Welcome to the Kingdom of Morocco located in North Africa. Where the flavors and aroma will draw you in as it did with me. My first and only experience with Moroccan cuisine was many years ago when I was invited to a friends birthday party at Marrakesh. An authentic Moroccan restaurant located in Washington D.C. I absolutely fell in love with the place. The exotic spices and aromatic nature of all the dishes were intoxicating.
And although I'm only 30 minutes outside of D.C. I haven't been able to go back. So, I thought why not try out a dish at home. Which brings me to the Project Food Blog's 2nd Challenge, The Classics. Where I am to recreate a unfamiliar classic dish from a different culture. And what perfect way to experience an authentic Moroccan dish in the comfort of your own home using organic and fresh ingredients. So here goes...
Moroccan cuisine is one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. Early influences by the first settlers known as the Berbers introduced dishes like Tangine (a lamb or chicken stew) and the well known Couscous. Next came the Arab invasion. Which brought about the influences of flavorful spices, nuts, dried fruits and savory and sweet flavor combinations. Which is present in this particular dish. The dried apricot gives off a sweet and tangy flavor while the spices provide the intense heat and savoriness.
The Moorish introduced how to implement locally grown olives and citrus into the Moroccan cuisine. While the Jewish-Moors shared their preserving techniques like the well known Moroccan preserved lemon or pickle. The Ottoman Empire introduced barbequed meats such as Kebabs. And the influence of France, albeit short left behind a culture of pastries, wine and cafes.
Lamb is the preferred red meat in Morocco. Although chicken and beef are also commonly used. In Korean cuisine lamb isn't even on the radar. As well as such spices like cumin, corriander, fennel seeds and even fresh cilantro. Lamb is not one of my favorite meats. However, this recipe has made me into a lamb lover! The gaminess of the lamb is not present in this dish at all. The combination of flavors from the diverse influences truly makes this classic Moroccan dish harmonious. Its amazing how so many different cultural cuisines can marry together to create a symphony of mouth watering flavors.
Moroccan Lamb Tangine, Courtesy of epicurious.com
1/2 tbsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Ground Corriander
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1-1/4 lbs Lamb Leg, Trim and cut into 1-1/2 to 2 inch Pieces
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped
1-1/2 tsp Tomato Paste
1 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1/2 of a 15-1/2 oz Can of Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), Drained
1/2 Cup Organic Turkish Dried Apricot
2 Medium Plum Tomatoes, Chopped
1 Cinnamon Sticks
1-1/2 tsp Minced Fresh Ginger
1 tsp (Packed) Grated Lemon Peel
1 tbsp Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1. Mix the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add lamb and toss until evenly coated.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium high heat. Add the lamb and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally and adding 1 more tbsp of olive oil as needed. Cook for about 8 minutes and transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
3. Add onions and tomato paste to the drippings in the skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
4. Add broth, garbanzo beans, apricots, tomatoes, cinnamon stick, ginger and lemon zest and bring to boil, scraping the browned bits.
5. Return lamb to skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until lamb is tender, about 45 minutes.
1 Box Regular Couscous
2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1-1/2 tbsp Butter
Bring stock and butter to boil, add couscous, turn off heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
This recipe may appear more intimidating than it looks. But its quite simple and most importantly delicious. The lamb meat was extremely tender and the flavors were perfection!
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