this is a good baseline, but you can also substitute out or add other vegetables/fruits as you please (popular ones also include cauliflower, turnips, peas, dried plums, and green beans), or play with the spices.
1. prepare the vegetables: quarter or slice the tomatoes; peel and cut the potatoes into (very) large cubes; peel carrots and cut in half lengthwise (from the greens end to the tip) and crosswise; cut the yellow squash in half lengthwise and crosswise; cut the zucchini in half or in quarters (depending on its size) lengthwise and in half crosswise.
2. place chopped onion, garlic, and saffron in the bottom of a large clay cooking tajine (you can also use a Dutch oven, a slow cooker, or a thick pot with a diffuser).
3. arrange the vegetables that take the longest to cook on the bottom of the tajine and the ones that cook the fastest towards the top. in this case, the potatoes are added first, then the carrots, then the squash and the olives. I prefer to quarter the tomatoes and put them in the centre, but you can also slice them and lay them on top.
4. add parsley and cilantro over top of the vegetables, then sprinkle the spices evenly over the tajine. drizzle ¼ cup of olive oil and 1 cup of water over the spices and vegetables.
5. cover and cook on low for about 2 hours, occasionally pouring liquid from the bottom of the tajine back over the top of the vegetables, until vegetables are cooked.
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)
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.
1. prepare the butternut squash by peeling it (microwaving it for about 30 seconds will make this easier), halving it lengthwise, scraping out the seeds and pulp, and cutting it into cubes of about 1″ in width.
2. peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into cubes of about the same size.
3. arrange onions and garlic in the bottom of a large clay cooking tajine (you can also use a Dutch oven, a slow cooker, or a thick pot with a diffuser). add the pinch of saffron, then arrange squash and potatoes in an even layer over the onions.
4. sprinkle the spices over the vegetables (you can play around with these but this is what I used), add the cinnamon sticks, and drizzle the olive oil over top.
5. cover the tajine and cook on low with a diffuser for about 30 minutes, until the squash and sweet potatoes begin to soften.
6. if using unblanched almonds, blanch them while the tajine cooks by placing them into boiling water for about a minute, draining and rinsing with cool water, then pinching the skin off each one.
7. after 30 minutes, add the golden raisins and blanched almonds and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until butternut squash and sweet potato are soft and cooked through.
taktouka (Moroccan cooked salad with green peppers, tomatoes, and spices)
recipe under the cut!
2 green bell peppers
5 medium tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced and crushed
1 small bunch of cilantro, diced
1 small bunch of parsley, diced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1. char the skin of the peppers by roasting them on the burner of a gas or electric coil stove set to high, or on a grill, turning periodically with tongs or forks. if you don’t have a gas or electric coil stove or grill, you can roast the peppers in the upper third of an oven set to broil for 20 minutes, turning 4-5 times. all sides of the peppers should be black.
2. place the peppers in a covered pot, under an upside-down mixing bowl, or in a large zipped plastic bag for about 15 minutes to trap steam and make them easier to peel.
3. peel tomatoes by placing them in a covered bowl with just-boiled water for about a minute–this should make the skins easy to remove. seed and mince the peeled tomatoes.
4. remove the skin from the peppers, seed them, and mince them.
5. heat olive oil over medium heat until sizzling. add crushed garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt and sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds. add minced tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to thicken.
6. add peppers, parsley, and cilantro and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 15-20 minutes until the mixture is dry. if the pepper is not cooked, add a few tablespoons of water and continue to cook.
7. top the salad with green or Beldi olives, slices of preserved lemon rind, and/or parsley as desired.
taktouka is served hot or cold with khobz as an appetizer or side dish.
1. mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. add just enough water to create a smooth, non-sticky dough–you may need less than 1 ½ cup.
2. knead dough on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, until it is very smooth and elastic.
3. oil a baking sheet or another clean work surface. oil your hands and divide the dough into balls of about 1.5 – 2″ in diameter (or more, if you want to make larger msmen)
by pinching it between your forefinger and your thumb. add more oil to your hands as necessary. place the dough balls onto the oiled surface, cover, and allow to rest for about 20 minutes.
4. start with the first ball that you formed and work your way towards the last. with oiled hands, stretch each ball of dough out into a circle that is as thin as possible without tearing–the oil should help to make the dough more supple. the dough should be partially transparent.
5. dot the circle of dough with butter and sprinkle it with a bit of semolina flour.
6. fold one edge of the dough into the center of the circle, sprinkle with semolina, and then fold the other edge into the center. you should end up with the circle folded in thirds, like an envelope.
7. sprinkle the dough with semolina again. fold the top of the strip of dough down into the center, sprinkle again with semolina, and then fold the bottom of the strip up to form a sqare. place the square back on your oiled surface and repeat for each ball of dough.
8. again, start with the first square you formed and work your way to the last. on an oiled surface, flatten each square with your fingers until about doubles in size, trying to keep the folds still aligned with the edges of the square.
