eat well, travel often, dream big!

Tajine Tales: Preparing a New Tajine

I’m on Tajine #3….the two others that I have, have cracked bottoms.  Not cracked so bad that I can’t use them to serve but I can’t actually cook in them.  So this year I got a new tajine from Morocco.  It’s bigger, and a little different shape from the other two.  It’s also unglazed.  I swore that this time I would not crack it.  I would take care of preparing it before I actually cooked in it.  If you’re thinking of picking up a tajine in Morocco or purchasing one in the United States make sure that you find out if it’s ready to be cooked in, or if needs to be primed.  

The process isn’t hard, it does take time and space.  Depending on how the tajine was made will impact how it needs to be prepared.  This is an unglazed clay tajine from southern Morocco.  A glazed tajine from Northern Morocco may have a different way to prime.  Always ask!  This technique however is a safe bet if you’re unsure how to prepare yours.

First the bottom of the tajine needed to be rubbed down with a good douse of olive oil, making sure to rub it all over and into the lip where the cone sits.  Then I added warm water.  Allow to sit for at least 24 hours.  Mine ended up sitting for 2 days (hey I’m trying not to crack a third one!)  I allowed it to then dry out.  Lastly fill with salt water and place into a cold oven.  Turn heat on to 250F and leave for 30 minutes.  At this point it should be good to cook in.  It’s always best to use at low temperatures for longer periods of time.  If using on an a stovetop that is electric make sure to have a heat diffuser and don’t place directly onto the coils.

If you’re looking for a tajine make sure to check out and Clay Coyote.

Special thanks to Paula Wolfert the clay pot queen for her hints and tips on preparing my tajine!!  Gift giving?  Give your foodie friends a tajine and Paula’s fantastic Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking: Traditional and Modern Recipes to Savor and Share cookbook!  They will love you for it!


Read more
Zaatar Flat Bread

Zaatar Flat Bread

Moroccan Food December 16, 2010 1


Doesn’t it just look so tasty with the thyme mixed in??

I’ve finally worked up enough courage to start playing around with my basic Moroccan bread recipe to come up with some variations.  On my first attempt it’s safe to say it was a success!  This is a much more rustic bread than the white bread version I make.  However most bread in Morocco is made with a blend of another whole grain.  This bread is a little sweet and a little savory.  I think that if you have a little bit of bread leftover it would make a great bread crumb once dried up!

2 c white flour

These quantities will make about 3 8″ diameter loaves

1 c wheat flour
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves (stems removed)
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp dry yeast
2 tbsp good olive oil

Directions:  You can use the same instructions as the traditional khobz recipe.  Just add in the additional ingredients before kneading.  Check out the tutorial here.
Have your favorite Mediterranean Winter/Holiday Dessert ready for tomorrow? Food of the Sun Blog Carnival starts tomorrow – have your links ready!!  

You May Also Like

  • 81
    Usually I make bread daily, but it's the round Moroccan kind. For a party I hosted yesterday I decided to try something a little different and a quick yeast bread was in order. I found a recipe in one of my mom's magazines and tweeked with some changes for our tastes and needs.   Even for…
    Tags: bread, ingredients, flour, tsp, tbsp, recipe, breads
  • 77
    I’ve posted my recipe before on making Moroccan bread (khobz) and you can find my recipe here.  The fun thing about this bread is that it’s pretty forgiving.  You can use different kinds of flours, mixtures of flours, rising time and making it into different shapes.  Traditionally it is made into a round and there…
    Tags: flour, bread, recipe, breads
  • 71
    I don't know if there's anything more Moroccan than a round loaf of bread. Nope. There's not. Let's just say no one in Morocco is going to be doing the Atkin's diet anytime soon. Bread is so prevalent and ingrained (haha ingrained) in Moroccan culture my husband can not eat a meal without it. And…
    Tags: bread, flour, breads
Read more
Chicken Tajine with Potatoes and Green Olives
Looking for a change from the Chicken, Olive and French Fry tajine?  Try using regular potatoes!  Saves some time in cooking and eliminate the frying for a little healthier option.  This is another of my children’s favorite meals!
1 lb of chicken
1/2 preserved lemon
1-2 potatoes quartered
1/2 onion chopped finely
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 pinch of saffron
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp chopped Italian Parsley
1-2 handfuls of green or kalamata olives
In a pressure cooker add vegetable oil and onions.  Saute on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes until onions become translucent.  Add cumin, pepper, saffron, tumeric, parsley and ginger and stir into onion mixture.  Add pieces of chicken and stir so that they become covered with onion/spice mixture.  Add enough water to cover chicken 3/4 of the way.  Next add the potatoes and preserved lemon.  Cover tightly and cook on medium heat for 45 minutes.  Release steam and check.  Potatoes should be soft and chicken should be falling apart.  Keep cover off and add olives.  Reduce water to a medium thickness sauce.  Place chicken, olives and potatoes on a large serving bowl and pour sauce around it.  Eat with crusty bread!
Don’t forget the Food of the Sun blog carnival will be starting next week!  Get your entries ready!  

