vegan “beef” seffa madfouna
recipe under the cut!
seffa madfouna is a Moroccan main dish that consists of a meat such as chicken, lamb, or beef buried (“madfouna”) in a dome of couscous or vermicelli that’s been sweetened with powdered sugar, golden raisins, and butter. without the meat, the dish is called “seffa” and is served as a dessert.
for the seffa:
- 1lb (450g) broken vermicelli (you can find this in a Middle Eastern or comparable store)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 8 cups (1 litre) water
- 1 fresh lemon, halved, or 3 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp orange blossom water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¾ cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water
- 2 tbsp vegan margarine
- ¼ cup powdered sugar, or to taste
for the meat:
- 2 packs Gardein beefless tips
- 2 tsp ras el hanout
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground black pepper or whole black peppercorns, toasted and ground
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
or whole white peppercorns, toasted and ground
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 large pinch saffron, toasted
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon, or 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 cup almonds
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 2 tsp orange blossom water
- about ½ cup dried dates (optional)
- additional powdered sugar and ground cinnamon
steaming the seffa:
the vermicelli will need to be steamed three or four times.
1. place vermicelli in a large bowl and, using your hands, coat evenly with oil.
2. boil about 8 cups of water, lemon, orange blossom water, and cinnamon in the bottom of a couscoussier, or in a large pot.
3. reduce heat to medium-low and add vermicelli in the top of your couscoussier, or in a strainer or colander that fits inside the pot without touching the water. steam for about 20 minutes, until you see the edges of the broken vermicelli begin to point upwards.
[before and after steaming]
4. return the vermicelli to the bowl and add about 1 cup (250ml) warm, salted water, using your hands or a fork to ensure that the water is evenly distributed. allow the vermicelli to absorb the water for about 10 minutes.
5. return the vermicelli to the couscoussier and steam for another 20 minutes, until the edges begin to point upwards. this is the second steaming.
6. return the vermicelli to the bowl and add 1/3 to ½
(80 – 120ml) cup of water, depending on how dry the pasta feels. it should be almost tender enough to eat.
7. add in the golden raisins. return the vermicelli to the couscoussier and steam for another 20 minutes
(you may need to add more water). this is the third steaming.
8. repeat this process again if the vermicelli is still not tender enough to eat. it won’t have the same texture as cooked noodles but it shouldn’t be hard in the center.
9. add margarine and sisugar, making sure they’re evenly incorporated.
preparing the meat:
1. defrost the beefless tips in a bowl filled with warm water until no longer frozen.
2. mix the oil with the ras el hanout, ground ginger, black pepper, white pepper, salt, cinnamon (if using ground) and saffron. toss beefless tips in spiced oil, leaving aside about 3 tbsp for cooking the onions. set beef in the fridge to marinate.
3. heat the remainder of the spiced oil over medium heat and add onions, beefless tips, and cinnamon (if using a stick). cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and the tips are fully cooked. set aside.
preparing the toppings:
1. blanch the almonds by leaving them in boiling water for about a minute, rinsing them in cool water, and gently removing their skins. dry thoroughly.
2. heat enough oil to cover the almonds in a pan over medium-low heat. an almond dropped into the oil should cause a bubble to form–if the oil sputters, it’s too hot. fry almonds, stirring constantly, until golden brown. allow to cool.
3. grind ½ cup of fried almonds in a food processor with 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp orange blossom water until coarse crumbs form. set aside.
assembling the dish:
1. spread a layer of vermicelli on the bottom of a large serving dish. top with a mound of beefless tips in a rough dome shape.
2. pile the rest of the vermicelli on top of the beefless tips until they are fully covered, completing the dome.
3. top with fried almonds, almond mixture, ground cinnamon, powdered sugar, and dates as desired.