9. fry each square in a lightly oiled pan over medium heat for about two minutes on each side until golden brown. pressing down on each square for a few seconds with your hands or the flat end of a spatula will help them to cook evenly. you may find it expedient to fry the squares you’ve already formed while you’re flattening more.
10. place each finished square on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. add a bit more oil to the pan as necessary–I found it helpful to do this when 1/3 of the squares were fried, and again at 2/3 of the way through. serve hot.
msmen are typically eaten for breakfast or as an afternoon snack, spread with honey, jam, cheese, Nutella, you name it!
2. add melted butter and mix with your hands until the grains of semolina are well-moistened.
3. add in ½ cup of milk and mix with your hands again. add additional milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until dough is wet and easily forms a ball.
4. let rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the semolina to absorb the liquid.
5. cover a surface with more semolina. flatten the dough onto the surface using your hands to a thickness of about ½ inch, then cut out harcha with a cookie cutter or a large glass– or form small balls of dough and flatten them out to a thickness of about ½ inch.
6. heat a pan for a few minutes over medium-low heat. cook harcha for about 10 minutes on each side, until firm and golden brown.
harcha are commonly served for breakfast or snacks, cut open and filled with jam, honey, cheese, or olive oil.
vegetable pastilla (Moroccan sweet and savoury pie with squash, chickpeas, and almonds)
recipe under the cut!
I’ve substituted the typical pigeon or chicken with zucchini, yellow squash, and chickpeas in this vegan recipe. for the shell you’ll need to make warqa dough (which isn’t really commercially available outside of Morocco), or you can substitute store-bought phyllo dough, which isn’t quite as thin and crispy but will do the trick.
for the warqa dough:
1 ¾ cup high-gluten bread flour
¼ cup semolina flour / durum flour (or substitute all-purpose flour)
½ cup dried chickpeas soaked overnight, or 1 can chickpeas
3 vegan eggs from Follow Your Heart (optional)
1 small bouquet of parsley, diced
1 small bouquet of cilantro, diced
1 ½ cup almonds
1 tbsp cinnamon
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp orange blossom water
to form the pastilla:
¼ cup vegan margarine, melted
additional almonds (optional)
about 2 tbsp powdered sugar
about 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
for the warqa:
1. add flours and salt to a food processor and pulse a few times to sift.
2. add the wet ingredients and process on low for 1-2 minutes, until you get a smooth batter.
3. refrigerate the batter for at least two hours, or overnight.
4. bring a few inches of water to a fast boil in a large pot, and place a large, nonstick pan over the pot, tying it with kitchen string if necessary–this will help to evenly distribute heat and prevent the warqa from drying out. allow the pan to heat for a few minutes.
5. using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of batter onto the pan in large, circular strokes, filling the entire pan. carefully apply a second layer to any bare spots (but don’t worry about small holes or feathery edges).
6. cook until the warqa becomes opaque and the edges start to curl, about 2 minutes. loosen the edges of the dough with a spatula and peel the dough off of the pan using your hands.
7. flip the dough over onto a plate covered with a paper towel, and lay another paper towel on top of it. repeat, stacking the sheets of dough on top of each other, until you’ve used all of the batter.
for the savoury filling:
1. toast cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and saffron threads in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. (if using ground spices, just toast the saffron threads.)
2. grind spices in a spice mill (I use a coffee grinder). if you’re using ground spices, you can just crush the toasted saffron threads with your fingers or in a mortal and pestle.
3. mix ground spices, ras el hanout, and 2 tsp salt with 3 tbsp olive oil–if you’re using ground ginger, add it now. chop the zucchini and yellow squash into small cubes and coat them with the spiced oil.
4. spread the squash evenly in a single layer over a baking sheet and roast at 450F for 20 minutes.
5. heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan on medium heat for a few minutes until sizzling. add diced onion and garlic and grated ginger and cook for a few minutes until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
6. (optional): whisk ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp Follow Your Heart vegan egg mix with 1 ½ cups of cold water until smooth.
7. add egg mixture, roasted squash, chickpeas, parsley, and cilantro to the pan with the onion and garlic. heat, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are fully cooked and appear scrambled (or until the filling is warmed through, if you’re omitting the eggs).
for the almond filling:
1. blanch the almonds by boiling them in water for about a minute, emptying them into a colander and rinsing with cool water, and gently pinching the skins to remove them.
2. heat about 2 tsp of vegetable oil on medium in a large pan and fry the almonds for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until golden brown. set aside some almonds for a topping, if desired.
3. pulse almonds, sugar, cinnamon, and orange blossom water a few times in a food processor until you get coarse crumbs.
forming the pastilla:
1. place one sheet of warqa in the bottom of a pie pan and brush with melted margarine. place 4-5 more sheets around the pan so that they cover all of the sides and hang over the edge, brushing each one with more melted margarine. add 2 more sheets of warqa in the middle, brushing each with margarine.
2. place the savoury filling in the pie, making sure that it’s even and spread all the way to the edges.
3. (optional): add another sheet or two of warqa on top of the savoury filling and brush with margarine.
4. spread the almond filling over the warqa, making sure that it’s even and spread all the way to the edges.
