I just got back from an amazing trip to Morocco! I was hanging out in Aourir, a small town also known as Banana Village because of the Banana groves separating the villages. I was more specifically in Agadir which is Morocco’s most popular surfing destination. I learned how to surf, met some amazing people, rolled around in the desert sand and road a camel :), what’s better than that? Well, we were lucky to be hosted by a special chef making some really unique and delicious Moroccan meals in our little villa.
I’m honestly not sure how “Moroccan” authentic our meals were since everything we had was vegetarian, so we may have missed out on some classic lamb Tagines, the Mediterranean seafood and delicious meat skewers (although I did have some at a BBQ). With that said, what I have learned about what makes Moroccan food Moroccan is often the use of the tagine. If you’re not sure what a tagine is, it’s a cone shaped pottery used for slow cooking basically any kind of meal. Our eggs were even “tagined” in the morning like Huevos Rancheros in a delicious tomato sauce. We also had Beghrir which quickly turned into the best pancakes I’ve ever had! Often there is dried fruits, nuts and olives found in Moroccan dishes which I think is just brilliant, and of course spices such as turmeric, cumin, paprika, chilli, and ginger.
All this to say, I got home and wanted to make a KitchenKealy style Moroccan meal to bring me back to the hot African sun, green waves, and our little Villa with the unforgettable meals. I’m going to continue the vegetarian theme since I will be sharing this with my new friends I made on my trip and most of them are vegetarian :). I don’t have a tagine at home, as much as I wanted to pack one in my bag, I went a little crazy on the beautiful pottery they have there and well, there was no room. So, to “Westernize” the idea of a tagine I used a good ol’ fashion Dutch Oven! Right now I can hear my Dutch friend I met saying “Dutch oven? Those aren’t Dutch” and after researching why they are called Dutch Ovens, I still don’t have an answer. But anyway, the point is, it’s good an insulating and slow cooking meals the same way Tagines do.
I made what I call a Moroccan Chickpea and Sweet Potato stew! I could have made that name a lot longer with the other ingredients I included, couscous, olives, dates, cashews, tomatoes and spices. This was simple to make, just a matter of prepping the ingredients, throwing it in the dutch oven and slow cooking for 6-8 hours. I cooked the couscous separately so it wouldn’t go soggy, and threw in the dates and cashews at the end so they also wouldn’t go to mush. Top with cilantro or mint and for fun I paired it with dolmades (the stuffed vine leaves) I hope you enjoy my recipe inspired by my very special trip! Hadshi bneen!
Also, here are my dishes, just because 🙂
1/2 cup of Israeli couscous
2/3 cup of boiled water
3-5 threads of saffron
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 inch piece grated ginger root
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 large onion chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large sweet potato peeled and diced
2 cups chickpeas
sliced large olives (whatever kind you like)
1 tbsp natural peanut butter (secret ingredient isn’t secret anymore)
2/3 cup cashews roughly chopped
handful of dried fruit (apricots, raisins, dates)
bunch of cilantro or mint for toppings
Preheat your oven to 210º or 250º depending how long you want to slow cook it for 6-8 hours.
Prep all your ingredients. Pour the can of tomatoes in with all spices (excluding the saffron), garlic, ginger, onion, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas into your slow cooking method. Give the stew a stir and place in oven for 5 hours. Check on the stew and add the olives, dried fruit and half the cashews, also that delicious tablespoon of peanut butter for added taste.
Bring the water to a boil and add the saffron threads and couscous. Bring to medium heat and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Since we aren’t cooking meat at this point the stew can be ready whenever you are. Mix in the couscous to the dutch oven and serve topped with the extra cashews and cilantro or mint.