The Maghreb - Chapter II

The term "couscous" refers both to the dry, uncooked semolina pellets themselves and to the dish of light, fluffy steamed grains topped by stew.
The Arabic word 'kuskus' comes from the Berber 'seksu', which points to the dish's presence in North Africa before the arrival of Arab Muslims to the area.
The upper pot of the couscousier, the kiskas, has tiny holes punched in the bottom, and nests snugly atop the lower pot , in which the stew of meat and vegetables, is gently simmered.  Steam from the sauce in the lower pot passes through the holes in the upper one and cooks the couscous, causing the grains to swell, lighten, and absorb the tempting aroma of the stew.

Berber couscous, which is found mostly in the rugged mountain ranges of North Africa, is sometimes made with barley, or even corn. It is usually the dish at its most basic and often its most delicious.  The Moroccans have a reputation for subtly spiced couscous dishes that occasionally feature exotic ingredients such as pigeons or dates.  Tunisians are said to do away with such niceties and opt for blazing hot couscous liberally spiced with peppers.  Algerians, at the heart of the Maghreb, pride themselves on the authenticity of their unpretentious, robust couscous, while Libyans, at the eastern edge of the region, developed a variation that uses millet rather than the usual durum wheat semolina as its base.


The word 'tagine' refers not only to a popular dish in North African cuisine, but also to the earthenware pot used to make it. The tagine pot is almost like a mini-oven in itself.  Shaped almost like a vase, the bottom is round, much like a skillet. The top continues up, like a coned smokestack with a wide mouth. This keeps the right amount of heat inside.
They are used to make what is essentially a meaty stew. Spiced meats (usually lamb, the meat of choice in Morocco) and plenty of vegetables (and sometimes fruit) are placed inside the tagine and very slowly cooked over a charcoal fire. 

Moroccans use mortal & pestle combination to guarantee their spices burst with flavor. This tool allows them to grind and mash garlic, fresh spices and dried herbs by hand.

Potatoes Stew

2 pounds meat (beef or lamb)
2 pounds potatoes
Olive oil
1 large can tomato sauce
1 medium onion
1 small spoon tomato paste
½ small spoon chili pepper
½ small spoon turmeric
½ small spoon allspice
½ small spoon salt
½ pound sweet green peppers

Chop the onions and cook with a drizzle of olive oil till onions turn translucent. Cut the meat into the desired size pieces and cook with the onions and olive oil till the meat turns brown. Add chili pepper, turmeric to the meat / onions and mix.  Add to the mix the tomato sauce, tomato paste, sweet peppers (cut into ½ inch size), a cup of water and cook on a medium heat till boiling point. Cut the potatoes into halves, or quarters and add to the meat mix and bring to a boil. Add the salt to the stew and cook in a low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes or till the meat is tenderly cooked. Serve on a small individual bowls with slices of Italian or French bread.


1/2 tea spoon baking powder
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup peeled almonds
¼ cup melted Ghee
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 lb. semolina 

In a mixing bowl mix the sugar with the yogurt . Add the semolina, and the baking powder and mix well.  Place the mixture and even it in a baking pan that has been greased with Ghee or vegetable shortening, and with a greased knife slice into rectangles, and sit a side for at least 4 to 6 hours.
Preheated the oven till temperature reaches 350 F and bake till color turns to golden yellow. Paste one almond on the center of each piece, and with a knife go over the slicing lines and re-slice again, then return to oven and bake again till color turns golden light brown. Remove from oven, set aside and let to cool off. Pour the lemon syrup evenly on the top. After Basboosa absorbs the syrup, use a spatula to scoop it of the baking pan and serve. 

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1small spoon lemon juice
Mix the water with the sugar and cook till sugar is dissolved and turns a little bit thick. Add lemon juice then remove from heat. Pour over your basboosa

Tagine with Lamb

1/2- 1 lb. lamb on the bone
2 medium onions (or shallots) sliced thinly
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1 Tbs. cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4-5 threads of saffron (soaked in 1/4 cup hot water
for 10 minutes to release flavor and color)
Olive oil

In a medium-sized saucepan heat 2-3 Tbs of olive oil over high flame; add the onion and lamb to brown until the onions are soft and transparent; add the spices except for the cinnamon; reduce the head and add 1/2 - 1 cup of water, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until meat is tender; add more water if necessary and salt and spices to taste; add cinnamon about 10 minutes before the end of cooking.

