The gold of arganeraie 33 Moroccan recipes based on argan oil By Michela Lenta In collaboration with Simone Beccaria, Serena Milano, Bianca Minerdo Edited by Grazia Novellini Illustrations, layout and design Mauro Olocco Printed by La Stamperia – Carrù (Cn) For the help in compiling this book, the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity would like to thank Suad Aghla Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi Touria Laassouli Gad Azran Choumicha Acharki Meryam Cherkaoui Khaltuma Zitouni 02/2008 – On recycled paper (Cyclus Offset) 2 This recipe book has been produced thanks to the support and collaboration of: 3 contents couscous soups tajine meat dishes 4 18 Couscous / Choumicha Acharki 18 Couscous and milk / Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi 19 Couscous with vegetables and meat / Suad Aghla 20 Couscous with eggs and onions / Suad Aghla 22 Smooth mushroom soup with brick stuffed of dried meat and onions/ 23 Pigeon soup / Choumicha Acharki 24 Orkimen soup / Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi 26 Meat and vegetable tajine / Khaltuma Zitouni 27 Tajine of kid with zucchini and pinenuts / Gad Azran 28 Beef tajine / Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi 28 Chicken and pumpkin tajine / Choumicha Acharki 31 Roast kebabs / Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi 31 Chicken and pumpkin / Choumicha Acharki 32 Taachat / Choumicha Acharki Meryam Cherkaoui fish dishes 33 Bouzruk / Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi 34 Scallop carpaccio with topinambur purée and beetroot chantilly / Meryam Cherkaoui 35 Crunchy asparagus and seabass / Gad Azran sauces 36 Chermoula / Choumicha Acharki 36 Spicy vinaigrette / Meryam Cherkaoui salads 38 Carrot and banana salad / Choumicha Acharki 38 Sweet potato salad / Choumicha Acharki 39 Semolina and pomegranate salad / Choumicha Acharki 39 Granada salad / Choumicha Acharki desserts 41 Amlou / Choumicha Acharki 41 Bsis / Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi 42 Sweet couscous 43 Seffa couscous with exotic fruits Gad Azran / Gad Azran 43 Seffa couscous with almonds / Choumicha Acharki 44 Dates filled with cheese and walnuts / Choumicha Acharki 44 Ishfanj / Touria Laassouli 44 Chocolate zabaglione / Meryam Cherkaoui 45 Amlou ice cream / Meryam Cherkaoui 45 Vanilla caramel / Meryam Cherkaoui 45 Dacquoise / Meryam Cherkaoui 5 Piedmont Region for Moroccan women In supporting the Slow Food Foundation’s project, the Piedmont Regional Authority aims to promote a number of women’s cooperatives producing argan oil in the Moroccan provinces of Agadir, Taroudant, Chtouka, Tiznit and Ait Baha. Argan is an endemic shrub which only exists on the southern coast of Morocco, whose berries provide an oil similar to olive oil but with a delicate almond flavor. It has always been a basic part of the cuisine of the Berbers, a nomadic people already present in North Africa before Arab settlement. Appreciating this product and using it through these recipes not only enables us to better value and understand Moroccan culture. It also helps development efforts for a group of women living in a challenging area of this magnificent country. Supporting argan oil and its many uses – from cuisine to cosmetics and natural medicine – has the added benefit of maintaining an ancient, mainly female tradition which has been handed down from mother to daughter through age – old rituals. We hope that the results achieved through our support to date can boost cooperative relations between Piedmont and Morocco and be the basis for greater mutual social and cultural understanding. In contributing to the defense and promotion of local food traditions, this initiative will also be an important factor in developing the economy of the area. Mercedes Bresso President of the Piedmont Regional Authority 6 Argan oil – all the implications of biodiversity Argan oil, a Presidium since 2002, is one of the first non-European products Slow Food focused its efforts on. As far back as 2001, a producer cooperative received the Slow Food Award for the Defense of Biodiversity, before the oil became the subject of international attention and the number of argan oil producing companies proliferated. It was a far-sighted and perceptive decision to make the award to the argan producers. Not only did it accurately see the social value of their work and the positive effects that could flow to the whole region, but it also recognized the product’s incredible potential. Argan oil has outstanding biochemical properties, which have been comprehensively studied by Professor Zoubida Charrouf, a partner of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in this project, and the driving force in setting up the first women's cooperative. These properties make it valuable in cosmetics and a unique ingredient in cooking, as illustrated by the recipes contained in this book. But it is in particular a strong symbol of identity for the Berber people of Morocco. Ensuring that production is maintained means guaranteeing the survival of traditions, stories and practices that unquestionably benefit the rich heritage and cultural plurality of the country. Furthermore, protecting the argan forest is the only way of maintaining a natural barrier that is adapted to the environment and an economic asset, to oppose the steadily encroaching desert. It is disturbing to see small sand dunes taking over from aquifers which have dried out due to bores being drilled for irrigation in areas deforested to make way for glasshouses containing citrus fruit, bananas and vegetables. The artisan production of oil also allows groups of women from remote villages to organize themselves into groups, access world markets and see their work fairly rewarded. Ensuring fair remuneration is a key aspect of this project, promoted by Slow Food and its partners and funded by the Piedmont Regional Authority. The Presidium aims to produce high-quality oil which meets proper food hygiene standards, will not deteriorate and is the result of a production chain controlled at all stages—from harvesting to pressing and pay for the women—in opposition to various attempts at adulteration and imitation. Argan is now in the international spotlight, demand is increasing and the immediate risk of extinction has probably been averted, but efforts have only just begun. The project needs to be supervised and the work of these women encouraged and supported so they are not exploited by unscrupulous operators or pressured to sacrifice quality for quantity. It is a particularly delicate production process, combining a unique tree, the argan, with uniquely valuable environmental features. It would be unforgivable to think of it just as a resource to exploit and not as part of a system which must be preserved. Piero Sardo President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity 7 The Ibn Al Baytar association The Ibn Al Baytar association for the promotion of medicinal plants was created through the efforts of Zoubida Charrouf, Lecturer in Chemistry at the Chemical Laboratory for Plants and Organic and Biorganic Synthesis at the Faculty of Science of Mohammed V University in Rabat. We asked Madame Charrouf to tell us about the creation and objectives of the association she founded and is President of, and to describe the characteristics of argan. The name of the Ibn Al Baytar association derives from one of the most illustrious botanists of the 13th century: he was the first scholar in history to write a monograph on the argan tree and its oil. The organization’s objectives and priorities are: - to promote and conserve Moroccan medicinal plants; - to set up projects for medicinal plants; - to promote the integration and development of rural women; - make people aware of the need to conserve plants at risk of extinction. In addition to research activity, the Rabat University Faculty of Science and the Ibn Al Baytar association set up the network of the first cooperatives producing argan oil. This initiative was proposed so the scientific research could be followed with work to help the sociocultural development of the women producing argan oil. This was achieved by creating cooperatives of women with different origins, social and cultural backgrounds, but sharing the same geographical area and a connection 8 with the argan forest. Initial work