pretty easy.

As the cookies cooled, I made a cup of chocolate mint tea and let it steep for a good hour or so.

Then I added some raw honey and poured it into a pretty glass jelly jar.

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What I Love About This Recipe

Several things. First of all…

  • It’s dairy-free.
  • It uses a flour I’ve never worked with before.
  • And you don’t have to chill the dough.

Taste

The taste is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in a cookie. Like I said, I’ve never used semolina flour. The texture is a bit like fine cornmeal.

Texture

The texture of these cookies is what I would call crunchy. But not crispy. The semolina flour and coconut gave these cookies a good bit of texture. To me they tasted like a crispy waffle.

After letting these cookies sit overnight, I would say that the texture improved. The cookies were less crunchy and softer in texture.

I think this is the same concept as a cake made with oil. The first day it’s a bit dry. So you let it sit and its better the next day.

Taste

Not a whole lot of taste going on. Maybe this is due to the coconut sugar? There is some flavor from the coconut flakes and flour but it’s not like the dramatically flavored and sweetened American cookies I know.

But that’s probably a good thing. More sugar=more cravings=you can’t stop eating them=sugar crash.

These are good cookies and they do go well with the sweetened mint tea. They go well with a hot beverage the same way that biscotti goes well with coffee or whatnot. Although I’ve heard most Italians like their biscotti with wine…

Conclusion

Quick Preserved lemons, Chicken, Apricot and Almond Tagine and Coconut and Semolina Cookies.

Thus ends the Moroccan edition of my Global Eats series. Hope you’ve enjoyed our journey through the beautiful and uniquely delicious country of Morocco.

It’s been far from a complete culinary experience but I’ve had a lot of fun learning about so many unique dishes and flavors. And I’ve enjoyed sharing some of what I’ve learned with you guys. 🙂

It’s been a fun series but I’m looking forward to writing about other things.

I just finished planning my garden today so perhaps that will be one of the upcoming categories.

Thank-you for following along & God bless!

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Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 3, Main Dish)

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Introduction

Hello and welcome back to the Global Eats series! This is country #2 in my new series.

 

Previously in the series on Morocco I shared:

Post #1-Global Eats: Morocco (Part 1, Intro)

Post #2-Global Eats: Morocco (Part 2, Condiment)

Check it out if you wish! Post #1 will give you a bit of background if you are not familiar with the food/culture of the country.

Goals for the Series

My intent is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1.  How do people in other countries save money on food?
  2.  What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

In my intro post, I covered question #2. I learned a lot about the common foods eaten and grown in Morocco.

And then in my last post, I shared my experience with preserving lemons. Why did I bother? Well because preserved lemons are awesome, obviously (nevermind the fact that I had no idea what they were for until I started reading about Morocco).

But mainly because I wanted to make tagine, and all Moroccan tagines call for preserved lemon.

 

The Main Dish: Moroccan Chicken, Apricot and Almond Tagine

The photos I’m sharing today are guided by the recipe for tagine which was created by The Daring Gormet.

Check out the site {via the link above} for the recipe 😊

And you may be wondering…ok so what is a tagine? Glad you asked!

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See the pots in the front that look like flower vases with a wide base? Those are tagines. They are cooking pots, for cooking..you guessed it. Tagines. How do they work?

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A tagine has 2 pieces. The bottom part is a bowl and the top part is the lid. The food is cooked on the stove and then served as is.

The cool part about a tagine pot is that the shape is created so that the moisture rises and drips down back to the food, keeping it moist and tender. Much like a crockpot or a dutch oven. (I used the latter.)

You may be wondering where the tagine pot originally came from and who invented it. I’m not 100% sure on this one. Most sources said that nomads in North Africa used them, although no specific country or person was credited.

It’s a really cool invention huh? Kinda like the predecessor to the modern day crock pot. Super cool.

Cooking it Up

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First of all, this was really good. Second of all there are 3 ingredients here that I want to spend a bit of time talking about.

Preserved Lemon

I talked about this in my previous post. I wasn’t 100% sure on why this was a necessary ingredient in tagine until I actually tried the dish.

I don’t know what the 4-week preserved lemons are supposed to taste like but I think the quick preserved lemons I used turned out well.

The recipe just called for 1/2 of a preserved lemon so I just added 2 pieces of it to the pot. I didn’t cut it up, just left it whole because I wasn’t so sure about eating it, to be honest.

Harissa

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I purchased this harissa hot sauce from Amazon. I thought about making my own, but ended up not doing so because I couldn’t find the right kind of peppers.

The ingredients in the picture are tiny but it says “Rehydrated chilli 52%, water, modified starch corn, salt, garlic, coriander, caraway, acidity regulator: citric acid”.

And yep it is hot. I tried a very small amount and it tasted chock full of cayenne pepper. The recipe called for 1 Tablespoon of it which I thought might be too much…but it ended up being perfect and wonderfully balanced.

Couscous

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I used this kind of couscous instead of following the directions in the recipe because I couldn’t find plain couscous at the store.

