Lamb with Apricots, Almonds & Mint.
travelogues of the 1940s and 1950s were inevitably titled
"Morocco: Land of Mystery" or "The Riddle of
surely you can learn all you need to know about any country
just by cooking and eating its food.
Moroccan food is cooked slowly, methodically ó even
thoughtfully. The flavors have a long time to build and meld
and blend together until they become a singular taste; you
can no longer distinguish the individual ingredients.
is an art to making many of the classic Moroccan dishes,
almost a ritual. Couscous ó the tiny pasta that acts like
a grain ó is perhaps the defining dish of the country,
where it is eaten every day. It is prepared with much effort
in a special pot called a couscoussier and is steamed three
times before serving.
mint tea is also something of a ritual ó there is more to
this sweet, minty tea than mere tea. For Moroccans, the tea
takes on extra significance when it is shared with others;
the cup of tea becomes imbued with all of the culturally
critical aspects of hospitality.
nothing else, Moroccan mint tea tells us one thing about the
country and its inhabitants: They like their tea sweet.
Very, very sweet.
a culinary tour of Morocco by cooking five classic dishes.
One taste of each is all you need to know why Moroccan food
is considered one of the most popular cuisines in the world.
began with perhaps the most iconic of the countryís many
iconic dishes, Couscous with Seven Vegetables. In many
homes, it is served every Friday. I made mine with stewing
beef, but you could also use lamb or just keep it
like complexly flavored food, youíre going to want to make
that flavor does not just come from the seven vegetables of
the name (carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, zucchini,
cabbage, squash and chile pepper, or any substitutions you
want to make). Much of the amazing taste comes from the
irresistible combination of spices that give the dish its
punch: ginger, turmeric, parsley, cilantro and saffron.
mix those ingredients together with some beef, onion, tomato
and water, you end up with a powerfully spiced ó but not
hot ó broth that will gladden your soul.
donít worry about the ritual of steaming the couscous
three times. Iím sure that tastes amazing, but I just used
the instant stuff from a grocery store, and it was great.
delightful contrast, I next went with something bright and
light, a Moroccan Orange Salad.
dish is deceptively entrancing; easy to make, yet with an
unexpected taste. It is just slices of orange in a lightly
sweet, cinnamon-orange sauce. The sauce is just a bit of
orange juice heated with sugar or honey, cinnamon and orange
blossom water. I didnít have orange blossom water, so I
simply added orange zest to water, which isnít the same
thing but is an adequate substitution.
the oranges are topped with shredded mint and a few chopped
pistachios. Though the dish is made with only a few
ingredients, each one adds its own kick.
went with another traditional offering, a lentil soup called
Harira that is most often served during Ramadan but is also
popular throughout the year.
has everything you would find in most good lentil soups
(onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, cilantro, celery leaves or
celery), plus a couple of curve balls that make it uniquely
for one. The famously expensive spice adds a heavenly,
exotic perfume and flavor, especially when paired with
cinnamon. These two spices are sometimes paired together for
tea, but they are only brought together for lentil soup in
Morocco. The combination can be habit-forming.
great soup needs a great bread, and many different types are
made in Morocco. I baked the most basic, a plain Khobz,
which is made with white flour.
(the word refers to bread that is baked in the oven, as
opposed to on the stove) is a thin, flat bread that is
neither as thin nor as flat as flatbread. It is easy and
relatively quick to make (it only rises once) and has a
simple, uncluttered taste.
might even call it bland, which is fine. Actually, itís
ideal. Khobz is used to sop up spicy sauces; it complements
them, rather than competes with them.
is almost required with one more national dish, the famous
tagine. A tagine is actually the conical-shaped, earthenware
pot that the stew, which is also called tagine, is cooked
in. The shape presumably helps to blend the flavors.
a tagine of Moroccan Lamb with Apricots, Almonds and Mint,
only I didnít use a tagine to cook it in. I have
occasionally thought of buying one but never have because
they cost a lot more than you would think, especially at
those high-priced shopping-mall kitchen stores.
besides, you donít actually need a tagine to cook a tagine.