focused on creating awareness, providing information and educating people about the value of the natural heritage argan forest and the need to defend it. It was necessary to teach them how to organize artisan production of argan oil, to commercialize the product, improve its use and consider the effects on members of the cooperative. Carrying out this work involved the association in other activities which brought about improvements in the lives of these women, their families and their villages. The collaborative venture with Slow Food and subsequently, with the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, consolidated the process. The project started in 2001, when I presented the Amal Cooperative project (Tamanar, province of Essaouira) and it won the Slow Food Award for the Defense of Biodiversity. From that moment on, with the creation of the Argan Oil Presidium, there was continual promotional activity, improvements to product quality and social conditions through participation in Slow Food’s main events (Terra Madre, Salone del Gusto, Origines). The opportunity to play an active role in these big events enabled the Presidium to develop, grow and learn. For example, the meeting with Coldiretti, the Italian National Farmers’ Federation, provided valuable advice about ecotourism, and the visits made to the Presidium by Italian experts in extravirgin olive oil, accompanied by staff responsible for the project from the Slow Food The argan tree Foundation for Biodiversity, were essential in achieving technical and production improvements to the argan oil project. To sum up, the results achieved by the Ibn Al Baytar association, in collaboration with others involved in the project are: - most of those working on the argan project, including donors of funds, are active participants in the movement; - scientific information has been obtained which enables the propagation and regeneration of the argan tree and the production of quality oil; - a worldwide market with high demand for argan products has been created and the returns for the women producers have improved; - the women producers are coordinated through numerous cooperatives and membership in various groups. Their sociocultural status has significantly improved, enabling them to boost their living conditions and better contribute to the functioning of the cooperatives, the lives of their families and villages, at local and regional level; - a training system has been set up at all levels to provide the necessary skills throughout the production chain; - numerous jobs have been created; - the rate of planting of argan trees has been significantly increased. The argan (Argania spinosa [L.] Skeels) is an endemic tree in Morocco, the second most important one in the country after the holm oak and ahead of the thuja. It can live up to 200 years. The argan forest extends for about 750 000 hectares, enclosed in a triangle between the towns of Essaouira, Agadir and Taroudant. The tree is in the Sapotaceae family and is particularly resistant to the prevailing climatic conditions of drought and heat in this region. It can withstand temperatures ranging from 3°C to 50°C and needs very little rain: in fact it dates back to the Tertiary Age and this has probably enabled it to adapt to very poor soils and harsh conditions. The argan grows spontaneously and abundantly in the arid and semi-arid areas of south-west Morocco, where it plays a vital role in maintaining ecological equilibrium and protecting biodiversity. Furthermore, its strong root system contributes to soil stability, resisting water and wind erosion, two of the main causes of desertification in the region. It is utilized in many different ways and all parts of the tree can be used as a nutritional and economic resource. About 3 million people depend on the argan forest for subsistence, 2.2 million of them small farmers, and it plays a major socioeconomic and environmental role in these geographical areas. The various products obtained from argan account for 20 million working days, with 7.5 million of them being work by women to extract oil. The applicable legislation (Dahir or Decree of March 4, 1925 and regulations governing agricultural practices involving the argan tree of July 20, 1983) make it a state-owned forest with 9 Argan oil extensive usage rights for local people, from the right to gather food and wood for domestic use to the right of free passage and access. A victim of its wealth, the argan forest is now in a vulnerable state due to climate change and the development of new agricultural approaches. Exploitation of the land, erosion, the advancing desert, removal of trees (uprooting, felling) and their replacement by intensively cultivated crops are attacking this unique heritage. In less than a century, more than half the forest has disappeared and its average density has fallen from 100 to 30 trees per hectare. However, the importance of protecting the argan forest has not escaped the attention of local and international authorities. Many initiatives have been organized to protect it, develop it and in particular, prevent its further regression, and in 1998 UNESCO and the Moroccan state nominated it as a Biosphere Reserve. In order to reverse current trends, the Moroccan government, some countries and many NGOs (including the Ibn Al Baytar association) are involved in a study program to examine ecological and economic issues affecting argan and the argan forest. 10 Argan oil is the main product of the argan tree. It is a food and dietary oil whose many benefits make it a valued substance in traditional medicine. Oil is extracted following ancestral methods kept by native women and handed down from generation to generation over many centuries. A mechanized method has been developed recently which allows production of oil meeting higher hygienic and sanitary standards, with easier working conditions for the women who extract the oil. “Two drops of argan oil will enhance any dish” proudly states Gad Azran, a Casablanca chef of Jewish – Moroccan origin. The precious rare substance is constantly used in Berber cuisine, often served as a condiment with a range of dishes – salads, couscous, tajines, meat and fish recipes and also desserts. It is used instead of olive oil in many recipes: a traditional snack is argan oil with bread, which is not only served at home but also in restaurants and cafes. This “green gold” can also be savored in amlou, a dessert made from roasted almonds and honey. It is inconceivable to cook fish or meat without first soaking or seasoning it with argan oil. Vegetable dips often contain argan oil, which is supposed to be used uncooked but in some Berber recipes is heated. Two tablespoons of the oil with a tablespoon of water allow you to brown onions and prepare a sautéed mixture for a classic tajine. It should not be used to excess: adding moderate amounts allows the full flavors and aromas of the original recipe to emerge. The chemical constitution of argan oil is mainly oleic acid (45%) and linoleic acid (35%). These fatty acids give the oil nutritional and dietary benefits for treating cardiovascular diseases and problems with dry or aging skin. Apart from its high fatty acid content, the oil also has appreciable amounts of biologically active compounds, particularly antioxidants and phytosterols. Argan possesses a range of medical benefits: - dermatological: it has nutritional and moisturizing properties and stimulates skin regeneration. The oil is also used to treat hair, scalp, dry skin and wrinkles. It is recommended for treating epidermal irritations, eczema, burns, cellulitis and chapped skin; - cardiovascular: clinical tests have shown that taking argan oil lowers the level of blood cholesterol (LDLs) and triglycerides and increases the level of “good” cholesterol (HDLs). It also prevents arteriosclerosis; - it has additional uses in traditional medicine: argan oil can be used to treat acne in young people, chickenpox, and to soothe rheumatism and joint pain. Due to its deep-rooted association with south-west Morocco, argan oil could gain recognition as a Protected Designation of Origin product in Morocco and worldwide, securing intellectual property rights based on its geographical origins. This recognition would enable argan and the women producing the oil to be protected against any misuse of the name argan, food adulteration and unfair competition. Protection of argan oil within the PDO system would mean: - the name argan oil or argan would exclusively apply to products from south–west Morocco processed using specific methods; - rational organization of the production chain; - recognition and promotion of rural areas where the oil is produced (added value for goods sold, sharing of economic benefits among producers, exports, cooperative organizations etc.); - new prospects for developing tourist activities in this area (tastings, tours, hospitality and food etc). 