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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.

                      3. Thank you everyone for your very helpful replies.

                        I will try to get one of Roden's books from the library, Gio, and will definitely check the COTM threads.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: herby

                          Good news... found the file for class on a travel drive.
                          Here is the chicken Tagine;
                          Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon, Olives and Prunes
                          Aromatic and complex, this chicken dish is typically cooked in a Tagine, or covered pot common to Morocco. You can use a large high sided stove and oven proof casserole. This will fill your home with a wonderful aroma as it bakes!
                          ________________________________________________________________
                          1 Large Whole organic free-range chicken, about 4-5 pounds, liver reserved
                          1 Fresh lemon, seeded and juiced
                          Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
                          ½ cup freshly chopped cilantro
                          ½ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley , +1 tablespoon reserved for garnish
                          2 tablespoons finely minced fresh garlic (about 4 cloves)
                          2 tablespoons minced fresh peeled ginger
                          ¼ tsp. saffron threads
                          1 preserved lemon, seeds removed, chopped finely (rind and all!)
                          1/3 cup Virgin Olive oil (labeled for medium high heat cooking)
                          3 Cups thinly sliced onions (about 2 large onions)
                          1 tablespoon good-quality sweet smoked paprika (see notes)
                          6 plump dried prunes, pits removed, cut into quarters
                          ½ cup pitted fruity green Mediterranean olives, such as Ascolane, or Picholine

                          Rinse chicken and pat dry. Remove any excess fat. Reserve the neck and other giblets for another use if you like. Squeeze lemon juice all over the chicken, including the cavity and under the skin of the breast. Sprinkle lightly with salt and fresh pepper and allow to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

                          Preheat the oven to 375◦F.

                          Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and pat dry on the outside with a clean tea towel or paper towels. Put the kettle on to boil to dissolve the saffron.

                          Dissolve saffron in 1/3 cup boiling water and set aside.

                          Soak the prunes in ½ cup warm water while you begin the chicken preparation.

                          Heat a large flameproof casserole with high sides (or a Tagine) over medium high heat, When pan is hot, add olive oil and the whole chicken, breast side down. Shaking pan occasionally, brown the chicken on this side, then carefully turn over. Brown on this side, and turning the chicken with tongs, brown the sides as well. This will take about 15- 20 minutes total.

                          Add the cilantro, parsley, garlic, ginger and preserved lemons, and the saffron water. Turn the chicken about in the mixture as it begins to simmer, and be sure to get some of mixture inside the cavity. When all is blended, add the onions, pushing down around the chicken and allow the onions to wilt down, stirring occasionally as you bring the casserole to a full simmer again.

                          Transfer pan to the oven and bake for one hour occasionally basting chicken with juices and herb and onion mixture in the pan.

                          Remove pan from oven and allow to rest on the stove top for 10 minutes to allow the chicken to cool enough for you to safely handle it.

                          Carefully transfer chicken to a clean poultry cutting board.

                          Drain off any excess fat on top of mixture in casserole or tagine.

                          Add reserved chicken liver to the baking pan, mashing into sauce in the dish. Add the olives and prunes and stir well. Cut the chicken into 8-10 serving pieces with shears and a sharp knife and return to sauce in casserole, turning to coat.

                          Put back in the oven for 15 minutes to blend flavors, cook the liver and to bring to serving temperature.

                          Serve on a large platter covered with the sauce and sprinkled with chopped parsley.

                          1. re: herby

                            Here is the Roasted Veg & Couscous recipe;
                            Couscous with Winter Vegetables and Charmoula sauce

                            For this dish, we specify vegetables and sizes, rather than ‘cups’ as this is a very flexible recipe – feel free to experiment with other combinations or additions as a Moroccan home cook would. The essentials are the eggplant, the spices, and the accompanying Charmoula sauce!