You May Also Like

  • 92
    So next weekend I am teaching a Moroccan cooking class at a friend’s specialty kitchen store. I’m a bit nervous as this will be my first public cooking experience and I don’t often cook with a recipe so I have to figure out precisely all the measurements for my recipes. One of the easiest recipes…
    Tags: add, chicken, tsp, cover, oil, onion, olives, vegetable, lemon, tajine
  • 91
    MarocBaba and I always come to a head when I start "playing" with a tajine.  To him there's no messing with an original.  When I started to put this tajine together he thought it was another attempt on my part to make something new. But, I first saw this tajine in Paula Wolfert's Food of…
    Tags: tajine, dish, main, chicken
  • 90
      There are two Moroccan meals that I learned first.  This is one of them (the other is Moroccan style lentils). Although I now can make any number of tajines and other dishes, chicken with potatoes and preserved lemons brings back really nice memories. It took me many tries to get the spices right and…
    Tags: potatoes, chicken, tajine, preserved, lemon, dish, main
Read more

I recently was having a conversation with a friend of mine about Moroccan salads.  In the American sense a lot of dishes labeled salads in Morocco are more similar to our concept of side dishes.  However in Morocco the salad course is one unto itself, served before the main dish.  In a multi-course meal they would be first followed by a “side-dish” and then 1 or 2 main dishes.  During his last trip to Morocco, Youssef brought me home a beautiful large serving platter (and one for my mom he knows the way to our hearts!).  It’s big and I can’t use it too often because we wouldn’t eat that much without having guests over.  You might have caught a glimpse in a past post.  Now I present you the true purpose of the platter…..

Looks like a lot of work…guess what I took a few shortcuts!  I was inspired by Christine however took my own shortcuts to speed up preparation.  

  • Moroccan Carrot Salad 
  • Baby carrots steamed in Ziploc Steam fresh bag, chilled and topped with a vinegarette
  • Moroccan Green Beans in Vinegarette
  • Green beans steamed and chilled with a vinegarette
  • Moroccan Rice and Tuna Salad
  • 1 bag of frozen rice (in the steam’s itself bag) cooked and chilled, with 1 pouch of Tuna mixed in.  1/4c vinegarette + 2 tsp mayonaise combined and mixed in.  (may not use all of the dressing).  Place into a bowl and inverted onto platter.  Sprinkle top with cumin.
  • Mixed Vegetable Salad (I added in green peppers and mangos –not authentic!)

Read more

Last week in my grocery shopping I came across the bin of fall vegetables.  This might not be a phenomenon where you are but it is definetely common here in the Midwest.  (I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture).  Imagine a pallet with solid sides, about 4 feet high –  LOADED with squash and gourds of every shape, color, and size.  Yes, this means fall is here.  Imagine my surprise when on the center aisles of the produce aisle was a cute display of smaller size squash.  Everything is better when it’s miniature!  This is particularly good for me because I’m the only one that really likes squash…wait loves squash.  I don’t understand why no one else in my family does but I could eat it everyday!  I picked up a small acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkin and another squash (I don’t know what it is but it tasted good).  Then I thought..what am I going to do with all these squash?!?  Couscous!  Perfect.  I picked up the other veggies and headed home.  This is basic, and you can swap in and out any squash or vegetable that you like.  You won’t be disapointed!
My Ingredients:
1/2 butternut squash
1/2 acorn squash
1/2 small pumpkin
1/2 mystery squash
1 large sweet potato
3 carrots peeled, cut in half lengthwise and widthwise
1 zucchini
For spices and other vegetable ideas see master couscous recipe.
Same as with the master recipe – just make sure that you add the zucchini and any other soft vegetables later on in cooking. 
Then what with the other half squashes??  You could make some soup or you could roast them! 
Cube up the remaining squash, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper – throw in a 350F oven and roast about 45 minutes until tender.  So tasty you’ll eat them like candy! 
Do you have a favorite squash recipe?  What other vegetables or foods make you think fall?