11 The argan oil Presidium Area of production Provinces of Agadir, Taroudant, Ait Baha, Chtouka and Tiznit – Morocco Presidium contact Zoubida Charrouf Tel. +212 37682848 [email protected] Presidium supported by Piedmont Regional Authority 12 The argan oil Presidium was created in 2002. Since then a number of activities have been developed through the efforts of Zoubida Charrouf, local producers and the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. The cooperatives have been visited by various Italian oil producers and tasters: Franco Boeri (producer of Ligurian extravirgin olive oil), Giuseppe Matticari (owner of the company Organic Oils), Mario Renna (technical expert in oil products), Diego Soracco (editor of the guides to extravirgin oil published by Slow Food Editore). This exchange of knowledge has enabled the Presidium to make significant progress in improving product quality and packaging. A draft set of production rules has been drawn up with various objectives: it aims to guarantee product authenticity and quality, safeguard the women’s work, conserve the arganeraie (forest of argan trees), thereby protecting the land from the advancing desert. Between 2002 and 2008 the wholesale price has risen from 15 to 20 per liter and the retail price from €30 to 40 (it takes 50 kilos of berries and 20 hours of work to produce half a liter of oil). But economic data are not the most significant aspect of the project. What has really changed in recent years is the social role of the cooperatives and the women. Harvesting the berries, breaking the shells and extracting the oil are above all an opportunity for social interaction: the women get together, attend courses, learn to read and write. They make bread and craft products together. Some Presidium coordinators have begun to travel, presenting the product in Paris, Monaco, Montpellier, Bilbao, Turin, and Caltanissetta, meeting distributors, restaurateurs and other producers. The Presidium now communicates with numerous institutions, such as universities, chambers of commerce and ministries. The international press has written articles about their situation and photographers, journalists, TV crew, university students and tourists have come to Morocco to visit the cooperatives and learn more. With the help of two projects funded by the Piedmont Regional Authority between 2005 and 2008, technical experts have been sent to improve the production process and training courses have been organized for the women. As part of the project, the Piedmont section of the Italian Federation of Farmers is helping the Moroccan women to develop agritourism ventures and sustainable tourism: Pierangelo Cena, President of Terranostra Torino (an association for agritourism, the environment and land) visited Morocco to analyze the local possibilities and representatives of the Presidium had work experience and training at Piedmontese agritourism operations. In recent years the argan oil Presidium has been the subject of several degree theses, articles, film documentaries, features, and not least, this cookbook. All these activities have been made possible thanks to significant financial, professional and voluntary support, coordinated by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. 13 Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity Slow Food has created the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity to organize and fund projects that defend our world's agricultural biodiversity. The Foundation works to promote sustainable agriculture that respects the environment, the cultural identity of local people, and promotes animal well-being. The Foundation believes in the rights of single communities to determine what they will cultivate, produce, and eat. Founded in 2003 with the support of the Region of Tuscany, the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity organizes and funds projects that defend our world’s heritage of agricultural biodiversity and gastronomic traditions: the Ark of Taste, the Presidia and the Mercati della Terra. These projects are being developed on all five continents, in over 50 countries (from Switzerland to Guatemala), but the most significant economic contribution occurs in the world's less-developed nations. The principal project of the Foundation, from an economic and organizational point of view, is that of the Presidia. There are now over 280 presidia in 37 countries, which were created to protect small producers and to preserve the quality of artisanal products. Thanks to the initiatives of Slow Food’s network of members, leaders, researchers, writers, chefs and producers, the Foundation is able to help improve production techniques, come up with new products or new ways to use products and find local and international markets for then. The Foundation’s second important project is the Ark of Taste, the catalogue of quality food products that are at risk of extinction. Through the research of experts from all over the world who are integral to our 18 national commissions, over 700 products in 50 countries have been chosen for the Ark. The Slow Food Foundation also promotes the exchange of information and knowledge between members of different food communities through participation in Terra Madre. Terra Madre is an event held in Turin every two years and is attended by 5,000 producers from 130 countries. The last challenge for the Slow Food Foundation is to reduce the number of intermediaries between producers and distributors, which will lessen the distance food travels from field to table. The Foundation especially favors the development, diffusion and enforcement of the relationships between the farmers’ markets of the world. www.slowfoodfoundation.com 14 15 couscous 16 The word kuskus (couscous in French and English) is used to both describe a variety of durum wheat semolina obtained after various phases of processing, and also the many recipes – with sweet or savory seasoning, with meat, fish or vegetables – which are based on it. With the spread of ethnic cuisines, people in Europe have become familiar with this product. It is frequently offered on restaurant menus and is readily available on the market, often in canned semi-processed form. In the past, however, couscous was only known and cooked in a few coastal areas of Italy and Spain. Here they were more accustomed to foreign practices than elsewhere, or were more likely to have adopted them due to historical circumstances. They assimilated them into their own customs, and reinterpreted them in local fashion. With the continuous flow of commercial and cultural influences from the Maghreb and Near East, couscous has for a long time been a popular dish in Sardinia (where it is generally called cascà), on the Livorno coast, in the north west corner of Sicily (cùscusu) and in the old kingdom of Al Andalus, in Spain. But the exact chronological and geographical origins of this food, associated with the Arab world, are uncertain. One of the first references to a dish based on a starchy food similar to couscous appears in an anonymous Hispano-Muslim text dating back to the 13th century, where a recipe is described as well-known throughout the world. In addition to other recipes of related origin, a similar food is cited as noble in a poem by the qadi (magistrate) of Granada, Abu ’Abd Allaah bin Al-Azrak, confirming its spread among the aristocratic classes. But attributing its invention to the Arab communities in Spain does not seem a persuasive argument since, as is frequently the case, the written documents are not a proof of actual origin. The documents merely indicate that in the 13th century the product had traveled beyond its national boundaries. As far as etymology is concerned, the word is probably linked to the Berber k’seksu (hence Arabic