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Looking for Morrocan and Persian Dishes and Dinner Menus

I am hosting January dinner club at my place and since the hosts suggest the food to make for the next dinner, I will be making this suggestion in two weeks. We are a brand new dinner club and so far had Italian and Mexican nights, German dinner is next. I would love to go to either North Africa or Middle East in January. Please share menu ideas, recipes and source of recipes - cookbooks, blogs, etc. - for these regions and your thoughts about the food. I have a Le Creuset tajine that would be great to use if we go the Maghreb way. I have hardly cooked from these cuisines, hence the attraction, and love to expand my horizons.

Today I took out Copeland Marks "The Great Book of Couscous" out of the library and have been reading it this evening. I welcome any thoughts and experiences that you could share about the book.

As always, many thanks for your collective wisdom:)

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  1. herby, i just posted a non-authentic/trad.moroccan couscous here:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/814666

    also, here are 2 recipes you might like for hors d'oeuvre:

    MINI ROASTED POTATOES W/ MOROCCAN FILLING 1 1/2 c. or 3c.

    X1 // X2

    1/3 C // 2/3 C Warm Chicken Stock

    2 C // 4 C Toasted Croutons from rustic bread

    ½ C // 1 C Almonds, skin on or off, toasted and ground fine

    1/2 c. // 1 c. Pine nuts , toasted and ground fine

    2 // 4 Minced Garlic Cloves

    3T // 6 T Lemon Juice

    2 T // 4 T Olive Oil

    kosher salt and pepper to taste

    25 // 50 Small 1 1/2"-2" creamer potatoes,any color

    Soak croutons in liquid til soft. Place all ingredients in blender or cuisinart and puree. Should be thick enough to be piped.

    Cut potatoes in half . Slice a thin bit off each rounded end so the half potato will sit flat. Scoop out top 1/3- 1/2 of each half with a melon baller. Toss potato halves in oil, salt and pepper.In single layer on parchment-lined sheet pan, roast potatoes at 400 degrees until they are tender when pierced (7-10 min.) Let potatoes cool (can do one day ahead). Pipe in (or spoon in) Moroccan Filling. Roast again until filling is slightly crisp on outside, 5-10 min. at 350 degrees.

    (Separately toss trimmings and scoopings with oil and s and p and roast for a little reward!

    )

    This filling is, when thinner, a Tarator Sauce, often served with fish in Morocco.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    TODD ENGLISH'S MOROCCAN EGGPLANT CAPONATA 12 c.

    5 lb Eggplant, not peeled

    6 1/2 T Kosher Salt

    3/4 C Olive Oil

    15 Garlic cloves, Minced

    5 Small Red Onions Minced

    1 1/4 C Golden Raisins

    2 T Fresh Minced peeled Ginger

    1/4 c. Capers Chopped

    5C Chopped Canned Plum Tomatoes(Pastene best)

    2 1/2 C OJ (frozen is fine)

    5T Madras Curry Powder (Sun brand preferred)

    4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper

    1/4 c. Honey

    1/2 c. + 1/8 c. Balsamic Vinegar

    just less than 1 c. ea Basil and cilantro minced

    1/2 c. + 1/8 c. ea Fine Chopped Scallions and Minced Flat Parsley

    5T Fresh Rosemary or 2 1/2 T dried rosemary

    Salt eggplant cubes in colander, let sit and drain 1/2 hr. or more.Pat dry, sear quickly in hot oil til golden. Remove from pan and set aside.Add more oil to pan,Saute Onions in hot oil until soft; add garlic, saute a couple minutes more. Add raisins through honey ,stirring well, and reduce by 50% . Add eggplant and cook over medium to high heat until soft and chunky. Remove from heat, add remaining ingredients, adjust seasonings. Serve room temp.

    Approximately 12 C.

    **This is great on crostini or bruschetta , as a side dish , or as part of an antipasto w/ sliced meats and cheeses.

    1. Search this area for fesenjan and bademjan, two excellent Persian stews, particularly if you have access to pomegranate molasses.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Joebob

        Is one of these the stew with pomogranite molasses and walnuts? My brother and sil served that a while ago. She is persian. I loved it and was raving about it and they were modestly accepting compliments. Turns out they bought a bottled sauce from our one persian grocery.

        I'd love to know more about how to make it from scratch. (Meanwhile, I need to get to that grocey for a bottle of the sauce!)

        1. re: karykat

          A search at this site for "fesenjan recipe" turned up 10 hits. The second will get you started to adjusting your own. But the bottled pommegranite molasses is invaluable and worth seeking out.

