Fiery Cuisines Part 21 – Morocco

Fiery Cuisines Part 21 – Morocco

Andrew’s Essential Fiery Food Facts that a Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know

Part 27

Fiery Cuisines Part 21…… Morocco

I love Moroccan food, the vegie options, the beans, the spices the chillies…..mmmm

I hope you enjoy our recipes as much as I do

Morocco is located in the north-western corner of Africa. Morocco is slightly larger in area than Victoria, and its territory has three different regions. The northern coast along the Mediterranean Sea is made up of fertile land that rises to elevations of about 2,400 meters. The Atlas Mountains run between the Atlantic coast in the southwest to the Mediterranean Sea in the northeast. Finally, the semiarid area in the south and east known as the Western Sahara connects Morocco with the vast African Sahara Desert.

Morocco faces a problem with desertification. Desertification is the process where fertile land becomes barren and desert-like. Desertification may be caused by forces of nature, such as lack of rainfall or drought. Humans contribute to desertification when they clear away all the trees or allow their livestock to graze too much so that they eat away all plants. These practices leave no plants to hold the soil in place, so wind and rain can carry away the fertile topsoil. Morocco also has a problem with water pollution from oil spills, poor sewage treatment practices, and the use of strong pesticides.

In the northwest, agriculture in Morocco thrives. Except in years when there is severe drought, Moroccan farmers are able to supply the country with enough food.

Their traditions were over time influenced by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans, and particularly the Arabs, who came to Morocco in the 7th century AD after the death of the Prophet Mohammed. The Arabs brought new breads and other foods made from grains, introduced spices including Cinnamon, Ginger, Paprika, Saffron, Cumin, and Turmeric. To this day these spices are still used extensively in Moroccan food. Over time, these imported spices have been mixed with native many ingredients, like Saffron from Tiliouine, Mint and Olives from Meknes, Oranges and Lemons from Fez and Figs, Dates, Almonds and Argan from the South to produce the unique flavours seen in Moroccan cooking.

The Arabs also introduced sweet-and-sour cooking, which they had learned from the Persians, and were joined by the Moors from Andalusia in southern Spain between 1462-1615 who in turn have

influenced Moroccan cooking. The most famous is the pastilla, or bisteeya, a popular Pigeon or Chicken pie served at weddings and other parties, which is originally a Moorish dish. Nomadic Berbers were the first inhabitants of Morocco over two thousand years ago. They used local ingredients, such as Olives, Fig and Dates, to prepare Lamb and Poultry stews. Over time, traders and conquering nations introduced new food customs. Among them were the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans. However, the strongest influence on native cooking was the Arab invasion in the seventh century A.D.

In modern times, the French and the British made contributions to Moroccan cuisine Because it is Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in fish and seafood. Beef is not plentiful, so meals are usually built around Lamb or Poultry.

Flat, round Moroccan bread is eaten at every meal. The Moroccan national dish is the tajine, a Lamb or Poultry stew. Other common ingredients may include Almonds, hard-boiled Eggs, Prunes, Lemons, Tomatoes, and other vegetables. The tajine, like other Moroccan dishes, is known for its distinctive flavouring, which comes from spices including Saffron, Cumin, Coriander, Cinnamon, Ginger and ground red Chillies. Cumin, Coriander, Saffron, Chilles, dried Ginger, Cinnamon, and Paprika are on ever cook’s shelf, and in the mortar. Harissa, a paste of Garlic, Chillies, Olive oil, and Salt, makes for fiery dishes that stand out among the milder foods that are more the Mediterranean norm. Ras el Hanout , a dried spice mixture that combines anywhere from 10 to 100 spices. Each vendor has his own secret recipe, and no two are exactly alike. Couscous, granular semolina, is central to Morrocan cuisine and is often cooked with spices, vegetables, nuts, and Raisins. It makes a meal in itself or is topped with rich stews and roasted meats. The tajine’s name is taken from the distinctive earthenware dish with a cone-shaped top in which it is cooked and served. Another Moroccan dietary staple is Couscous, made from fine grains of a wheat product called semolina. It is served many different ways, with vegetables, meat, or seafood.

Sweets play a very important role in the Moroccan diet. Every household has a supply of homemade sweet desserts made from almonds, honey, and other ingredients. Mint tea is served with every meal in Morocco. It is sweetened while it is still in the pot.

Muslim dietary restrictions prohibit the consumption of Pork and Alcohol. During the holy season of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the day, a thick soup called Harira is served at night. A bowl of Harira, which is made with Beans and Lamb, is served with fresh Dates. It is served both at home and in cafes. For the holiday Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, a holiday feast is prepared. A popular dish at this feast is bisteey. More than 100 layers of pastry dough may be used.

The Muslim feast day of Eid el Kebir takes place seventy days after Ramadan. For this holiday, a sheep is roasted on a spit and served whole at the table. Each person cuts off a piece and dips it into a dish of Cumin. Rich Date bars called mescouta are a popular dessert at many festive occasions.

Olive oil is the best oil to cook Moroccan food with. Morocco has a rich land for Olives, although most of the best Olive oil is exported and becoming too expensive for the average Moroccan. Therefore, in many households nowadays, you see Moroccans cooking with vegetable oil. Argan oil is a strong, nutty flavored oil that is grown in the South of Morocco, between Essaouria and Agadir. It is not a traditional ingredient in Fassi kitchens, but it is used in the South as a dressing for salads, in

desserts, and as a dermatological product. Because of these dermatological properties, this oil has also become a hot commodity in some of the luxury European cosmetic stores as a wrinkle-reducing oil.

Moroccans eat their meals at low round tables, sitting on cushions on the floor. They eat with their hands instead of silverware, using the thumb and first two fingers of their right hands. They also use pieces of bread to soak up sauces and carry food to the mouth. Small warmed, damp towels are passed around before the meal to make sure everyone’s hands are clean. Most meals consist of a single main dish, often a stew, a couscous dish, or a hearty soup. It is served with bread, salad, cold vegetables, and Couscous or rice on the side. A typical breakfast might include beyssara ,dried Broad beans stewed with Cumin and Paprika, beghrir and bread. Two breakfast favourites that may sound exotic to Westerners are Lambs’ heads and calves’ feet .

Although Moroccans love sweets, they are usually saved for special occasions. With everyday meals, the most common dessert is fresh fruit.

The sweetened Mint tea that comes with every meal is served a special way. It is brewed in a silver teapot and served in small glasses. When the tea is poured, the pot is held high above the glasses to let air mix with the tea. Tea is served not only at home but also in public places. In stores, merchants often offer tea to their customers.

Morocco is famous for the wide range of delicious foods sold by its many street vendors. These include soup, shish kebab, roasted Chickpeas, and salads. Both full meals and light snacks are sold. A favourite purchase is sugared doughnuts tied together on a string to carry home.