                            2 cups quick cooking whole wheat couscous
                            1 large red bell pepper
                            1 large eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1 inch cubes
                            1 large zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
                            1 Rutabaga, peeled and cut in large dice about 1”
                            1 Turnip, peeled and cut in large cubes about 1”
                            3 tablespoon of freshly chopped peeled ginger
                            2 cups of coarsely chopped yellow or sweet onions, about 2 large
                            ¼ cup Virgin Olive oil
                            1 teaspoon Course Sea salt
                            ½ teaspoon. Turmeric
                            1 teaspoon sweet smoked Paprika
                            11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
                            freshly ground black pepper to taste
                            3 Tbsp Flat leafed parsley, finely chopped

                            Place all the prepared vegetables except the pepper in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle the ginger and garlic over the vegetables, drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat. Roast in the center of the oven for approximately 20 minutes, stir vegetables well, scraping up any that are sticking, and add a little more oil if needed. Sprinkle the spices over the vegetables and continue to roast for an additional 20-30 minutes until all are tender and browning at the edges.
                            Meanwhile, burn the outside of the pepper over a naked gas flame or on a barbecue grill. When the skin is blackened, place the pepper into a paper or plastic bag and let stand for 10 minutes to steam. Rub the pepper on the outside to remove all the pepper skin. Peeling can be done under running water as well, but washes away some of the vitamins. Dice the pepper and add to the vegetables when they are finished roasting.
                            Note: You can omit blackening the pepper and roast with the other vegetables if you wish.
                            While vegetables are cooking, soak the couscous in cold water for 10 minutes to loosen the grains. This helps keep it from becoming lumpy when cooked. Drain Well.
                            About 15 minutes before you wish to serve, Heat 2 cups water and 1 cup of vegetable stock to boiling.Add the drained couscous and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Turn out in to a large rimmed platter. Top with vegetables and serve accompanied by charmoula sauce on the side to add to taste.
                            Serves 8 as part of a meal, or 4 as a vegetarian main course

                            Note: I serve the Tagine and the Roasted Veg on the Couscous, and the two big platters usually is enough for 6 for dinner, with some Veg left over. If you have a larger group, you might want to double the tagine, but you would certainly need two ovens for all of that.

                          2. I've had something like saffron roasted Cornish hens, but they were pieced, grilled, and served with blackened tomatoes on currant-almond studded rice. Still, this seems appetizing: http://mypersiankitchen.com/roast-cor...

                            That sort of rice (recipes abound online, and I've used other fruit like sultana raisins or dried cherries instead of currants; nuts are obviously largely variable) really is best finished with butter, and for dessert I'm delighted by faloodeh. It may sound a little odd but is delectable with fresh lemon juice and chopped pistachios: http://www.grouprecipes.com/97344/fal...

                            I have seen a number of variants on cucumber-tomato salads that are lightly dressed, as sides. The spice sumac is your friend too, if you can find it at a good store.

                            1. Years ago, an Algerian friend's mother was visiting from home, and she made us dinner. One dish was this fabulous cold carrot salad. I'm not generally a big carrot fan, but these were superb. I asked for the recipe, but her mother was one of those cooks who never measures, just throws things together--and that, plus the fact that she didn't know much English, and I knew even less French, made it pretty well impossible for me to write down anything useful. I hunted for a long time, and this is the closest I've been able to come to recreating it. I can't remember the original source, but I've tweaked it quite a bit to my own tastes.

                              Moroccan Carrot Salad

                              1-1/2 lb. whole baby carrots
                              1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
                              3 cloves garlic, crushed
                              1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
                              1-1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
                              1/4 cup white wine vinegar
                              1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
                              salt
                              freshly-ground pepper

                              Steam the carrots for 5 – 8 minutes, until tender.

                              Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and spices and cook, stirring, until fragrant.

                              Stir in the carrots and cook, stirring, until well coated in the oil mixture.

                              Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar and cilantro. Season well to taste with salt and pepper.

                              Cool to room temperature before serving, or refrigerate for serving later.