kaskasa, “to reduce to powder, to pound”), and would suggest a Maghreb origin to preparation of the food. This origin seems to be confirmed by the fact that in Eastern Arab regions a type of couscous is called maghribbiyya (product of the Maghreb). Apart from linguistic associations, there is also archeological evidence: in the Medieval layer of the Algerian city of Chellala, vessels of uncertain date have been found which strongly resemble present day couscous pots. In the past couscous was, and is still today, one of the basic Maghreb foods both for daily family consumption and for religious use. For example, it was distributed as an offering to the poor for sadaqa (charity) and considered a part of baraka (divine benediction): while preparing the food women had to recite incantations to drive away evil omens. When preparing couscous it is necessary to follow the traditions and use suitable utensils. The first thing needed is a large terracotta container where the semolina is washed by hand until it forms grains. The second is the traditional couscous pot, composed of two stacked containers: the lower one holds water with seasoning or stock to boil with meat and vegetables; the upper one, with a perforated bottom, holds the semolina which is slowly cooked in the steam. 17 18 Couscous Couscous and milk Choumicha Acharki Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi For 8 people For 4 people 1 kg durum wheat semolina, a handful of wheat flour 200 ml extravirgin olive oil 1 teaspoon salt 400 g cooked couscous 1⁄2 liter milk 4 teaspoons argan oil Preparation and cooking time: 1 1⁄2 hours, plus standing time Preparation time: 5 minutes Put the semolina on a large plate and sprinkle with a glass of salt water. Mix by hand to moisten all the couscous grains and separate them. Cover with a clean cloth and allow the couscous to stand for a few minutes so it can absorb the water. Fill the pan half full with water and bring to the boil. Grease the upper part of the couscous pot with oil and add the couscous to it. Seal the top of the pot with a cloth impregnated with flour and water to prevent steam escaping from the sides. When the steam has passed through the couscous several times, remove it and transfer into a large container. Add oil and another glass of water. Separate the grains of semolina by hand. Leave to stand for a few minutes until the couscous has absorbed all the water . Repeat this operation twice until the couscous swells and is well cooked. The couscous is left to stand for about three hours and then used according to the desired recipe. Add the argan oil and cold milk to the couscous prepared by the traditional method described above. Mix and serve in bowls. This recipe is used for children’s snacks. Couscous with vegetables and meat Suad Aghla For 6-8 people 1 kg small grain couscous 1 kg stewing veal 150 g carrots, 150 g tomatoes, 150 g leeks, 150 g turnips, 100 g onions 2 small cups argan oil 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1⁄2 teaspoon ginger Preparation and cooking time: for the couscous, 1 1⁄4 hours, plus standing time; for the seasoning, 1 1⁄4 hours Use the meat to prepare the stock for steaming the couscous. Put the semolina to cook in the top part of the couscous pot. The top part of the pot has a perforated base and the bottom part holds the seasoning. Put a large wide dish on the table. Tip the couscous (already cooked for a while) onto it and mix by hand as though kneading. Do this twice more and the third time add a small cup of argan oil and a pinch of salt. Put the pieces of meat in the bottom of the couscous pot. Add finely sliced onions, the rest of the salt, the pepper and the ginger. Pour in part of the stock and add the carrots, tomatoes, turnips and leeks, which were earlier cleaned and chopped. When cooking has finished add the other small cup of argan oil. When everything is cooked (the couscous cooks in the steam of the stock) put the couscous in a large serving platter with seasoning in the center. Soak with the remaining stock and serve. This dish is cooked on Friday, the Muslim day of collective prayer (juma’a): it is eaten for lunch after returning from the mosque. 19 Couscous with eggs and onions Suad Aghla For 4 people 1⁄2 kg large grain couscous 3 eggs 3 onions 1 handful green olives 2 small cups argan oil a pinch of salt, a pinch of coriander Preparation and cooking time: for the couscous, 1 1⁄2 hours, plus standing time; for the seasoning, 1 1⁄4 hours Hard boil the eggs. Mix the couscous with cold water on the plate and place in the couscous pot. When it is half cooked, pour onto a large terracotta dish and mix by hand a first time, adding a pinch of salt and a small cup of argan oil. Repeat the process a second time and when cooked, a third time, adding the other small cup of argan oil, the hard-boiled eggs cut into rounds, the olives and the onions, which were previously boiled in the bottom part of the couscous pot with water and salt. The dish is eaten with laban, the typical thick Lebanese yoghurt, whose name means “white”. It has a sourish flavor and is often consumed with added salt. It accompanies many distinctive dishes such as couscous or meat and vegetable dishes. 20 soups 21 Smooth mushroom soup with brick stuffed of dried meat and onions Meryam Cherkaoui For 4 people Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour 1 kg cep mushrooms (Porcini) 1 sheet malsouka brik pastry (filo or puff pastry) 150 g onions 250 g parsley 1 sprig thyme 1 sheet gelatin vegetable stock 1 egg yolk 60 g khlii (or thick sliced raw ham) 1⁄4 liter cooking cream 35 g butter 1⁄2 liter peanut oil, 2 tablespoons argan oil coarse and fine salt, pepper 22 Brik pastry is a light pastry used in Arab and North African cuisine for both savory recipes (made with meat, vegetables, tuna etc) and sweet ones. You can prepare it using the recipe on p. 35 or replace it with filo or a normal rolled pastry. Khlii is a method of preserving meat, usually lamb. After seasoning with garlic, spices, oil, vinegar and salt, Moroccan women hang it for up to seven days in the sun to dry. They then cook it for about two hours in lamb fat and water until the water has all evaporated. If dry meat is not available, you can use thickly sliced raw ham. Cook the onions and thyme in 10 grams of butter for a few minutes on low heat. Add the mushrooms and brown them well. Moisten with the vegetable stock, season and cook for 20 minutes. Blanch the parsley in salt water. Cool with ice and blend to a purée in a mixer. Combine the gelatin sheet with the parsley. Moisten in cold water, transfer into glasses and allow to stand. Cut the pastry sheet into 5 cm squares, place some of the onions and khlii on top and fold to form a triangle. When the soup has cooked, blend in the mixer and add the rest of the butter and argan oil, with salt and pepper to taste. For serving, heat the mushroom soup in one pan and the peanut oil in another, bringing it to a high temperature to fry the pastry triangles which will be added to the soup. Finally garnish with the parsley. Pigeon soup Choumicha Acharki For 4 people 2 pigeons of about 250 g each 50 g barley semolina 1 white onion 1 bunch parsley 1 bunch coriander 200 g walnut kernels 3 tablespoons cream 40 g butter 3-4 tablespoons argan oil 1 teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper and ginger, 2 sticks cinnamon Preparation and cooking time: 2 hours Cook the onion in butter in a pan until clear. Add the pigeons, spices (ginger, pepper, cinnamon), parsley and coriander. Pour in two liters of water and leave to simmer. As soon as the pigeons are cooked, remove them from the pan and pass the soup through a fine conical strainer. Return the soup to the pan and add the barley semolina and half of the ground walnut kernels. Cook on low heat, mixing occasionally until the semolina is cooked. Debone the pigeons and chop up the meat in the pan. Mix in the cream and argan oil. Heat for two minutes before serving, decorating with walnut kernels. 