I made mine in a pot on the stove, and it was spectacular.
can never go wrong with slow-cooked lamb anyway, but this
version has something that makes it special: sweetness.
very sweet or even too sweet, it is just a little sweet from
the dried apricots, a splash of orange juice and a
sprinkling of fresh mint. And a bit of sweetness turns out
to be just the thing to play off of the meaty lamb and the
rich almond sauce.
a hearty dinner you will want to add to your repertoire. And
thereís nothing mysterious about that.
LAMB WITH APRICOTS, ALMONDS AND MINT
pound lean lamb, cubed
and black pepper
tablespoons olive oil
garlic cloves, crushed
zest and juice of 1 orange
ounces dried apricots
tablespoons chopped fresh mint, divided
ounce ground almonds or almond butter
ounce sliced almonds, toasted
broccoli and couscous for serving
Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a
large pot. Add the lamb and cook over medium-high heat for 3
to 4 minutes until evenly browned, stirring often. Transfer
lamb to a plate using a slotted spoon.
Stir the onion and garlic into the pot and cook 5 minutes
until softened. Return the lamb to the pot. Add the stock,
zest and juice, cinnamon and honey, and season with more
salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and
simmer gently for 1 hour.
the apricots and 2 tablespoons of the mint and cook for 30
minutes until the lamb is tender. Stir in the ground almonds
or almond butter to thicken the sauce. Scatter the remaining
1 tablespoon mint and toasted sliced almonds over the top
and serve with couscous and broccoli.
serving: 397 calories; 21 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 71 mg
cholesterol; 28 g protein; 26 g carbohydrate; 19 g sugar; 4
g fiber; 764 mg sodium; 95 mg calcium
WITH SEVEN VEGETABLES
cup olive oil
pound lamb or beef, cut into 11/2- to 2-inch pieces
teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of saffron threads
teaspoon salt, to taste
teaspoon pepper, to taste
(15.5-ounce) can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans),
drained and rinsed
carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch
sweet potatoes, peeled and halved, and each half cut into
2 to 3
turnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
a small cabbage, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
an acorn squash or 3/4 pound of another squash, cut into
pound dry, 5-minute couscous
Feel free to substitute vegetables such as potatoes, celery
root, fava beans or any others of your choice.
Slice tomato in half and grate the pulpy flesh on the large
holes of a grater; discard the skin. Set aside. Tie the
parsley and cilantro together with kitchen twine.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot, and add the
meat, turmeric, ginger, saffron, salt and pepper. Add the
chopped onion, and mix. Brown the meat for a few minutes,
the grated tomato and bundle of parsley and cilantro. Cover
with water. Add the chickpeas. Cover the pot and simmer 30
the carrots, sweet potatoes and turnips. Return to a simmer,
cover and simmer 15 minutes.
zucchini, cabbage, squash and chile pepper. Return to a
simmer, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Test the vegetables (you only need to test one of each
type). If any are not thoroughly tender, remove the cooked
vegetables to a bowl and leave the ones that need more time
in the pot. Cover and simmer until the vegetables and meat
are all done.
Make the couscous according to the package directions, using
1 cup of the broth in the pot along with water to make it.
Return the vegetables and meat to the pot to warm them and
serve over the couscous, with the red pepper on top for a
serving: 416 calories; 7 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 29 mg
cholesterol; 20 g protein; 69 g carbohydrate; 9 g sugar; 10
g fiber; 475 mg sodium; 98 mg calcium
8 to 10 servings
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
large onion, finely diced, about 2 cups
garlic cloves, minced
tablespoon dried ginger
teaspoons black pepper
teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon crumbled saffron
cinnamon stick or
teaspoon ground cinnamon
diced ripe tomato, fresh or canned
tablespoons chopped celery leaves, or 1 tablespoon minced
tablespoons chopped cilantro
brown lentils, rinsed
red lentils, rinsed
canned chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), rinsed
pound angel hair pasta or vermicelli, broken into 1-inch
wedges, for serving
olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over
medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until
softened and lightly colored, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in
garlic, ginger, pepper, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, saffron
and cinnamon. Cook about 2 minutes more.
tomato, celery leaves and cilantro and bring to a brisk
simmer. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes until mixture
somewhat thickens, then add 1 teaspoon salt, the brown
lentils, red lentils and chickpeas. Add 8 cups water. Bring
to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, covered with the
soup simmer for 30 minutes, then taste broth and adjust
salt. Cook for 1 hour more at a gentle simmer, until the
lentils are soft and creamy. It may be necessary to add more
liquid from time to time to keep soup from being too
porridge-like. It should be on the thick side, but with a
pourable consistency. (With every addition of water, taste
and adjust for salt).