Chicken in Pastry
3 Pounds Chicken , cubed
3 Tabs Olive Oil
1/2 Teas Salt
1 Teas Pepper
1/4 Teas Turmeric
2 Sticks Cinnamon
1 Cup Water
2 Large Onion , chopped
1 Tab Butter
8 Large Spring Roll Wrappers
Put chicken, oil, salt, pepper, turmeric, saffron, ginger and cinnamon in a large pot. Saute 10 minutes. Add water and onions. Bring to a boil. Cover, simmer for 30 minutes. Butter a round baking dish, place 2 wrappers in the bottom, put 1/4 of the chicken mixture on the wrappers and cover with 1 wrapper. Prepare 3 more layer like the first one on top the pile, making sure to end with a wrapper. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Meat with Prunes
1 and ½ kg of mutton meat , cut into pieces
500 g of prunes, washed and swollen in water
100 g of blanched and fried almonds
2 middle onions
3 cloves of garlic
1 tabs granulated cinammon
1 coffee spoonful of granulated ginger
1 pinch of crushed natural safran
½ cup of sesame seed
5 tabs granulated sugar
1 teas salt

In a container, put the meat cuts , add salt, oil, spices, 1 cruched onion and garlic, mix, leave it to impregnate, then add water, cover container and cook for 20 min on a middle fire.  Take 2 soup ladles of sauce from the container to a saucepan, use that sauce to cook the prunes, when almost cooked, add 3 tabs sugar and 1 tab cinammon, allow to simmer.

Add meat, the second crushed onion, sprinkle with 2 tabs sugar and finish cooking (15 min), mix frequently.  Blanch, fry and drain almonds, grill the sesame seed slightly in a dry shallowpan. Serve meat and prunes in a plate, water them with sauce and decorate with fried almonds and sesame.


Ghoriba aka Macaroons

7 beaten eggs
250 g of granulated sugar
1 sachet yeast
1 zest of shabby lemon
1 kg of hulled and chopped almonds
200 g of fine semolina
water of orange blossom
icing sugar

Mix the beaten eggs in a container, the granulated sugar, the yeast and the zest of lemon. Add little by little the chopped almonds and the semolina. Work this mixture energetically until getting a soft dough.

Dampen the hands with the water of orange blossom, remove thick part like a walnut of dough, make a ball of it and flatten it very slightly .put it on the bottom of icing sugar. Arrange the balls on an oiled plate, sugary face toward the high. Bake for 20 - 25 min.

Sfinj - Doughnuts

1/2 kg (17.6 oz.) flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 ½ tablespoons dry yeast or 25 g (0.9 oz.) fresh (moist) yeast

1/2 cup oil

1 egg

1 - 1 ½ cups lukewarm water

1 packet baking powder

1/4 cup water

Oil for frying

Confectioner's sugar for serving


In a bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar, yeast, oil, egg and 1.5 cups water into a soft dough. Cover bowl with a towel and let the dough rise.  To the risen dough add baking powder and the extra 1/4 cup water. The dough should become thinner. 
Again, cover bowl with a towel and let the dough rise. Heat oil in a pot (deep fry). Wet hands and take a handful of dough. Make a holde in its center and drop it into the boiling oil. Fry until doughnut turns golden brown. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and serve.
Green Beans
1 lb fresh green beans
4 cups water, salted
3 Tbsp peanut oil
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp slivered almonds
Clean and trim green beans. Simmer in lightly salted water until just tender, about 30-45 minutes. Drain and put in serving dish. Put remaining ingredients (except almonds) in a saucepan over medium heat and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add the almonds and stir briefly to coat. Pour the oil mixture over the green beans and toss gently until beans are thoroughly coated. Serve warm
Lamb Sausage
3 lb. lean lamb trim
1 Tbsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 1/2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 c. currants
1/2 c. pomegranate juice
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
hog casings for stuffing

Grind lamb trimmings once through a meat grinder's 1/4-inch plate. Mix together salt, curry powder, black pepper, cinnamon, thyme, currants, pomegranate juice and minced garlic. Pour seasonings over meat and mix well with your hands. Rinse hog casings well in cold running water. Stuff meat mixture into casing and twist or tie into 5-inch lengths.