5. add another 2-3 sheets of warqa, brushing each with margarine, and fold the excess inwards.
6. fold the excess warqa around the sides of the pan inwards, brushing each sheet with more melted margarine.
7. cover the pastilla with 1-2 more sheets of warqa, tucking the excess into the sides of the pie pan. brush the entire thing with more margarine to seal.
8. bake on the center rack of an oven at 400F for about 40 minutes, until warqa is golden brown and crisp. allow to cool slightly before removing from pan.
1. sift powdered sugar evenly onto the surface of the pastilla.
2. add ground cinnamon, spread evenly or in a pattern as desired (I formed diamonds by criss-crossing lines of cinnamon carefully with a small spoon).
3. add the almonds you kept back from the almond filling as desired. you can also use sliced or slivered almonds. try doing an image search for “Moroccan pastilla” or “pastilla marocaine” for decoration ideas.
cut carefully and serve! pastilla is often eaten with harissa, a North African hot sauce made with red peppers.
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, or 1 can of chickpeas
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup vermicelli
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cilantro, diced
¼ cup parsley, diced
1. prepare your ingredients. if using fresh tomatoes–place them in a covered bowl with boiling water for a couple of minutes, then peel them. cut them into fourths and remove the seeds. pulse them in a food processor until you get a smooth puree. chop the celery sticks and dice the onion.
2. heat oil in a large pot on medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer, then add diced onion, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, and ras el hanout, and cook for about three minutes.
3. lower the heat to medium. add the water, tomatoes, celery, saffron, lentils, chickpeas (if using dried), and butter. cover and allow to cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. add the canned chickpeas. add the tomato paste and flour in bit by bit, stirring continously (you may find this easier if you dilute the tomato paste and flour with some broth from the soup first). taste and adjust spices.
5. add the vermicelli, cilantro, and parsley. cover and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked.
harira is often served as a first dish during Ramadhan with khobz, dates, and walnuts.
1. prepare the vegetables: chop the onion, peel the potatoes and turnips and cut them into large cubes; peel the carrots and cut them into large chunks (horizontally in pieces of about 3 inches and then in half lengthwise); wash the zucchini and cut it in the same way; peel the tomatoes (placing them in a covered bowl for about a minute with some boiling water should make this easy) and cut them into forths, keeping the seeds; cut the cabbage into very large pieces; and dice the parsley and cilantro.
2. heat olive oil in a large pot on medium-high until it starts to shimmer. add chopped onion and ras el hanout, cumin, paprika, ginger, cinnamon, and salt and saute until the onion begins to turn transluent (about 8 minutes).
3. lower the heat to medium / medium-low. add potatoes, turnips, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, chickpeas (if using dried), saffron, parsley, and cilantro to the pot along with 2 cups of water. cover and cook for about an hour.
4. add the zucchini, red chilis, chickpeas (if using canned) and another cup of water. taste and adjust spices. cover and continue to cook until the zucchini is slightly soft, about 15 minutes. remove from heat.
for the couscous:
1. add 3 cups of couscous to a large bowl. add olive oil and work the couscous with your fingers until the grains are coated in the oil.
2. add salt and boiling water, then cover the bowl. allow couscous to steam for about 10 minutes.
3. add butter if desired and fluff up the couscous with a fork–it should be cooked through and much larger in volume.
1. in a large dish, pile the couscous in a dome-like shape.
2. pour some of the sauce from the pot over the couscous, then top the dome with the vegetables as desired. (make sure to fish out the cinnamon stick if you used one!)
couscous dishes are always eaten with khobz and are especially popular during Ramadhan.
recipes for ras el hanout vary from region to region and from person to person, so feel free to play around with the measurements! main ingredients are bolded; all others are more or less optional. don’t worry too much if you don’t have anything in particular!
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns, or 2 tsp ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp whole white peppercorns, or 1 tsp ground white pepper
2 ½ tsp coriander seeds, or 2 tsp ground coriander
1 large cinnamon stick, broken up, or 2 tsp ground cinnamon
About 20 green cardamom pods, or 1½ teaspoons ground cardamom
2 tsp ground paprika (or 1 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika and 1 tsp Hungarian hot paprika)
2 tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp ground orris root
1½ tsp ground mace
1½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg, or ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground galangal
1 teaspoon dried lavender
1 teaspoon dried rose petals
½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
if using whole spices:
peppercorns, coriander seeds, cinnamon, cardamom pods, fennel seeds, anise
seeds, cubeb berries, cloves, allspice berries, star anise, and bay leaves in a dry skillet
over medium-low heat for a few minutes until fragrant, agitating occasionally to
avoid burning. allow to cool slightly.
cardamom pods by crushing them gently with a pestle or the flat of a knife, and
extract the seeds.
3. add all of the
toasted spices and the remaining ground spices to a spice mill (I use a coffee
grinder reserved for grinding spices) and grind spices into a fine powder. store spice mix in an airtight container.
if using ground spices:
1. mix all spices together in a small bowl. store in an airtight container.
this spice mix is very versatile and can be used in meat and vegetable dishes, soups, and tajines!