      2. Herby, The COTM for April 2007 was Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon. Here's the master thread which, as you know, links to all the reporting threads...
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/387069
        http://www.amazon.com/Arabesque-Taste...

        Then, during September 2010, we revisited Arabesque but also cooked from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food also by Roden. Here's that master thread...
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/731358
        http://www.amazon.com/New-Book-Middle...

        I'm sure you'll find many ideas for your menu in those two books. Personally, I thought the books were absolutely wonderful and the recipes very easy to accomplish. My favorite is The New Book OMEF but both books are great.

        1. Scroll down a bit on this page and you'll find Persian and Moroccan recipes

          http://www.greenbeansnmore.com/green-...

          1. It would be helpful for you to pick up a book - purchase or library - by Paula Wolfert; she is considered the authority on Moroccan cuisine by a westerner. Very informative!

            I love Moroccan cuisine; taught a couple classes here at PCC cooks, the largest cooking school in Seattle area a few years ago. Don't have time today, but will locate my recipe for Chicken tagine with preserved lemons and prunes, served with roasted root vegetable couscous. Wonderful for a group. Well liked at many dinner parties I have given and by my students as well.
            Great excuse to make homemade preserved lemons, which I always keep around, and like togive as gifts. Easy to make and delish!

            10 Replies
            1. re: gingershelley

              Gingershelley, I would love your tagine recipe; do you have root veg couscous too? Such comforting flavourful winter dishes. I have preserved lemons in the fridge too:)

              I've looded through Paula Wolfert book and Middle East cooking and she does inspire me for some reason. I'll try Claudia Roden if my library has it - I have her Food of Spain and like it.

              1. re: herby

                Herby,
                I am awaiting the return of my computer tower from my BF (using a borrowed one from him now), with all my cooking class recipes on mine; will post both recipes for you in next few days when I get it back. Sorry for the delay:)

                1. re: herby

                  For fun, I am including here, Herby, my recipe for preserved lemons.
                  I think it is a nifty short-cut trick to freeze the lemon. I make these in batches and give as gifts. Easy, inexpensive in winter when citrus fruits are in season.

                  Meyer lemons are another whole dimension to try; preserved Meyer Lemon viniagrette is a revelation; delicious for a 'ceasar' style dressing. Just cut out the salt of Ceasar, but don't skimp on the anchovy and use preserved lemon for lemon juice. Yum!
                  ---------------------------------------------
                  Preserved Lemons

                  Preserved lemons are used in a variety of ways in Moroccan cuisine adding a tart lemony tang to salads, meat dishes and some condiments. If you like sour or pickled foods, these will become a staple in your kitchen! they are delicious chopped finely and added to salad dressings, dips or used as a key ingredients in marinades or roasting rubs for vegetables and meats.
                  ______________________________________________________________________
                  2 Organic whole Lemons
                  1-11/2 Cups fresh lemon Juice (juice of approximately 4 large or 8 small lemons)
                  Kosher Salt or Course Natural Sea Salt

                  Optional: Bay Leaves, Black Peppercorns,

                  Time: 10 minutes prep, plus an overnight in the freezer, and 5 days minimum of waiting time before use.

                  Cut the whole lemons the long way almost through from point down to almost the other pointed end, turn 90 degrees and repeat, creating four quarters that are joined at one end. The lemon juice will be used to cover the cut lemons after the next step is completed

                  Take each of the vertically cut lemons and pack the cuts and the cavity you created with about 1 Tbsp Salt (as much as will fit without splitting the lemon) rubbing it into the flesh. Place the cut lemons and any juices that accumulate on the cutting board and place in a non-reactive glass or plastic container. Freeze overnight. The lemon will soften from freezing, speeding up the preserving process.

                  The next day, transfer each frozen lemon to a clean jar (or jars) with a tight fitting non-reactive lid that will just hold the lemons. If desired, add a bay leaf, a couple of peppercorns and a few flakes of red pepper if you would like spicy preserved lemons.

                  Add the fresh lemon juice to the jar to cover the lemon. Leave the jar on the counter for 5 days, and turn the jar upside down each day to redistribute ingredients. At the end of 5 days, you may use the lemons, but they will improve if kept in the refrigerator for an additional week. They will keep for up to six months (lemons will darken over time). Each time you use a lemon or part of one, add fresh juice and a little additional salt to the jar to refresh.

                  1. re: gingershelley

                    ginger - What are your best uses for preserved lemon. I see that you use it in your eggplant dish. What are your other favorite things. We are thinking of trying it.