Wrapped Meatballs

100g/4oz minced lamb
1 large onion, chopped
2 teas Ral el Hanout
2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
2 tbsp sesame seeds
salt and pepper

2 tabsp Oil
20 lettuce leaves
10 mint leaves
10 coriander leaves
chili sauce dip 

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the meatball ingredients (apart from the cornflour) until well blended. Using damp hands, roll into 20 balls. Sprinkle the cornflour onto a work surface and roll the balls in it to lightly coat on all sides. Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot then fry the meatballs a few at a time over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until well browned. 
Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Allow cool a little.  Arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving platter then place a warm meatball on each lettuce leaf and top with a mint or coriander leaf and spear a cocktail stick through the centre to secure. Serve with the chili sauce to dip
6 cups flour
2-1/2 cups sesame seeds
3 cups blanched almonds
1-1/4 cups butter
1 tabsp cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
Powdered sugar

Brown the flour for 15-20 minutes in a dry pan over low heat. Transfer into a bowl, clean out the pan and put in the sesame seeds. Toast them lightly, then grind them to a powder with a mortar and pestle, and add it to the flour. Clean out the pan again, melt 1/4 cup of butter, and fry the almonds until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, reserving 1/4 cup for garnish. Pound the rest into a fine powder in a mortar and pestle or grind in a food processor. Add the ground almonds to the mixing bowl, add cinnamon . Stir well.

Melt one cup of butter in a saucepan, then add the honey and stir well. Make a well in the center of the flour, add the butter and honey, then stir vigorously until the flour has absorbed all of the liquid. Transfer to a serving platter, piling it into a cone shape. Garnish with the reserved toasted almonds. Traditionaly, it should be eaten with a spoon.

Eggpalnt Jam

3 md Eggplants (3 lb total)
7 tb Oil, olive
3 Garlic cloves; minced
2 ts Paprika, sweet
1 1/2 ts Pepper, Cayenne or
1/8 ts Harissa
Pepper; freshly ground
3 -to 4 tb Lemon juice, fresh
1 tb Parsley; chopped
3 Lemon wedges or
3 Tomato wedges

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the stems off the eggplants. Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, peel the skin in 1/2 inch wide strips vertically down each eggplant so you get a striped effect. Slice each eggplant horizontally into 1/2 inch slices. Place in a colander and salt each slice. Let stand 30 minutes, then rinse well and pat dry with paper towels.

Brush a baking sheet with 3 tablespoons of the oil. Lightly brush the eggplant slices with 2 tablespoons oil and place in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until the slices are light golden brown on both sides.

Transfer the eggplant to a bowl and, using a fork or potato masher, mash with the garlic, paprika, cumin, water and cayenne. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Add the mashed eggplant and fry very slowly, turned occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the moisture evaporates. Stir in the lemon juice and cook 1 minute longer. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Place the eggplant on a platter and garnish with parsley and lemon or tomato wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature. This eggplant spread has a jamlike consistency. It is made all over North Africa, but this version, with garlic, cumin and lemon juice is one of the most flavorful. Serve it with warm country-style bread or pita.

Carrots with Coriander
1 1/2 teas coriander seeds
1 teas caraway seeds
2 tabs olive oil
2 pounds medium carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
Warm a large nonreactive skillet over moderate heat. Add the coriander and caraway seeds and cook, shaking the pan, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Empty the spices onto a plate to cool. Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the spices to a powder.
In the same skillet, warm the olive oil over high heat. Add the carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the spices and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. Transfer to a large shallow dish. Serve warm or at room temperature
Vegetable & Meat Soup
250 gr' calf meat
2 carots
2 turnips
2 potatoes
2 branches of celery
3 tomatoes
1 bouquet of parsley
1 onion
1 tab oil
1 teaspepper
pinch of safran

Peel and cut vegetables into little pieces (except tomatoes), put inside a boiler ,add the meat cuts and the vegetables (except for tomatoes, parsley,crushed onion,oil, salt, pepper and safran),  add 8 cups water, and cook until its boiled. Wash tomatoes and plunge them for 1 min into boiled water before peeling them, crush the pulp with a fork , put the tomatoes in the boiler and mix, cover the boiler and leave to cook on a medium heat for an hour. 


The maghreb - Chapter I