23 Orkimen soup Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi For 8 people 4 mutton shanks 1⁄2 kg spelt 100 g dry broad beans with skin 2-3 corn cobs 250 g dry turnips 50 g lentils 1 olive 1 glass argan oil salt, pepper Preparation and cooking time: 6 hours, plus soaking Put the spelt in water the evening before and leave until the next morning. Do the same thing for the broad beans, turnips and lentils. Take the spelt, remove skin and grind in a mortar until floury. Pass through a strainer and remove the larger pieces. Put the spelt on a baking tray and leave – preferably in the sun – until dry. Boil the corn cobs and remove the cooked kernels. Use a large pan to boil the dried spelt, broad beans, turnips, lentils, and corn. Add the four mutton shanks, salt and pepper. When cooked add the argan oil and the olive. The original recipe says you need to cook the soup on hot coals for five or six hours. The alternative is to cook it on a wood stove. The soup should be very thick and is poured piping hot into large bowls. The soup prepared by the Amazigh Berber for the Orkimen festival is served on the evening of December 31 to the whole family and invited friends. An olive is put into the soup: whoever finds it is the luckiest in the group for that evening. 24 tajine Tajin, tajine or tagine (the word is Berber and Arab dialect) is a meat stew typical of North African and particularly Moroccan cuisine, which takes its name from the distinctive pot it is cooked in. The traditional pot is made entirely of terracotta, often enameled or decorated, and consists of two parts: a flat and circular base part with low sides, and a conical top part which rests on the other during cooking. The shape of the top is designed to help condensing liquid return to the bottom and has a knob to enable it to be easily held. The base is used to serve the food at the table. If you do not have a tajine pot it is also possible to use a pressure cooker, though the taste will not be as good. However, due to the significant migration from North Africa to Europe, it is now much easier to find tajine pots in ethnic and Moroccan shops. The pot is traditionally heated on a coal or wood-fired brazier called a bajmar. To use a tajine in a modern kitchen you need to place a metal mesh between the pot and the flame. The most well-known tajine dishes are mqualli (chicken with lemon and olives), kefta (meatballs and tomatoes) and mrouzia (lamb with plums and almonds). Other ingredients used are tuna, sardines, caramelized quince and vegetables. Sauces and spices (cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, ginger, garlic and pepper) are added to the main ingredients to enhance the flavor. It is then all cooked together on a low flame so the meat is tender and full-flavored. 25 Meat and vegetable tajine Khaltuma Zitouni For 5 people 1 kg meat (chicken, goat or lamb) or fish 1 onion, 300 g carrots, 300 g potatoes 300 g tomatoes 2 handfuls green olives a pinch of saffron 1 small cup argan oil salt, pepper Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour and 40 minutes Heat the argan oil in the tajine pot. Add the meat or fish and brown with half an onion, the pepper, salt and saffron. Leave on a low flame for a quarter of an hour for the first stage of cooking. Mix the meat and add the rest of the onion. Clean and dice the carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. Add all the vegetables to the meat which is continuing to cook and is occasionally topped up with water. Add the green olives and increase the flame. Leave to cook for another hour. At the end you can add a little raw argan oil. Serve in the terracotta tajine pot with Arab bread. 26 All the recipes in this section contain an ancient ingredient, saffron. This spice is extracted from the Crocus sativus (saffron crocus), the only eatable one of the 80 in the crocus family. Saffron is obtained from the pistils of the flower and must be harvested by hand, which is why the cost is so high. Apart from this, 150,000 flowers are needed to produce one kilo of saffron and they are not easy to cultivate. Saffron has mythical origins. Legend relates that the Greek god Hermes happened to mortally wound his friend Crocus. Small flowers with intense color and strong scent then grew where his blood fell to earth and fertilized it. Saffron was long considered a mystical spice: it was used to dye the robes of Roman priests and Cleopatra is said to have used it to preserve the beauty of her skin. How can you select high quality saffron? The main thing is to look at its appearance: saffron should be a vivid red without any trace of white impurities. It is better to buy it in filament form and not as powder. It should be slightly moist and have a sharp odor with slightly bitter aftertaste. You can also do a tactile test: take a filament between thumb and forefinger and immerse in warm water. The filament should leave yellow and not red color on the skin. Tajine of kid with zucchini and pinenuts Gad Azran For 4 people 600 g kid meat (shoulder and leg) 2 liters chicken stock 1⁄2 kg small zucchini, 250 g white onions, 2 cloves garlic, 3 bay leaves 1 bunch parsley, 100 g grilled pinenuts 15 saffron pistils, 5 g powdered ginger, 5 g turmeric, 3 g black pepper 1 teaspoon salted butter, 1 glass peanut oil, 1 glass argan oil Preparation and cooking time: two hours and a quarter, plus marinating time Cut the kid into small pieces and remove the fat. Leave the meat to macerate for four hours with the ginger, turmeric, pepper, bay leaves, garlic, butter and peanut oil. Put the macerated meat into a pan, cover with the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Lower the flame and cook for at least two hours. In the meantime wash and cut the zucchini in two and finely slice the onions. After 30 minutes cooking, add the onions and saffron to the meat and 10 minutes later, the zucchini. Finish cooking on a low flame. Place the meat, vegetables and pinenuts on a serving dish. Add the argan oil and decorate with parsley. 27 Beef tajine Chicken and pumpkin tajine Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi Choumicha Acharki For 4-6 people For 4 people 1 kg beef (shoulder) 250 g onions 1 glass argan oil 1 tablespoon ginger, a pinch of saffron salt, pepper 1⁄2 kg chicken breast 1⁄2 kg pumpkin 100 g cherry tomatoes 1 onion, 1 sprig parsley 4 tablespoons argan oil 1 teaspoon salt a pinch of pepper, ginger and saffron pistils Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour and 40 minutes Pour the argan oil into the terracotta pot. Add the meat cut into pieces and brown in the oil for five minutes. Add previously cleaned and cut onion, a pinch of salt, the ginger, saffron and a pinch of pepper. As the meat gradually cooks at low heat, add water: the tajine is the typical Moroccan meat stew. The recipe can be enhanced by adding green olives, boiled peeled almonds (200 g) or prunes. 28 Preparation and cooking time: 2 hours Cut the chicken breast into medium-large pieces. Pour two tablespoons argan oil into a pan and brown the finely sliced onion for five minutes. Add the diced chicken, spices (pepper, ginger, saffron) and parsley. Add a glass of water and cook on a low flame for 10 minutes. Dice the pumpkin into pieces the same size as the chicken. Add them with the cherry tomatoes to the pan and cook on higher flame for 15 minutes. As soon as the sauce is a creamy consistency, turn off the heat. Arrange the diced chicken, pumpkin and tomatoes on a dish. Cover with the sauce and complete with two tablespoons of argan oil before serving. meat dishes 29 30 Roast kebabs Chicken and pumpkin Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi Choumicha Acharki For 4-6 people For 4 people 1 kg meat (can be mixed) 1 liter argan oil cumin, ginger, coriander, peppercorns 8 chicken thighs 1⁄2 kg pumpkin 1 onion 6 tablespoons argan oil, 1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil 2 pinches saffron pistils, 1 pinch mace and salt Preparation and cooking time: 1⁄2 hour, plus marinating time Preparation and cooking time: 1⁄2 hour Mix the argan oil with the spices (cumin, pepper, ginger, coriander) and leave the meat to soak all night. Prepare the meat kebabs the next day. Cook on the grill for about 10 minutes, brushing with the gravy from soaking the meat. Finely slice the onion and brown with the chicken thighs in extravirgin olive oil for 10 minutes on a low flame. Put the spices in a glass of water and use to moisten the chicken. After boiling five minutes add the pumpkin diced in mediumlarge pieces. Cover and finish cooking. Season with the argan oil and serve immediately. Mace is a spice from the same plant (Myristica fragrans, originally from the Molucca Islands) which provides nutmeg: this is the seed while mace is obtained from the surrounding reddish husk. It is used for savory dishes, in liqueurs and for preparing mixtures of spices, including curry. 