Have you ever been bored of the things you eat from day to day? While you still love them, and *know* that you’re ultimately going to go back to them.. Sometimes you just look at them with tired eyes and say, “Not tonight, Burrito..”
That is where I, or rather.. This blog comes in. Our aim is tantalize you with dreams of far away lands and foods, and to make you crave life again. It’s alright though, we can keep it a secret if you want. Though we would much rather you introduce us to your friends once in a while. (*ahem*).
Today’s post is going to be a bit different. Instead of a singular recipe, you are going to get an entire planned out meal. Morrocan Style. There may be a few items or ingredients that you are unfamiliar with here, but don’t be discouraged! I have listed and explained all unusual items at the bottom of the page. Today we will be cooking in whats called a ‘Tagine‘. A Tagine is two things; 1: a type of stew. And 2: the earthenware pot with a conical lid that the stew is often cooked in. If you cannot get your hands on one of these, however, you can get away with using a large skillet.
Lets get to it!
Okra & Chickpea Tagine, From EatingWell: Sep/Oct 2008
- 1 pound fresh or frozen okra, stem ends trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 10 sprigs fresh cilantro (tied together), plus more leaves for garnish
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 plum tomatoes, diced, or 1 cup drained canned diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon harissa, (see Notes)
- First, start by placing a large bowl of ice water next to the stove. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, then add the okra. Cook for 2 minutes, then transfer the okra with a slotted spoon to the ice water to blanch it. Drain, and set aside. Warning: when you blanch the okra, it will turn very slimy. The water will thicken and also look viscous. Don’t worry though, once you drain the okra and add it to the rest of the ingredients it will be fine!
- Next, heat olive oil in a cured tagine dish set over a heat diffuser or a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- After you see the oil getting hot enough, add the chopped bell pepper. Cook until tender, about two minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, 3 to 6 minutes.
- Mix in tomatoes, broth, cumin, the okra, cilantro sprigs and half the bell pepper. Reduce heat to medium; partially cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the okra is soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Stir in chickpeas and salt; cook for 4-6 minutes. Remove from the heat; discard the cilantro sprigs. Stir in harissa (or hot sauce). Serve sprinkled with the remaining bell pepper and cilantro leaves, if desired.
Morrocan Mint Tea
Wikipedia has a very interesting article on traditional Morrocan Mint Tea, and I highly recommend giving it a read, here. If you are looking for something a little more instant, I highly recommend this brand. Normally I am not a fan of Mint outside of toothpaste or chocolate, but I genuinely enjoyed this tea and the ceremony surrounding it.
Gunpowder Green Tea
Fresh Spearmint Leaves
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or smen, if you can find it)
1 Tablespoon Ras En Hanout
Large pinch of saffron (optional)
2 1/4 cups Morrocan Couscous (not pearled)
3 cups vegetable broth, warmed
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Preserved Lemons, small diced
Heat the butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons spice blend and the saffron, if desired, in a large skillet over medium-high heat until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Add the couscous and stir until toasted, about 1 minute. Stir in the warm broth, remove from the heat, cover and set aside until the couscous is plump, about 7 minutes. Add the lemon juice and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon spice blend. I took the liberty of adding some small diced preserved lemons, and i think it made all the difference.
Carrot and Orange Juice salad
This recipe was actually quite fun and easy to make. All you have to do is mix the ingredients in the order listed, and you will have a delightfully sweet and unique salad! I used a Food processor for my carrot, but you could buy them pre-shredded if you feel so inclined. It’ll just change the texture.
1 Large shredded Carrot
1 Large Orange, freshly squeezed.
Rosewater, couple dashes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 spoonful of sugar
TIPS & NOTES
- Ingredient notes:
- Harissa is a fiery Tunisian chile paste commonly used in North African cooking. I found mine at the nearby World Market, but you could easily order some from amazon.com. Tubed Harissa will be much hotter than that in a jar. You can substitute w/ Sambal Oelek.
- Okra: This one may or may not be familiar depending on your background. Due to it’s rather.. Unique properties, when Okra is cut, it will turn slimy and sticky (oh joy!). The fact of the matter is, the more places an okra is cut, the more surface area the mucilage will be able to cover.To side step this a bit, after boiling the okra I rinsed it a few times to get rid of most of the slime. For more on the ‘whys’ and science of it, read here.
- Cilantro: Instead of using kitchen string to tie the cilantro stalks together, I just used two of the stalks to tie the rest together.
- Smen: Smen is a clarified butter similar to Ghee, except that it happens to be fermented. You could make this yourself if you so choose, or buy it here.
- Ras el Hanout: Ras el Hanout is a blend of spices that takes its name from an Arabic phrase that can be loosely translated as “top of the shop”–meaning the very best a spice merchant has to offer. While you could make this blend on your own, it may be more feasible to purchase it (it can contain anywhere from 12-50 spices).
- Preserved Lemons: These are an absolute must.. As well as a test of patience. If you agree that patience is a virtue, give making these yourself a try. If not so much, you can purchase them here.
Using: Tagines and other clay cookware (like La Chamba or Sand Pots) may crack if subjected to rapid changes in temperature. You can easily avoid this by not adding cold foods or liquids to a hot tagine (or vice versa), and by not placing a hot tagine on a cold surface (or vice versa). Just think of it like switching between a Jacuzzi and a Swimming Pool.. Not pleasant!
Care: If new, hand wash your tagine with very mild soap, baking soda or vinegar, and rinse well. Leave the tagine to dry thoroughly, and then lightly coat the interior of the lid and base with olive oil before storing.
- It’s a good idea to store your tagine with the lid slightly ajar so that air can circulate. I find that glazed ceramic tagines have a tendency to mold, and this will help prevent that. If the interior does develop a little mold, simply wash the tagine and lightly coat it with olive oil before using.
And thats all! I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post as much as i have making it. Let me know if you give any of these dishes a try, or have any questions! I would be more than happy to answer. 🙂