It ended up being really good and it went with the recipe pretty well. Garlic couscous is the way to go 😉

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Alright back to the food.

Flavors

What did this dish taste like?

There were a lot, and I mean A LOT of flavors going on here. Let me break it down.

  • Spices. right away I could taste cinnamon, followed by turmeric. Cumin slightly.
  • Spicy. The harissa I could taste, but it wasn’t overly powerful. The spiciness was pleasant & lingered.
  • Sweet. there was definitely a sweet element with the raisins and butternut squash. I couldn’t taste or find the apricot but I’m sure it added to the sweetness as well.
  • Sour. I could taste the preserved lemon in places. I didn’t eat the actual pieces but the lemon flavor was definitely more mellow but still had that bright citrus taste.

Overall this was very good. I loved the complex flavor. The sweet and spicy was balanced. There was great texture with the chickpeas, butternut squash and dried fruit.

The slivered almonds added an unfamiliar crunch that I didn’t especially care for, and yet it didn’t make me want to stop eating 😋😋

Saving Money

The last element I want to briefly mention are the frugal aspects of this dish. Looking at this meal, you wouldn’t think it is frugal at first because it has 25 ingredients. I used 22 and 6 of those are seasonings.

Also, just want to mention that this makes a lot of food. Like 4 generous servings, at least.

Another thing I see here is that the ingredients with the larger amounts are pretty cheap. Butternut squash, couscous and garbanzo beans are all pretty inexpensive. 

Also, there was only 1 pound of chicken in the whole recipe. Adding chickpeas and almonds adds more protein and keeps the cost down.

Basically:

  • Lots of spices & seasonings
  • Small amounts of pricier food.
  • Keep expensive meats at minimum.
  • Add alternate sources of protein.
  • Bulk up on produce.

 

Conclusion

What I love about this series is that I (sometimes) think that people around the world are so different but I am everytime so pleasantly suprised that we are so similar and have so much in common.

There are differences in our surroundings, in our countries. But in the end we all just want good, delicious and frugal food.

Stay tuned for more Moroccan food! The next post will be either a side dish or dessert. Haven’t decided yet 😃

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Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 2,Condiment)

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On Wednesday (2 days ago) I mentioned that my next post on Moroccan food would be a condiment.

And so here we have…

Preserved Lemons!

I was really super intrigued by this idea of preserving citrus. I had read about the process in a preserving book last summer but didn’t attempt it, due to the fact that I had no real use for or ambition to use preserved lemons.

However, in reading through a lot of recipes for Moroccan tagine (slow cooked stew), almost all of them call for a bit of preserved lemon.

I was thinking, “What’s the big deal? Why does it need to be preserved lemon? Can’t I just use lemon juice or something..you know…easier?”.

But what I’m going for is that authentic Morroccan flavor. And as I learned last time with oyster sauce in the recipe for Philippine Ginisang Togue, flavor and authenticity is key.

And so I set out to find a recipe.

And ran into a problem.

Preserved lemons take 4 weeks to make. What?? Yeah. Regarding my time frame I had for the series, I did not have time to make it that way.

The Recipe

And luckily, I found a recipe for Quick Preserved Lemons, from myrecipes.com which has been a lifesaver.

And so I made the preserved lemons, because I was so wanting to make a tagine.

(Bear with me…my picture settings are being glitchy and not allowing me to write captions.)

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I got 2 organic lemons from the store, cut them into quarters and added 2 Tablespoons sea salt (subbed for Kosher salt) and about 1 cup of water.

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Afterwards. Looked kinda gross but smelled heavenly.

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Right after I made it. I imagined the peels would soften as they sat in the salt and juices. (And they did.)

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After sitting in the fridge for a few days. It looks oily but I think that’s just the mix of lemon pulp and saturated salty lemon juice.

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All that remains here is the peel…the actual fruit part is super soft, almost like a cooked onion.

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Lemony Thoughts

I didn’t actually try the lemons themselves but I did try a bit of the..(sauce?) they were preserved in. And I made a face. Because it was super-salty. And super-sour. Big suprise, right?

But it smelled heavenly. The most amazing, sunny and beautiful lemon fragrance.

And now I think I’m beginning to understand why preserved lemon had value. It’s just a way to prolong the harvest of a plentiful seasonal fruit. Much like we make applesauce or strawberry jam here in the U.S.

And I can also see how these lemons will add a bit of the sour in the sweet & sour cooking that is common in Morocco.

Stay tuned for my main dish post next week! It will hopefully be up on Tuesday.

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Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 1, Intro)

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Introduction

Welcome back to the Global Eats series! This is a series I’ve been doing to help myself (and hopefully others) learn more about the value of food from other countries.

This is a…

  • cultural appreciation,
  • history lesson
  • and culinary education all rolled into one.

My last 4 posts were all about the Philippines. I shared my inspiration for the series in my first post Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro).

Long story short, I read a post by another blogger and it inspired me to seek out the unique history, ingredients and flavors that are common in other cultures.

And let’s face it. It’s been a great way to distract from the winter blahs.