31 Taachat Choumicha Acharki For 4 people For the dumpling 1⁄2 kg wholemeal wheat flour 200 g corn flour For the sauce 1⁄2 kg lamb 5 cloves garlic 1⁄2 teaspoon saffron filaments, 1⁄2 teaspoon powdered ginger 1 glass argan oil, 100 g oudi (clarified butter) 1⁄2 teaspoon salt Preparation and cooking time: 1 1⁄2 hours Oudi is an ingredient of taachat and many other dishes. It is a butter without milk whey (the liquid obtained after coagulation of milk). It can be kept and does not go moldy, change flavor or aroma. To prepare it you melt butter and leave to stand until it goes hard. You then remove the upper part, eliminate the white liquid settled on the bottom of the container and finally melt the butter again. If desired you can add a pinch of thyme to give flavor. Put the diced meat in the base of a couscous pot, and brown on a low flame in argan oil and clarified butter. Add the whole cloves of garlic, saffron and ginger. Pour in 1 1⁄2 liters of water and remove half of the sauce when it boils. Cover the pot and leave to cook on a very low flame. Mix the two types of flour in a large vessel and knead with the sauce taken from the couscous pot until you get a friable dough. Use this to make fairly large dumplings with a hole in the middle. Cook them in the top part of the couscous pot in the steam of the remaining sauce. As soon as the meat is cooked and the dumplings are firm, stop cooking. Arrange the dumplings in a serving dish and moisten with the remaining sauce. Place the pieces of meat and cloves of garlic in the center of the dish. Serve immediately. This recipe is typical of the Taliouine region. It can also be used for free-range chicken (beldi). Traditionally the dumplings are cooked with the sauce in the same pot. In this case the dumplings are put on sticks placed on the meat like a grill, and left to cook. The holes in the dumplings allow the sauce to soak in. 32 fish dishes Bouzruk Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi For 4 people 1⁄2 kg mussels 250 g turnips, 2 tomatoes 2 tablespoons argan oil salt, pepper, red pepper Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus soaking Soak the mussels in water all night. Drain next day and cook for 1⁄2 hour in a pan with the argan oil, salt and pepper. Add the turnips and tomatoes, cleaned and cut into rounds, and cook for another 1⁄2 hour. 33 Scallop carpaccio with topinambur purée and beetroot chantilly Meryam Cherkaoui For 4 people Preparation time: 1 hour 12 scallops 4 thin slices of wholemeal bread fleur de sel salt, pepper Mix the beetroot purée with the olive oil and sherry vinegar. Heat half, then melt the gelatin and mix with the rest of the beetroot. Add the whipped cream and season with salt and pepper. Mix in well and leave at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Peel the topinambur, cut into pieces (not too small) and cook in the milk with a pinch of salt. Drain and pass through a strainer, then a sieve. Dry in a pan; add the argan oil, chopped spring onion and salt to taste. Finely chop the scallops and arrange them in a rose on a serving dish, leaving the center free. Before serving, season with the fleur de sel salt and ground pepper. Trickle vinaigrette on the scallop carpaccio. Toast the slices of wholemeal bread. Heat thetopinambur purée and put in the center of the dish. Arrange the slices of toast on the purée with quenelles of beetroot chantilly. For the topinambur purée 1 kg topinambur 4 glasses milk 1 bunch spring onions 2 tablespoons argan oil coarse and fine salt, pepper For the beetroot chantilly 40 g beetroot purée 80 g whipped cream one third of gelatin sheet 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar 1 tablespoon olive oil salt, pepper For seasoning: 1 cup spicy vinaigrette (recipe on p. 36) Fleur de sel salt is the first of the summer. It appears in the seawater basins before they dry out completely and is also the most expensive type of salt (it costs about 35 euro per kilo). The best and most highly regarded is the fleur de sel from Guérande in Brittany on the Atlantic coast, but it is also collected in the Camargue and Algarve. Fleur de sel is harvested in the form of small crystals, it has a slightly less strong effect than normal salt, is very moist and often has a distinctive slight aroma of the sea, while some people even detect sensations of violet. It is a high quality salt with a color tending to opaque white, a perfect match for salads and raw or steamed vegetables. 34 Crunchy asparagus and seabass Gad Azran For 4 people 12 green asparagus of average size 480 g seabass fillet without skin brik pastry a few leaves of lettuce for decoration 24 coriander leaves 6 saffron pistils oudi (clarified butter) 3 tablespoons olive oil salt, pepper For the argan oil vinaigrette 2 cloves pink garlic 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 glass argan oil 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar salt, pepper Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour The pastry used for brik, small triangles with sweet or savory filling, is called malsouka. It is prepared by beating three eggs and mixing with about 200 g durum wheat semolina and a tablespoon of extravirgin olive oil. Leave to stand at least 1 hour and cook the mixture in an oiled pan to give a very thin pastry sheet. Clean the asparagus, scald in salt water and keep topping up with very cold water. Dry with a cloth. Cut the seabass fillet into 12 fingers 7 centimetres long. Heat the olive oil with the saffron in a pan for 5 minutes and allow to cool to enhance the flavor. Pour the oil on the fish fingers and leave to macerate for 30 minutes with salt and pepper. Cut the brik pastry sheets into 24 strips measuring 7 centimeters by 10. Brush the clarified butter onto the pastry strips. When the asparagus is dry, roll into the brik pastry, leaving the tips uncovered. Drain the fish fingers, keeping the saffron oil for decoration. Place on two coriander leaves and roll into the brik pastry like cannoli. Cook the asparagus and fish fingers in a non-stick pan and season with pepper and salt. Prepare a serving dish with a little salad, arrange the asparagus and fish on it. For the vinaigrette, finely slice the cloves of garlic and mix with the other ingredients in a suitable vessel or a mixer. Serve with the asparagus and seabass in brik pastry. 35 sauces Chermoula Spicy vinaigrette Choumicha Acharki Meryam Cherkaoui 2 1 4 1 8 1 4 glasses argan oil 2 glasses sherry vinegar 1 tablespoon mustard relish 1 tablespoon wasabi salt, pepper cloves garlic bunch parsley tablespoons coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin teaspoon paprika tablespoons argan oil, 4 tablespoons vinegar teaspoon salt, 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper Preparation time: 1⁄4 hour 36 Preparation time: 3 minutes Chop up the cloves of garlic, coriander and parsley. Put the chopped mixture in a dish. Add the argan oil, vinegar, salt and all the spices (cumin, paprika, pepper). Mix carefully. Sherry vinegar, wasabi and the relish give this sauce a special flavor and it is very quick and easy to prepare: you just need to mix the ingredient well. Chermoula is a typical Moroccan sauce mainly served with grilled fish. It also goes well with other dishes due to its harmonious blend of flavors and aromas. It only takes 15 minutes to prepare and can be kept up to 2 weeks in a refrigerator. Sherry vinegar is considered the finest Spanish vinegar. Its preparation involves treating sherry with vinegar bacteria and holding in wood vats. It has a distinctive aroma with a vinous background, on the palate it has an acidic flavor with strong sherry sensations. Wasabi is a green paste with spicy flavor obtained from the rhizome of the Wasabia japonica, a plant in the Crucifer family. salads 37 Carrot and banana salad Sweet potato salad Choumicha Acharki Choumicha Acharki Per 4 persone 350 g carrots 2 bananas 8 walnut kernels 1 tablespoon grated coconut For the sauce: 1 tablespoon argan oil, 1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon liquid honey 1⁄4 teaspoon salt Preparation time: 35 minutes Clean and julienne the carrots. Peel the bananas and cut into rounds. Chop the walnut kernels. Mix together the carrots, bananas, grated coconut and chopped walnut kernels in a bowl. Carefully mix all the ingredients for the sauce in another container. Season the salad and arrange on plates or in half coconut shells. Serve fresh. 