                    1. re: karykat

                      Hi karykat,
                      I have posted here my recipe for making preserved lemons; whether you make yours or buy them ( homemade are much fresher tasting),

                      You can use them in nearly any recipe calling for lemon juice; especially savory preps.
                      The key to preserved lemons is that the LEMON comes on more strongly due to the salt as a driver of flavor.

                      I LOVE them as a squeeze/ put a quarter of one in a roasted lemon and a squeeze on the outside; said alt. ceasar dressing on this thread - use preserved lemon guts to replace lemon juice/salt in a ceasar dressing (note: this is very different than classic use of preserved lemons; peel used, insides thrown out. I find that BOTH have value, depending on classic use or more creative).
                      Also delicious if you chop the peel and mix with roasted brasica's, like broccoli or cauliflower; yummy...
                      Make some, and let us know what you like them with!

                      1. re: gingershelley

                        Thanks much. We're thinking of these as gifts and will experiment to see what we like them with Appreciate your thoughts.

                    2. re: gingershelley

                      Yes! Exactly what I was going to suggest!
                      When I was done putting them into jars, I had kosher salt and lemon juice all over my hands... instant facial!

                      1. re: gingershelley

                        That just went straight to Evernote - thanks!

                      2. re: herby

                        herby,

                        This is the starter salad that I frequently served ahead of the Tagine, or other Moroccan dishes, and it is a zesty and refreshing start that wakes up the palate for all the flavors to come. Delish on it's own as well.
                        ------------------------------------------------
                        Salad of Eggplant and Tomato with Preserved Lemon

                        This is not a salad in the American sense – but throughout Middle Eastern and North African cuisine, this would be a typical side dish or starter to a meal. Serve with Pita bread for mopping up the flavorful juices!
                        ___________________________________________________________
                        2 large Eggplants, peeled and diced
                        Course sea salt or kosher salt for salting the eggplant
                        3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
                        ¼ Cup Olive oil (labeled for medium-high heat use)
                        1 teaspoon of fine sea salt
                        ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
                        ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
                        1 Cup of seeded and chopped tomatoes (about 2 large ripe tomatoes)
                        1 large fresh organic lemon, juiced to make about 3 tablespoons of juice
                        ½ of a Preserved Lemon, chopped very finely (rind and all!)
                        1-2 teaspoons honey or barley-malt syrup (to taste)
                        Extra-Virgin olive oil for serving (about 1 tablespoon)
                        1 Large Lemon, seeded and sliced
                        Salt and drain the eggplant for ½ hour in a colander to draw out bitterness and moisture, rinse the eggplant and pat dry with a tea towel.
                        In a large skillet, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat and sauté the eggplant for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and continue to cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the eggplant is beginning to stick and fall apart.
                        Reduce the heat, and add the tomatoes, salt pepper and cumin to the eggplant-onion mixture and cook on low for 5 additional minutes
                        Stir in the lemon juice, and preserved lemon. Add honey or syrup to balance the taste to your liking. It should be fairly tart and bright tasting.
                        Refrigerate until cold. Serve eggplant salad on a platter drizzling the top of the salad with olive oil and a few grind of pepper before serving, garnished with the lemon slices.
                        Serves 8 as a side dish or first course.

                        1. re: herby

                          Last, but certainly not least, is the CHARMOULA SAUCE!

                          This goes with everything on the table. Make lot's...
                          ------------------------
                          Charmoula Sauce
                          This sauce will become a favorite, and is delicious served with fish, sautéed tofu or on burgers of all kinds!
                          4 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted and ground
                          2 teaspoons coriander seed, toasted and ground
                          1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
                          1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
                          2 tablespoons finely minced fresh garlic (about 4 cloves)
                          1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
                          1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
                          ½ cup fresh lemon juice
                          ¾ cup finely chopped cilantro (about 1 bunch)
                          ½ cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 bunch)

                          ½-3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

                          In the bowl of a food processor, combine cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

                          Pulse 2 or 3 times to blend.

                          Add olive oil slowly through the feed tube until an emulsion forms. Add parsley and cilantro and pulse to incorporate. Be careful to leave a little texture.

                          Serve with Roasted Vegetable Couscous

                          Notes: Paprika in Spain and North Africa is usually smoked. It comes in sweet, hot and bittersweet. These recipes call for sweet paprika. You can substitute Hungarian paprika, but the results will not have the slightly smoky flavor which is usually found in Moroccan dishes.