Just before serving, add pasta and let cook for 2 to 3
minutes. Ladle soup into small bowls and pass lemon wedges
for squeezing. This soup may be made in advance and
refrigerated. If it thickens, thin with water or broth when
reheating, and adjust the salt.
serving (based on 8): 305 calories; 5 g fat; 1 g saturated
fat; no cholesterol; 17 g protein; 50 g carbohydrate; 7 g
sugar; 15 g fiber; 61 mg sodium; 60 mg calcium
from a recipe by David Tanis in the New York Times
(MOROCCAN WHITE BREAD)
8 servings (2 loaves)
bread or all-purpose flour
teaspoons granulated sugar
tablespoon active dry yeast
tablespoons vegetable oil
cups warm water
Lightly oil 2 baking sheets, or dust them with cornmeal or
semolina, or line them with parchment paper.
the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a large well
in the center of the flour mixture and add the yeast.
the oil and warm water to the well, stirring with your
fingers to dissolve the yeast first, and then stirring the
entire contents of the bowl to incorporate the water into
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading
the dough, or use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. If
necessary, add flour or water in very small amounts to make
the dough soft and pliable but not sticky. Continue kneading
for 10 minutes by hand (or 5 minutes by machine), until the
dough is very smooth and elastic.
Divide the dough in half and shape each portion into a small
circular mound. Place the dough onto the prepared pans,
cover with a towel and allow it to rest for 10 to 15
After the dough has rested, use the palm of your hand to
flatten the dough into circles about 1/4-inch thick. Cover
with a towel and let rise about 1 hour (longer in a cold
room), or until the dough springs back when pressed lightly
with a finger.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Create steam vents by scoring the top of the bread with a
very sharp knife (it will work better if you first spray the
blade with nonstick spray) or by poking the dough with a
fork in several places. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating
the pans about halfway through, or until the loaves are
nicely colored and sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a rack
or a towel-lined basket. This bread is best frozen if not
consumed the same day.
serving: 267 calories; 4 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; no
cholesterol; 7 g protein; 49 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; 2 g
fiber; 583 mg sodium; 10 mg calcium
by Christine Benlafquih in thespruceeats.com
4 to 6 servings
large, juicy oranges (or grapefruits or tangerines)
teaspoons granulated sugar or honey
teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3
tablespoons orange blossom water, or zest from 1 orange
fresh mint leaves
tablespoons pistachios, roughly chopped
Slice off the very top and bottom of each orange, just
enough to expose the flesh. Remove all of the peel and pith
by strips, top to bottom, using the blade of your knife to
cut away as little of the juicy flesh as possible. Trim any
small bits of pith you missed, and pour the juices that
collect on the cutting board into a small saucepan.
the oranges horizontally to form thin slices, about 1/4-inch
thick. Arrange in an overlapping pattern on a serving
the sugar and cinnamon to the pan. If using orange zest
instead of orange blossom water, add it to the pan, along
with 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer, stirring to
dissolve the sugar. Stir in the orange blossom water, if
using, and pour over the orange slices. Cover and
refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Stack the mint leaves together, roll tightly and thinly
slice crosswise. Scatter the mint and pistachios over the
oranges, and serve.
serving (based on 4): 129 calories; 3 g fat; no saturated
fat; no cholesterol; 3 g protein; 26 g carbohydrate; 20 g
sugar; 5 g fiber; no sodium; 83 mg calcium
analysis used unsalted pistachios.
from "Tasting Paris," by Clotilde Dusoulier