38 For 4 people 1⁄2 kg sweet potatoes 3 cloves of garlic 1 hot pepper 1 bunch parsley, 1 bunch coriander, 1 teaspoon sweet red pepper powder, 1 full teaspoon cumin 1 pinch saffron pistils 4 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons argan oil 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper For the sauce: 1 tablespoon argan oil, 1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon liquid honey, 1⁄4 teaspoon salt Preparation and cooking time: 45 minutes Peel, wash and cut the sweet potatoes. Crush the garlic and sauté in the olive oil for three minutes. Pour 1⁄2 liter water into the pan and when it boils add the sweet potatoes, parsley, hot pepper and spices (coriander, cumin, sweet red pepper). Cover and leave to simmer on a low flame. Mix the ingredients for the sauce separately. When cooking has finished, remove the bunches of parsley and coriander. Serve the sweet potatoes covered in sauce in a salad bowl and flavor with the argan oil. Semolina and pomegranate salad Choumicha Acharki For 5 people 350 g barley semolina 50 g toasted pinenuts 50 g toasted walnut kernels 200 g pomegranate seeds 4 tablespoons honey 4 tablespoons amlou (recipe on p. 41) 50 g butter thyme flavored oudi (clarified) 2 tablespoons argan oil Preparation time: 1⁄2 hour Prepare the oudi butter as described in the recipe for taachat on p. 32. Mix the hot semolina with the oudi butter and argan oil in a bowl. Leave to stand. Add the pinenuts, chopped walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Arrange on a plate and serve the salad with honey and amlou. The barley semolina can be replaced by precooked wheat. Granada salad Choumicha Acharki For 4 people 2 lettuce hearts 2 grapefruits, 1 avocado, 2 pomegranates lemon juice 250 g raw crab meat For the sauce 1 tablespoon argan oil grapefruit juice, sugar, salt Tempo di preparazione: 1⁄2 hour Dice the grapefruit and avocado: drip the latter with lemon juice. Place the lettuce hearts, grapefruit pieces, diced avocado and crab meat on a plate. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds. After carefully mixing the ingredients, season with the sauce and serve the fresh salad. The sauce is prepared by mixing argan oil and the juice saved after cutting the grapefruit, sugar and salt. The name of this salad derives from the fact that in the 7th century AD the Arabs brought the pomegranate, an ancient symbol of fertility and riches, to Spain and dedicated the city of Gharnada to the plant. After the Reconquista in 1492 the city’s name was changed to Granada, the Spanish word most similar to the Arab name, which means pomegranate, still the symbol of the city. 39 desserts Almonds, dates and honey – and in this case argan oil – are ingredients frequently used to prepare Moroccan desserts. They are usually accompanied by sweet mint tea. The drink is not only served at the end of a meal but also at various times of day: in the morning it is a light infusion of a few tea leaves and a lot of mint; from 11 onwards it finds its full aroma, while the afternoon tea can be considered strong since it has to perform its function as a digestive beverage. This is necessary for a cuisine like Moroccan cuisine which is rich, generous and spicy. To prepare a good mint tea, put two tablespoons of tea, a tablespoon of dried mint and 100 g sugar in a teapot with boiling water. Cover and allow to infuse for 5 minutes. Mix, taste and add, according to tradition, a bunch of fresh mint. Serve in small tea glasses by pouring the tea from a height so it foams on the surface. 40 Amlou Bsis Choumicha Acharki Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi For 4 people For 4 people 1⁄2 kg almonds 1⁄2 kg honey 1⁄2 liter argan oil 2-3 pinches cinnamon powder (optional) 150 g dried jujubes argan oil Preparation time: 1⁄2 hour Preparation time: 1⁄4 hour Grill the almonds in a pan on a low flame and grind. While or after grinding the almonds, gradually add the argan oil. Sweeten with the honey, stirring to obtain a homogenous mix, which can be flavored with cinnamon if wished. Put in a bowl in the center of the table where all the dinner guests can reach it. The amount of honey can be varied according to taste. Amlou is a traditional Moroccan spread. It can be served at any time of day: breakfast, as a children’s snack, or as a dessert at the end of a meal. It is usually eaten spread on slices of homemade bread, but alternatives could be crêpes, muffins, or pancakes. In Morocco it is said to have aphrodisiac, tonic and stimulant properties. Crush the jujubes in a mortar until they are like flour. Pass the flour through a sieve and pour into a pan with the argan oil. Mix to a dense workable paste. Roll the paste into a cylindrical shape. Cut into slices. Serve on a plate accompanied by mint tea. The recipe, typical of Tafraut, is made when guests are invited or it is used for the baptism ritual, when it is the present offered by a mother to her child. It can also be prepared in a «liquid» version: it is spread on bread for breakfast or for children’s snacks. We eat this spread for dinner after a tasty spelt soup and the girls in the family say: «this is our traditional Nutella». It is in fact sweet and it is amazing to find it does not contain honey or sugar. If we ask for an explanation we learn that «it’s the jujube nut that does it». 41 Sweet couscous There are many legends and anecdotes from everday life associated with the origins of this dish. Seffa couscous (ceffa in French transliterations), meaning sweet, is couscous impregnated with fresh butter and decorated with almonds, cinnamon, raisins and usually dates. There are many possible recipes in a range of colorful versions. In the article “Recette d’antan” published in «Saveurs et Cuisine du Maroc» (Issue 5, May/June 2006) by Choumicha Acharki, three different scenarios are suggested for the origin of sweet couscous. The first one is based on unexpected guests. People unexpectedly arrive at a woman’s house for dinner. Maybe friends of her husband or relatives. Guests are respected, they cannot be sent away even if all you have at home is some leftover couscous and no meat or vegetables. At one time there were no refrigerators or cold storage which now enable you to save face in these cases. So what can the woman think up? She heats the leftover couscous, impregnates it with butter and decorates with icing sugar and cinnamon. She then serves it, accompanied by orange flower flavored milk. The second story tells of a particularly absent-minded and talkative woman. She leaves the couscous cooking in the top of the pot and vegetables with meat in the base. Suddenly she remembers she has to fetch the washing but … on the roof of the house she sees friends from other houses and begins to chat. When she remembers the food on the stove it is too late: the vegetables and meat are burned, the only thing still alright is the couscous. Her husband is due home soon. The woman is desperate, she doesn’t know what to make for dinner and all at once invents seffa couscous. She takes the cooked couscous, adds butter and decorates the dish with hard-boiled eggs, cinnamon, almonds, walnuts, dates, and icing sugar. The third explanation: a woman has an impatient husband who one day wants to eat early because he has an important meeting in the early afternoon and demands something straight away for lunch. The wife, who is preparing couscous with meat and vegetables, says that the meat is not yet cooked. But the husband continues to chivvy her. So the woman decides to serve the couscous with melted butter flavored with sugar and cinnamon and says: «Lunch is ready, sef as you are in a hurry!». Sef in Moroccan dialect means to swallow without chewing, it is only a small step from sef to seffa. 