                              I'll often serve it with this Grilled Lemon-Harissa Chicken http://www.food.com/recipe/grilled-le.... You could probably do this with cut-up chicken on skewers, as an appetizer, too.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: MsMaryMc

                                That sounds absolutely fantastic! I am saving your recipe. Thanks!

                              2. I've served a nice North African menu consisting of a first course of three dishes from Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food, Lettuce and Orange Salad (p. 79), Eggplants in a Spicy Honey Sauce (p. 82), and Roasted Red Peppers with Preserved Lemons and Capers (p. 84), followed by a chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives that is very good and great for dinner parties because you put it all together and marinate overnight, then just cook it before serving. The recipe calls for cooking in the oven, which is super easy, but you could easily enough adapt it to the stovetop and use your tagine. I have posted it before, here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6501...

                                1. Many-many thanks everyone for wonderful recipes and helpful suggestions! I bought The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden and have been enjoying reading through it. I am going to try pretty much all of your recipes and some of Roden's in addition to the ones recommended by Caitlin. MsMary's carrots sound great and so do OpinionatedChef's appertisers. Gingershelley, thank you for digging out and sharing all these yummy recipes - I will definitely try your method of making preserved lemons.

                                  I will keep you posted on our dinner which is a couple months away and on my pursuit of Morrocan dishes.

                                  Cheers!

                                  4 Replies
                                    1. re: herby

                                      this part of the world does some wonderful things w/ starches . does anyone have a recipe for the Persian rice dish w/ potatoes on the bottom of the pot- that get crusty and are served w/ @ rice portion? i was told it was a special occasion dish (long ago, made in a home).

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                        I don't have a recipe for it but have had it, courtesy of my sil's Persian mother. The potatoes got nice and crusty.

                                        Also, rice was made so there was a crusty rice layer that was served over the rice.

                                        Another thing in some of the special occasion rices she made: barberries that she obtained from Iran. Reddish purple tart little berries that were really good.

                                        1. re: karykat

                                          yes, there is a persian 7 treasures rice dish that has those barberries, plus orange and pistachios +++. love it!

                                          here are some recipes for the persian rice and potatoes dish- that i just found:

                                          http://sweetartichoke.com/2011/01/14/...

                                          this is better explained but i would add the saffron from the other recipe:

                                          http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...

                                          there are also some CH threads on it.

                                    2. When I get home from work, I'll give you the title of my favourite Moroccan cookbook that I have in my collection. What's excellent about it is that it's multi-regional and describes in manageable bites the whys and wherefores of what you're doing. This isn't to get all frou-frou on you ("oooh la la, the REGIONS of Morocco, dontchaknow!"), but the food you're gonna find on the coast is very, very different from the food you're gonna find in the desert.

                                      While you likely want to get good use out of your tajiniere, as you look through different cookbooks, keep one eye on the street food recipes. I've been to Morocco a couple times on extended trips and some of the most memorable recollections I have is the streetfood. Bits and pieces on skewers; bits and pieces in bowls: cumin and paprika and cinnamon and saffron. Homemade ras el hanout, emanating from your kitchen, making your entire house smell edible. Slices of beautiful b'steeya- a bitch to make, but few things as impressive coming out of the oven.

                                      Moroccan cooking is awesome- read up as much as you can about it from different sources and pile the best of them together for a good meal!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: biggreenmatt

                                        I was checking the thread last night in hope to see your book recommendation... Please send when you can:)

                                        1. re: herby

                                          This is the one right here:http://www.whitecap.ca/books/food-mor....

                                          The spices have been toned down for Western palettes, but compares very favourably to the food I actually ate in Morocco. The b'steeya recipe in particular is dead-on, though complicated- the kind of recipe you read a few times before starting. But it's the simple things in particular that are so good- the brochettes, the simple salads, the soups that bring back the best memories. And if you have the appetite to deep-fry, the savoury s'fenj doughnuts are to die for.

