hssoua belboula (Moroccan barley and milk soup, optionally vegan)
recipe under the cut!
1 cup (200g) barley grits, or pearl barley ground into a coarse meal in a spice / coffee grinder
5 ¾ cups (135cl) water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 cups (50cl) whole milk (or soy milk plus 2 tbsp vegan margarine–to mimic the higher fat content of whole milk)
2 tbsp butter or vegan margarine
2/3 cup (16cl) evaporated milk (or 1 1/3 cup soy milk simmered over a low flame until it is halved in volume–don’t allow it to reach a rolling boil). [this should not be confused with sweetened condensed milk! you can also make evaporated milk by simmering dairy milk until its volume is about halved.]
1. pick through the barley grits to remove debris. wash several times in a large bowl until the water comes away clear.
2. combine barley, water, olive oil, salt, cumin, and black pepper in a medium-sized pot. bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the barley grits are tender (this time may differ depending on how fine or coarse your grits are).
3. stir in the whole milk (or soy milk and margarine) and continue to simmer for 3-5 minutes.
4. remove from heat and stir in the butter (or margarine) and evaporated milk. taste and adjust spices.
* you can adjust the thickness of this soup by increasing or decreasing the amount of milk and water added, or by using finer or coarser barley grits. you can also make this soup without evaporated milk–just replace half the water with milk.
hssoua is made with barley or semolina and is a common breakfast food during Ramadan. it is eaten with additional cumin and/or olive oil, or sweetened with sugar or honey.
baghrir (crêpes “mille trous” / Moroccan crêpes with a “thousand holes”)
recipe under the cut!
makes 12-14 crêpes
for the baghrir:
1 ½ cup (245g) semolina flour
1 cup (135g) all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 cups (700ml) lukewarm water
for the syrup:
~ 1 cup butter or vegan margarine
~ 1 cup honey or agave nectar
for the baghrir:
1. add semolina flour, all-purpose flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and yeast to a food processor or blender, and pulse a few times to mix. (if measuring by volume, make sure to measure the all-purpose flour by spooning it into a measuring cup until heaping and then levelling off the excess–scooping with the measuring cup will pack the flour and cause you to add too much.)
2. with the food processor running on low, slowly add all of the water–a thin batter should form. continue to blend for another minute until well combined.
3. pour the batter into a large bowl and cover. let rest for about 20 minutes.
4. heat an ungreased pan over medium / medium-low heat for a few minutes. pour about ½ cup of batter into the middle of the pan–it will spread out into a circle on its own. you should soon see holes start to form in the surface of the baghrir. if holes don’t form as expected, your batter may be too thick–stir some water into it and leave it to rest for another 10-20 minutes. the batter should be very slightly frothy before you begin to use it (but don’t let it rest for too long either!).
5. continue to cook until there are no more raw spots on the top of the baghrir, then remove to a plate with a spatula. the baghrir are only cooked on one side (though in some regions of Morocco they are cooked on top for just a few seconds–then they’re referred to as
khringos). if the bottom of the baghrir are browning before the top is cooked through, lower the heat a bit.
for the syrup:
1. heat butter and honey, stirring often, in a small pan over medium heat until the honey is bubbling and the butter is melted. dip the baghrir quickly into the syrup, or pour the syrup over the baghrir.
baghrir are served warm with syrup or jam and are a popular Ramadan or snack food. typically they are rolled up and eaten with your fingers.
eggplant tajine with tomatoes, chickpeas and squash
recipe under the cut!
1 white onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1 large eggplant, sliced
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tomatoes, diced
½ cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, or 1 can of chickpeas
1 zucchini or yellow squash (optional)
2 tsp salt, or to taste
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
1 stick cinnamon, or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp mace (or substitute nutmeg)
½ tsp cardamom
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup water
1. peel eggplant in strips, if desired, and cut into slices about a half inch in width. soak the sliced eggplant in saltwater (optionally with a few tablespoons of lemon juice) for about an hour to remove excess water.
2. meanwhile, spread the chopped onion and minced garlic along the bottom of a clay tajine, slow cooker, or large pot with a diffuser. add the tomatoes, the squash (if using) and the chickpeas.
3. sprinkle the spices evenly over top of the vegetables in your tajine. drizzle ¼ cup of olive oil and 1 cup of water over the spices and vegetables. cover and cook on low for about an hour, until the squash and chickpeas (if using dried) are nearly tender. if you’re using canned chickpeas and forgoing the squash you may need less time.
4. heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. fry eggplant in a single layer for a minute or two on each side, until lightly golden brown. set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
5. add the fried eggplant over top of the other vegetables and continue to cook, occasionally pouring some of the cooking liquid from the bottom of the tajine back over the eggplant, for another few minutes under very tender.
makes one two-layered 9″ cake, or one 9″ x 13″ loaf
for the cake:
3 ¼ cups (390g) all-purpose flour
2 cups (200g) shredded carrot
2 cups (440g) light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 ¼ tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
about 1 cup total chopped and toasted walnuts and/or pecans (optional)
2/3 cup (160mL) vegetable oil
2 cups (470mL) water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp vanilla extract
for the cream cheese frosting (makes a generous amount):
12oz vegan cream cheese (1 and a half standard tubs)
½ cup (1 stick) vegan margarine, softened
½ cup (115g) vegan sour cream
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
3-4 cups (375-500g) vegan powdered sugar
pinch of nutmeg
toasted walnuts and pecans for garnish
for the cake:
1. combine flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl (if measuring flour by volume, gently spoon it into a measuring cup until it’s heaping and then level it off. brown sugar should be packed tightly into the measuring cup).