42 Seffa couscous with exotic fruits Gad Azran Seffa couscous with almonds Choumicha Acharki For 4 people 400 g medium grain couscous 100 g Granny Smith apples (green and sour), 100 g kiwi 100 g pineapple, 100 g strawberries, 100 g bananas 100 g passion fruit, 1 bunch fresh mint 50 g almonds 2 tablespoons cane sugar syrup 50 g icing sugar 75 g melted butter 4 tablespoons argan oil Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour and 50 minutes Mix the couscous with half the melted butter and leave to macerate for 1⁄2 hour. Pour the couscous into a bowl and mix a second time with the remaining butter, separating the clumps by hand. Put everything into the couscous pot and finish cooking. Cover with a moist cloth and keep warm. While the couscous is cooking, wash, peel and cut the fruit into small pieces. Mix with the syrup and mint – previously washed and finely chopped – and keep cool. Before serving, mix the couscous with the icing sugar, put on a serving dish and mold it with a hole in the middle to hold the fruit salad. Decorate with grilled almonds and sprinkle with argan oil. For 4 people 400 g cooked couscous 40 g toasted almonds 2 tablespoons orange flower water 2 teaspoons sugar cinnamon powder 2 tablespoons argan oil Preparation time: 1⁄2hour Put the couscous in a large dish and sprinkle with orange flower water . Add the argan oil, sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Carefully work by hand until the ingredients are evenly mixed. Heap the couscous in a serving dish in the shape of a cone. Decorate with ground cinnamon and the grilled almonds. 43 Dates filled with cheese and walnuts Ishfanj Touria Laassouli Choumicha Acharki For 15 dates 15 stoned dates 30 g walnut kernels 100 g ricotta or fresh cheese 80 g roquefort 1 teaspoon argan oil, salt Preparation time: 1⁄2 hour Mix the fresh cheese with the roquefort and argan oil using a whisk. Salt to taste. Add half the chopped walnuts and put in a pastry bag. Fill the stoned dates with the cheese mixture and finally decorate with the remaining walnuts. 44 Chocolate zabaglione Meryam Cherkaoui For 6 people For 4 people 1 kg wheat flour 30 g yeast argan oil Preparation time: 1⁄2 hour, plus leavening time Mix the yeast with the flour and enough water to make a soft, not too stiff dough. Leave the dough to stand for about 1 hour in a warm place. Heat the argan oil in a pan on a fairly high flame. Make balls from the dough and fry in the oil. In the village of Ait Baha ishfanj are always offered to guests at any time of day. They are also eaten for breakfast with honey and bilna’na or mint tea (recipe at the beginning of this section). Mint tea is a traditional beverage served at various times of day and often at the end of a meal. 1 whole egg and 3 yolks 300 g cream 125 g dark chocolate 80 g sugar Preparation time: 1⁄2 hour Beat the egg white until stiff. Cook the yolks with the sugar to get a syrup. Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a bain-marie and lightly whip the cream. When the mixer has cooled, first add the melted chocolate, then the cream to the eggs. Mix together gently. Keep in the refrigerator. Amlou ice cream Dacquoise Meryam Cherkaoui Meryam Cherkaoui For 4 people 50 g almond powder, 30 g ground almonds 1 egg white 40 g semolina sugar, 50 g icing sugar 150 g amlou (recipe on p. 41) 5 egg yolks 6 glasses milk 50 g sugar Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time Heat the milk with the amlou. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar. Blend together and cook as for custard. Strain the mixture into an ice cream maker. Vanilla caramel Preparation time: 20 minutes Prepare a caramel with 30 g semolina sugar. Add the chopped almonds, then finely chop it all with a knife when cold . Whip the egg white with the rest of the sugar until stiff. Add the almond powder and sieved icing sugar. Place in small heaps on a baking tray and add the caramelized almonds. Bake for a few minutes at 180°C. Meryam Cherkaoui 125 g cream 40 g sugar 1 drop vanilla essence Meryam Cherkaoui‘s four recipes can be combined by alternating cups of zabaglione with the Dacquoise and completing with a tablespoon of caramel and scoop of ice cream. Preparation time: 10 minutes Heat the dry sugar to caramelize. Allow to cool before adding the cream and vanilla. 45 The people who helped us to produce this book 46 Choumicha Acharki Meryam Cherkaoui Married with two children, a graduate in marketing and communication, and presenter of a TV cooking program on Moroccan 2M television, Choumicha is one of the most well-known women in Morocco. In addition she is the author of the first Moroccan cooking magazine, Saveurs et cuisine du Maroc, and is prompted to exclaim «I really do have cooking in my blood». Like most girls, Choumicha began to cook at an early age and states that her main cooking education was from her mother. This “family style slow food” can be seen in the attitudes of this 34 year old from Casablanca. She wants to revive ancient recipes at the expense of standardized fast food cuisine which is making inroads in Morocco, particularly among young people. Many housewives only know the typical cuisine of their local area, while Choumicha aims to present the cuisine of the entire country as a connected whole. This will help almost forgotten recipes to revive and local products too. Since 2001 Meryam Cherkaoui has been owner and chef of the restaurant Maison du Gourmet. She trained in France at the renowned Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon where she attended a three year course in culinary arts and hotel management. From 1998 she gained work experience in various prominent French hotels such as Le Majestic and its Villa de Lys restaurant in Cannes, the hotel de Carillon’s Les Ambassadeurs restaurant in Paris and Les Mouettes at Larmor-Plage in Brittany as chef de partie. In 2001 she returned home to Casablanca in Morocco, where whe worked as chef de cuisine at the restaurant Aéropostale in Casablanca. With her French husband Philippe Pesneau, whom she met while working in Cannes, she offers traditional Moroccan dishes with a new harmonious style in a restaurant worthy of its name, located in the center of Morocco’s administrative capital, Casablanca. Maison du Gourmet 159, Rue Taha Houcine (ex Galilée) Quartier Gauthier Casablanca Tel +212 22 48 48 46 Fax +212 22 48 48 45 Closed: Saturday lunch time and Sunday Gad Azran Of Jewish-Moroccan origin, after graduating in information technology, he worked for a long time in the clothing sector, first in Morocco and then in France. After a few years his job took him to the United States, initially to Miami and then New York, where he decided to change direction and enrolled at New York’s prestigious French Culinary Institute ( Fci) . Thanks to his qualification and growing interest in gastronomy, he managed to work alongside the great 3 star Michelin chef Jean Georges. After six years of work and, as Gad says «six years of great education», he was responsible for opening restaurants in various countries: Bahamas, Thailand, Mexico and France. In the French capital Gad met the 3 star Michelin chef Michel Trama, who passed on to him his enthusiasm for tradition combined with innovation. He worked with him for two years and then decided to return home. His present objective is to create a restaurant in his birth place, Casablanca, dedicated to traditional Moroccan cuisine. He wants to maintain a strong focus on local quality products, but not neglecting innovation and creative reinterpretation of dishes. Other women who contributed to the preparation of this book: Aisha Ibnou Al Kadi is a 60 year-old housewife. She is of Imazighen Berber origin from Tafraut. Khaltuma Zitouni is 30 and President of the Tamaynoute cooperative in Azrarague. She learned to cook from her mother. Suad Aghla, 34, works in the Taitmatine cooperative in Tiout, crushing argan fruit to obtain seeds. She learned to cook from her mother. Touria Laassouli, 36, is Director of the Ait Baha cooperative. Originally from Beni Mellal, between Fez and Marrakesh in central Morocco, she married in the village where she now works. Some recipes were taught her by the women in the cooperative, others were from her mother. 47 Argan only grows on the southern coast of Morocco in a poor, arid zone with very high summer temperatures. This thorny tree is an amazing resource because it not only helps to oppose the dangerously advancing desert but its berries provide a golden, intensely flavored oil with hazelnut notes. We have selected 33 dishes based on argan oil from the cookbooks of chefs and Moroccan families: sauces, salads, couscous, soups, tajines and desserts.
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