                                      2. My husband's best friend made kebabs for us one time using a recipe passed down from his father. Simple Persian cooking, but really good. Beef flap meat/skirt steak, curry powder, chopped onions, olive oil, salt and pepper...tiny bit of lemon juice if you want. Marinate for at least 8 hours. Skewer and cook over direct charcoal heat. Serve with grilled Roma tomatoes and grilled onions that have been mixed with olive oil and salt and pepper. He also made a salad of chopped Romaine, chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: attran99

                                          These kebabs sound very tasty; I live in apartment and can't grill but will keep these in mind when I am visiting my daughter's family where there is a grill:)

                                          1. re: herby

                                            An alternative to that problem is a George Foreman. You'll miss the smokiness. But the basic flavors are there.

                                          2. re: attran99

                                            There are also skewers made with ground meats that are good, too.

                                          3. I often serve a sort of generic Middle Eastern/Balkan meal when I have six or more guests; I serve it buffet and I like this cuisine because I can do every bit of it ahead of time, ALL of it. First a cold table of hummos, tabbouleh, zucchini sauteed in olive oil with lemon wedges, baba ganooj, fatoosh salad, sliced cucumbers in yogurt, stuffed vine leaves, sliced tomatoes, kalamata olives, Lebanese cheese, white bean salad, etc. Second course is a big pan of Moussaka, also Spanakorizo (cooked spinach and cooked rice half-and-half with lemon juice and cinnamon). If I have a really big crowd I add roast chicken or Koresh, a Persian stew of beef and eggplant seasoned with sour lemon. Dessert is homemade baklava, fruit sherbets, and medjool dates. I have to tell you that this cuisine is easy. I can't cook Asian for the life of me and I hit the target with Indian only about 30% the time but Middle Eastern cuisine is foolproof---just eat it in restaurants to see what you like then buy a cookbook (I like Claudia Roden's "A Book of Middle Eastern Food" and you'll be in business.

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: Querencia

                                              I also have a fake Middle Eastern meal that we really like. I season ground beef with salt, mint, cinnamon, dill, and lemon juice then make it into meatballs. Put these in baking dish and cover with mixture of canned tomato sauce and more mint, cinnamon, dill, and lemon juice. Add raw onions, peppers, and Roma tomatoes. Bake. Eat with rice.

                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                Here is the menu for a Moroccan dinner from my international cooking group: Appetizer: Grilled Eggplant in Honey and Spices
                                                Main Course: Moroccan Chicken with Dried Fruit and Olives
                                                Couscous
                                                Moroccan Fennel Salad
                                                Dessert: Coconut Cakes
                                                Mixed Melon Fruit Cup
                                                Beverage: Mint Tea
                                                I have recipes if you are interested in any of the above.

                                                1. re: Bethcooks

                                                  beth, if the coconut cakes have a different starch than flour (like couscous or semolina or farina) i'd love to see that recipe.thnx.

                                                  1. re: Bethcooks

                                                    Great menu! I would love fennel salad and coconut cakes recipes, please. Mint tea would be lovely to finish the meal but what about a cocktail? Is there a special one that is typically served in Morocco? And what kind of wiine to serve with dinner? I am trying to think about wine producers in the region and can't think of a country closer than Israel, Greece or Georgia. Any thoughts?

                                                    1. re: herby

                                                      Herby -

                                                      Here are ideas for beverages to accompany your meal

                                                      http://www.greenbeansnmore.com/middle...

                                                      1. re: Axalady

                                                        Thank you! Very informative - I will read through more carefully when I get home (at work right now).

                                                      2. re: herby

                                                        herby, i believe morocco is predominantly muslim, and muslims don't drink. so if authenticity were really important, you'd be serving no alcohol.

                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                          You are absolutely right, Chef - I was just hoping... Still remember a weddining I attended in Bangladesh where a special (but not very good) yogurt drink was served to tost the couple. Oh, well... But since we are a mini UN and everyone likes to have a drink, we will have some wine and maybe something Ouzo to start, a cocktail of sorts - need to research.