My intent in this series is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1. How do people in other cultures save money on food?
  2. What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

Question #2 will be answered in this post. The others I hope to answer by the end of this series on Morocco.

I am very excited to begin learning as much as I can about the foods that are popular and loved in different countries around the globe.

Disclaimer: I am not Moroccan but I will try my best to share what I have learned. To anyone who is Moroccan or is more knowledgeable on the topic, please feel free to share info or correct me if I am in error at any point in my posts.

 

History of Food & Melding of Cultures

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Question: what is the history that shaped present day food dishes in Morocco?

Morocco is located in Northern Africa and borders the nations of Western Sahara and Algeria. Spain and Portugal lie quite close to it’s northern shores.

It has the Atlantic ocean on it’s western coast and a small part of the Mediterranean Sea on it’s northeastern side.

The food history of the country is a complex blend of the Berber people with Arabic, Moorish and French influences.

 

Berbers

As far as we know, the Berber people were the first to make their home in present-day Morocco. However, most peoples in the country today are a mix of Berber and Arabic ethnicities. The origin of the Berber people is difficult to trace. But we do know they ate things like olives, figs, dates, couscous and chickpeas (or garbanzo beans). All of these things are still staples today.

 

Arabs

The Arabs arrived next and their prominence lasted a little over 1,000 years, from about the 600’s A.D. to the 1700s. Morocco is still largely Berber/Arabic but influence-wise there was a break in political power.

From the Arabs, foods like spices from India and Asia were introduced (cinnamon, ginger, cumin, etc.). Also nuts and dried fruits along with a sweet and sour flavor common in Persian cooking.

 

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Moores

The Moores came from Spain around 700 A.D. and were largely responsible for upping the consumption of olives, plus introducing olive oil and citrus trees and fruit.

 

The French

This part was new to me. In the early 1900s, the country of Morocco declared bankruptcy. This led to The Treaty of Fes, under which Morocco became a French colony until it’s independence in 1956. Oddly there wasn’t a lot of French culinary influence aside from the dessert and the whole café experience. Who doesn’t love French pastries? 😋😋

That covers the food history. So if you were to walk through Morocco today, what are some foods and ingredients that would stand out?

 

Common & Unique Ingredients

In my reading, there were 4 foods (plus a beverage) that I thought were rather unique. They were:

  • Argan oil
  • preserved lemons
  • harissa
  • and Ras El Hanout.
  • (Plus the very popular mint tea.)

What are these things and how are they eaten in Morocco?

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Argan oil is made from the kernels of the argan tree. Argan trees are common in Morocco. So common that people will use the oil as a dip for bread.

I find this interesting because I use Argan oil as a facial moisturizer and it is neither easy to find nor cheap to buy in my particular area of the U.S.

 

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Another common ingredient in Moroccan cooking is preserved lemons. I first heard of this from a canning and preserving book last summer. Now I know what it can be used in and where in the globe it is a common ingredient.

Preserved lemons are in various recipes but I think especially so in tagine, which is a special slow cooked stew.

 

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Harissa and Ras El Hanout are two ingredients that add a bit of a spicy kick. Although they are popular in Morocco, they are also used overall in North African cusine.

Harissa is a thick, spicy sauce made from fresh and dried hot chili peppers and spices like caraway and cumin, among other ingredients.

Ras El Hanout translated means “top of shop”. It is a blend of as few as 10 and as many as 100 spices. I found a few recipes online but none that had more than 22 ingredients. I wouldn’t have thought to combine spices like cinnamon and allspice with coriander and turmeric but that is exactly what this recipe does.

 

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Mint tea is also a big deal in this country. It is served daily and  always served sweetened.

 

Tying it All Together

How to explain Moroccan food? From reading and research only I can see that this food as a whole is rich and complex.

I see sweet mixed with savory and lots of seasonings. Spices like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg are combined with hot spices like cayenne and spices used in Indian cooking like turmeric and cumin. I think that this will make for some interesting flavors.

Besides spices, other common ingredients that I observed were things like chicken, almonds, carrots, chickpeas, raisins, lentils and onions.

 

Plans for the Moroccan Series

So what’s next? Next I am planning on writing 4 posts based on recipes for authentic Moroccan dishes. As of now, one will be a condiment, then a main dish, a side dish and finally a dessert with a beverage.

I am excited to begin this series and I look forward to the new recipes and flavors I will encounter.

The condiment dish I am planning on having up on the blog later this week. See you then!

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Photo credit: All photos from pixabay and Unsplash.


 

Sources:

The Multicultural Cookbook for Students, by Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko Webb

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www.fescooking.com

The Art of Moroccan Cuisine: A Culture of Eating, Drinking, and Being Hospitable

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www.foodbycountry.com

Food in Every Country/Kazakhstan to South Africa/Morocco

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www.bbc.com

Africa-Morocco country profile

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www.infoplease.com

Morocco

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www.foodal.com

The Magic of Moroccan Cuisine

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http://www.thespruce.com

Collection of Authentic Moroccan Comfort Food Recipes

10 Famous Moroccan Dishes You Should Try

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www.mymoroccanfood.com

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