2. grate, or shred using a food processor, peeled carrots or baby carrots and mix into the other dry ingredients. toast chopped walnuts and pecans on a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until a shade darker and add half to most of them to the batter, if desired.
3. mix the wet ingredients–oil, water, vinegar, and vanilla–into a small bowl. add into wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
4. grease two 9″ cake pans, or one 9″ x 13″ loaf pan, then line the bottoms and sides with parchment paper (you made need to use two separate pieces–one for the bottoms and one for the sides). divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake at 350 F (175 C) for 35 – 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry.
for the frosting:
1. combine cream cheese, margarine, and sour cream in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. stir in maple syrup and vanilla.
2. add sugar one cup at a time, continuing to beat, until the desired consistency is achieved (it should be thick enough to coat the sides of the cake). add nutmeg if desired.
1. allow cake to cool for ten minutes before removing from cake pans (the parchment paper should make this easy–if you didn’t use any and your cakes are stuck, just flip the pans upside down and wait) and allow to cool completely before frosting. top with the remaining toasted nuts.
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. sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. add vegetable oil. gradually add water until all of the flour comes together in a soft dough–you may need more or less than ½ cup. knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
2. wash and dry the herbs, then roughly chop them. mix with (optional) cheese in a mixing bowl and season with salt.
3. divide dough into golf-ball-sized portions. using a rolling pin, roll one portion out into a circle–you can do this by placing your rolling pin in the center of the dough and pushing outward, repeating the motion as you move in a circle. the dough should be very thin but not transparent.
4. spread herb mixture on one half of the dough circle and optionally top with about a tablespoon of vegan margarine.
5. fold the remaining dough over the filling and close by pressing the dough together or by folding and crimping the dough like a Cornish pasty. repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
6. heat an ungreased pan over medium heat and cook qutabi on both sides until golden brown. brush each qutab with melted margarine before setting it aside.
Shirin Plov (Azerbaijani rice pilaf with dried apricots, raisins, and prunes)
recipe under the cut!
2 cups dried basmati rice
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter or non-dairy margarine
large pinch of high-quality saffron
3 tbsp salt
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup prunes
a few flour tortillas (as a substitute for qazmaq, for frying)
for the rice:
1. rinse the rice several times in cold water until the water comes out mostly clear–this will get rid of excess starch and prevent the rice from sticking.
2. dissolve a few teaspoons of salt in enough water to cover the rice and soak the rice for at least a few hours, or overnight.
3. strain rice and cook according to package directions, then rinse to get rid of excess salt.
for the dried fruit:
1. melt 3 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons of water in a pan over medium heat. add the raisins, apricots, and prunes. cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until the fruit becomes a bit plumper.
for the saffron infusion:
1. place a large pinch of saffron in the bottom of a small glass. pour 2 tablespoons of just-boiled water over the saffron and let soak for a few minutes until the water turns orange.
to prepare the pilaf:
1. mix the dried fruit into the rice, leaving some aside to top the dish with.
2. melt a cup of butter. place about ¼ of the rice into a large pot and spread it into an even layer, then drizzle ¼ cup of butter over it. repeat three times with the rest of the rice and butter, then top with the saffron infusion.
3. poke some holes in the surface of the rice with a chopstick or the handle of a spoon to vent. cover and cook on low heat for an hour.
1. plate the pilaf in a large dish and top with the remaining fruit.
2. cut out flour tortillas into shapes as desired (triangles are popular) and fry them in a lightly oiled pain over medium heat, flipping once, until golden brown. use tortillas for topping and keep more on the side, for serving.
2 cans coconut cream (try to find one without additives–this will make cracking easier)
3 tbsp red curry paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
¼ cup basil, chopped
¼ cup cilantro
1. cut the eggplant into cubes about one inch in diameter (they will shrink as you remove moisture). coat the cubed eggplant in the salt, turmeric, and coriander, and spread it on a large platter lined with at least two layers of paper towels. cover the eggplant with more paper towels and with something flat and heavy (such as a weight on top of a cutting board) to pull moisture out. leave for about 30 minutes.
3. open one can of coconut milk and scoop out just the cream–it should form a solid, white layer on the top. heat the cream on high until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the fat in the cream starts to separate out from the oil. (if this doesn’t happen, which is possible depending on what kind of coconut milk you used, just add some coconut oil to the pan and you’re good to go.)
decrease the heat to medium-low and add the curry paste to the coconut cream. fry for 5-10 minutes, until you can see coloured oil start to separate out.
5. add the liquid from the first can of coconut cream, the other can of coconut cream, the brown sugar, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, and another teaspoon of salt. taste and adjust spices.
6. add three cups of water and one cup of lentils and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are nearly cooked. add more water ¼ cup at a time if necessary.
7. add eggplant, along with basil and cilantro if desired, and continue to simmer until the eggplant is soft and the lentils are cooked.