                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                            Well, there are Muslims and there are Muslims. Don't tell the the brewers (they brew terrible beer there) and the distillers of arak that Morocco's a dry country.

                                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                              didn't realize that. i guess i must have only met observant muslims.

                                                  2. Sorry to take so long to post recipes but have been out all day. Morocco is a Muslim country so no Moroccan wine suggestions but we did serve white wine.
                                                    COCONUT CAKES These are a sweetmeat much like a coconut fudge. Very easy to make. In a 2 quart saucepan combine 2 cups Grated Coconut, 3/4 cup evaporated milk, 2 cups sugar. Simmer gently to 238 degrees [soft ball stage]. Add 1 oz butter and 2 tablespoons lemon rind. Cool to room temperature in the pan. Beat as you would fudge until thick and glossy. Pour in a 8x8 inch pan lined with wax paper. Chill and cut into 1 inch squares. [I made these the day before]
                                                    MOROCCAN FENNEL SALAD
                                                    1 grated orange rind
                                                    3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
                                                    2 tablespoons limes or lemon juice
                                                    Salt and pepper to taste
                                                    3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
                                                    2 small fennel bulbs
                                                    1/2 red onion, sliced
                                                    6 radishes, thinly sliced
                                                    1 bunch watercress
                                                    aruga leaf
                                                    butter lettuce
                                                    Combine orange juice, lime juice, salt and pepper. Which in olive oil and set aside. Quarter the fennel bulbs lengthwise and slice thinly. Place in a bowl and add the sliced onions and radishes. Toss in the some of the dressing, then add the watrecrss and arugula. Toss in remainder of dressing. Serve on butter lettuce leaves.
                                                    MINT TEA 6 cup teapot. Pour boiling water into teapot, rinse and throw water away. Put in 3 heaping Tablespoons oolong tea, 2 heaping tablespoons dried mint leaves and 1/2 cup sugar. Fill teapot to brim with boiling water. Steep covered for 5 minutes. Stir and taste to see if it is sween enough. Strain and serve in juice size glasses. Some people liked this, some did not but it is authentic.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Bethcooks

                                                      Thank you for posting your recipes, Bethcooks! I did some research into drinks in Morocco and only arak keeps popping up. I was surprised to see that they sell it in my local liquor stores. So, I am thinking that we will start with Arak and move onto wine with dinner.

                                                        1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                          Very interesting - thank you for this information. I looked at our liquor site and there is a Moroccan wine available - surprise, surprise! - though not in my city. Need to call them to find whether it could be shipped.

                                                    2. Many thanks to all of you on the dinner suggestions! I thought that you would like to hear what we cooked and how we liked it; here is my report.

                                                      We made apertizers from the OpChef's suggestions - roasted stuffed potatoes were nice and eggplant caponata was outstanding; run, not walk, to get yourself an eggplant and make this dish - yum-O big time:)

                                                      Gingershelley's suggestions were good too - everyone loved the chicken tagine (the lamb one from allrecipes was OK, but no match) and charmouler sauce is a keeper for all kinds of meals, not just Moroccan. I am going to try your preserved lemon recipe as soon as I run out of my stash:)

                                                      Successful yummy dinner - thank you all!

                                                      Next stop is Spain and I can't wait to cook from the last Roden's book:)

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: herby

                                                        Herby, did you make my Chicken Tagine with prunes, then? It sounds like it since you made the Charmoula... that stuff is a keeper:) We, well, I since the BF doesn't like spicey stuff - more for me - use it on a lot of things.

                                                        Sounds like you had a lovely meal - glad it was a success!

                                                        Try making a viniagrette dressing with a little preserved lemon. Yummers!

                                                        1. re: herby

                                                          herby, so happy you liked the 2 recipes i posted! made my day!

                                                        2. Last week's NY Times magazine ran a story on pumpkin dishes. One was a Moroccan lamb/lentil/pumpkin/onion recipe that was fairly easy to make and good. It even survived a day without power in the fridge during Sandy, and tasted even better on reheating.

                                                          http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/12892/...