Also, I have an eggplant.
April 11, 2011 8:22 AM   Subscribe

What can you tell me about Moroccan/north African cooking? Got any recipes?

I'm interested in exploring. I own preserved lemon and harissa. What do I do with them?

I realize that the geographic area might have as many micro-cuisines as Italy, so I'd be interested in dishes that are representative of different local styles and that you think are particularly good, as well as unusual stuff you can do with those ingredients. I also have on hand: mint, cilantro, saffron, tofu. I don't have couscous on hand.

I'd like to lean toward vegetarian or recipes I could make vegetarian, but I wouldn't exclude chicken or beef.

Also, I have an eggplant.
posted by A Terrible Llama to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't pretend to know the first thing about North African cooking, but I recently made this "Moroccan" carrot soup and it was goddammed delicious.
posted by saladin at 8:29 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant is devoted to regional vegetarian cooking, and they have a chapter of recipies from this very area. I've only skipped through it, but the book on the whole does a good job of helping people unfamiliar with a cuisine try it out.

I tend to think of tajines for Morocco, which is a sort of stew-y sort of thing that you could serve over couscous (if you get some) or rice (if you don't). Here's a recipe for a pretty simple-looking tajine that uses chicken and preserved lemon, and there are other Moroccan recipes on that site.

As for "other things to do with preserved lemon" - I sometimes use it as a flavoring for roasted chicken and potatoes (cut up some potatoes into chunks, toss them in olive oil, lay them in a roasting pan, tuck a couple pieces of preserved lemon between them, and lay cut-up chicken parts on top -- pour about a half cup of water in the pan and then roast the whole thing in your oven until the chicken's done). I've also used the preserved lemon for broiled fish filets -- just mush the pieces up and smear over the top of the fish filet and then broil.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 AM on April 11, 2011

I make Harira all the time and love it. I wish I had a couscoussier so I could make the dish properly and that reminds me that I need a tagine as well.

I fell in love with north African food after a visit to Morocco and I think that once you get past the over-powering cumin, you'll really get into it. I know that it's sometimes hard to get a good book on a particular cooking genre that isn't skewed towards the authors' tastes, so what I'll do is try and recreate dishes from menus and use the Youtubes and blogs.

Also, I don't like pigeon pie.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:41 AM on April 11, 2011

This thread from chowhound gives some good recommendations. I hear consistently great thing about Claudia Roden and Paula Wolfert's books.
posted by purenitrous at 8:44 AM on April 11, 2011

The only North African food I eat in any regularity is falafel. They are 100 per cent vegetarian, completely ubiquitous, and as versatile as a berger to an American. I don't have any particular recipes to share, but just google the term and see what pops up. My favourite way to eat them is hot, in a pita, with some homous, chilli sauce and salad. Amazing :)
posted by londonmark at 8:44 AM on April 11, 2011

Eek, I misspelled burger...
posted by londonmark at 8:45 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ras el hanout is an amazingly delicious spice blend. It's a must in any kitchen. I make up my own batch about once a month.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:51 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, if you do make it fresh, make sure to grind your ingredients rather than using powders. The taste difference is huge.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:53 AM on April 11, 2011

Are you interested in a cookbook? Try Saffron Shores by Joyce Goldstein. Recipes are from Jewish communities of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
posted by expialidocious at 9:24 AM on April 11, 2011

Try a tagine recipe. Link goes to a search page, since I'm at work and my cookbooks are home. I got this little gem for Christmas one year and it has some great recipes. And just to clarify, you can make any tagine recipe in a big covered pot on the stove or in the oven as long as you can control the heat. You don't need an actual tagine (a clay pot), although they are cool.
posted by elendil71 at 9:34 AM on April 11, 2011

Vegetarian bastilla.
posted by Morrigan at 9:58 AM on April 11, 2011

This recipe most closely approximates the tagine I had while traveling in Morocco. Try that one, for starters (you can use a heavy lidded pot if you don't have a tagine).
posted by booknerd at 10:14 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The stand-by Moroccan dish in my house is a carrot salad is simple and delicious:
2 lbs carrots, peeled or scrubbed, cut 1/2 inch thick, on the bias. Steam until cooked bit still firm.

In a food processor, combine
1 bunch of cilantro (probably 2 cups if packed tightly, and keep the stems on, they taste good too)
3 cloves garlic
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika (sweet or hot, smoked is best)
salt to taste.

Grind this to a paste in the food processor (a stick blender works great too), and toss the carrots in it (while still a bit warm), then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:39 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

This recipe won't use any of your ingredients, but it's amazing and I think everyone should try it.

I had some fenugreek and ajowan from Penzey's I wanted to crack into, so I made Berbere Roasted Chicken from this book. (The recipe is also visible on the the Amazon preview.) It was delicious, and the aroma while it roasts is gorgeous. I blended two different recipes I found on the internet for the Berbere spices, and came up with this:

about 4-5 Tbsp combined from sweet paprika, smoked hot paprika, cayenne, dark chili powder or use some whole dried chili pods, most of the seeds removed.
4 white or green cardamoms pods
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (substitute with 1/2 tsp mustard seeds if you don't have this)
6 whole cloves
1/2 tsp allspice berries
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp ajowan seeds (substitute with 1 tsp thyme if you don't have this)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp salt
1/8 tsp tumeric
1/8 tsp cinnamon
(spices should be adjusted for taste)

Prep a whole chicken for roasting.

Cut 1 large or 2 smaller onions into 1/2" rings, place in a shallow roasting pan. I used a large cast iron pan.

Lightly toast the spices, remove cardamom seeds from the pods. In blender, blend spices with a mix of olive oil and water, 3-4 cloves of garlic, 2 shallots to make a thick paste. Stir in zest from 3 lemons, and juice from one of them.

Stick your fingers between the skin and breast meat of the chicken to make a pocket. Put a heaping tablespoonful of the paste under each side and spread it all around, crooking your finger to reach the thigh area. Spread a couple more spoonfuls on the back and over the top. I cut up one of the zested lemons and put it inside, trust the legs. Then place the chicken on top of the onions and roast at 425 for 30 minutes, then at 350 till the chicken is done. Let the chicken rest, spoon juices over the top. The flavor is fantastic, especially if you combine bites of chicken with the sweet carmelized onion. Serious omg.
posted by tula at 11:31 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Check out Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food. It is excellent and runs the gamut of Middle Eastern cuisine from North African to Egyptian to Turkish. As well, it's filled with lots of interesting history and stories.
posted by pravit at 3:23 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For regional vegetarian food from Morrocco I'd point you towards a Berber tagine, find a recipe you like the look of and go wild. Seemed to be a southeastern dish when we were there but these days all the major tagine styles are found pretty much everywhere. Its a flexible dish, substitute away if you need to; you'll find some recipes with lamb but I've seen plenty of veggie versions.

Get a decent Ras al Hanout if you can find some, love the stuff. Use it instead of/in addition to whatever spices your recipe specifies.

With preserved lemons on hand you really need to make a Chicken with Lemon and Olives tagine. Found everywhere in Morrocco, one of the handful of dishes you'll find on any menu all over the country. Grab some nice bread for dipping and you're set.
posted by N-stoff at 4:10 PM on April 11, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I marked the ones I think I'm initially going to make but look forward to exploring the rest and the cookbooks.

BTW this harissa is awesome. It's hot chiles, bell pepper, preserved lemons and a bunch of other things, so it's like this very hot, citrusy relish. I've used it before but it came in a tube and was more like paste, more grainy.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:44 AM on April 12, 2011

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