You May Also Like

  • 75
    Couscous is one of the national dishes of Morocco however, it’s a dish that I rarely make.  This is not because I don’t love it (because I do!)  It does take some time to make the couscous and it also takes a little practice to get the flavors right.  I have been told that you…
    Tags: couscous, vegetables, dish, main
  • 70
    One thing that I've learned about Moroccan cooking is that stepping outside of my normal comfort zone is a must. I grew up in the Midwest and the craziest spices I ran across in most of my food was paprika. Let's face it salt and pepper were really all there was. Moroccan food is also…
    Tags: vegetarian, dish, main
  • 69
    I'm eating less and less meat these days. I'm not sure if it's just a loss of appetite for it or that I'm simply enjoying other things. It feels like summer hasn't left Morocco, temperatures are still high and we're enjoying lots of fresh produce better take advantage of it while it lasts!  Ma'akouda Patties…
    Tags: couscous, vegetarian, main, dish, vegetables
Read more

Cheese Briouats

Moroccan Food September 9, 2010 2

It would be highly unlikely to find this recipe on a table in Morocco.  It’s origins are in the Middle East, mostly Turkey or Greece where there is plenty of cheese consumed!   This is a fast and easy appetizer or great accompaniment to a big bowl of soup.  As the weather here turns cooler I am looking forward to lots of soups.

2010-08-22 13.30.26


  • 1 package of filo dough (I love this one)
  • 8 oz Greek Feta
  • 8 oz shredded mozzerella
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • melted butter to brush between layers
  • 1 egg yolk beaten for brushing on top before baking


Preheat the oven to 375F.  In a large bowl combine the feta, mozzerella, 2 eggs, garlic and pepper.  Mash to combine and break apart the feta.  The result should be a thick filling. 

Thaw and roll out the filo, and cut in half by the width.  Remove one sheet of filo, and brush the layer with butter.  Add another sheet of filo on top of this and repeat.  Do one final layer (3 total).  When the 3rd layer is down, place a tablespoon of filling along the bottom. 

2010-08-22 12.53.05

Fold over the side ends and then small lip on the bottom and make a 1/2 roll.  Make sure to keep the sides tucked in as you roll.  (just like a burrito). 

2010-08-22 12.53.22

Continue to roll until the end and use a little bit of butter to seal the end of the briouat.   Place onto a baking sheet.  Repeat the process until you’re out of filo, or out of filling.  This recipe should make about 15 but it depends on how much filling you are adding.  Brush the tops of the briouats with egg yolk before placing in the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and starting to flake. 

You can also bake these part way, cool, and pop in the freezer.  When you want to use them simply remove from the freezer, thaw and finish baking them! 

You May Also Like

  • 73
    One thing this Ramadan has brought for me is the testing out of several new appetizers.  I'll admit my repetoire in this department is limited but luckily I've tried several new things.  I'm going to be posting several of them over the next few days.  First up is a cheesy puffy appetizer.  I originally saw…
    Tags: filling, pastry, turkey, dough, cheese, garlic, ingredients, fold, brown, cut
  • 59
    I am not a seafood fan, at least I wasn’t a seafood fan. I have a very good friend who is from Casablanca and last year for Ramadan she made briouats with shrimp and fish. I turned up my nose at first but after eating one I was hooked. So as I began to prepare…
    Tags: tsp, add, continue, filling, fold, egg, place, pepper, package, briouats
  • 51
    Is it just me or have the last five months gone by incredibly fast? I can't believe that June is part way through. Last year I was so organized and prepared for Ramadan way ahead of time and this year I feel like I'm grasping for straws. This will be my first Ramadan in Morocco.…
    Tags: ramadan, morocco, appetizers
Read more


Moroccan Food August 22, 2010 3

A staple in Morocco for Ramadan is the chebekia a flavored cookie that is fried and then soaked in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds.  I love these cookies but they are a little difficult to make.  I attempted to extract the exact recipe from my mother in law but they don’t measure anything and they also make these in HUGE batches – and by huge I mean about 10-15kg at a time.  Because they are so time consuming many families will get together to split the work and then share the bounty.   I’m going to use Christine’s recipe to share with you because it’s really good and why re-invent the wheel?  This recipe will make about 2 kg of cookies (or a little over 4 pounds). 

  • 1/2 kg (about 4 cups) flour, plus additional if necessary
  • 1 soup bowl full (about 200 g or 7 oz.) of golden unhulled sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon ground anise
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant
  • pinch of Gum Arabic grains (gum acacia, mastic) – mix with 1/4 teaspoon of sugar and crush to a powder
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange flower water
  • 2 teaspoons yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
  • ———————————————————————-
  • 1 1/2 kg (about 3 lbs.) honey
  • 2 tablespoons orange flower water
  • 1 1/2 liters vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup golden unhulled sesame seeds, toasted, for decorating


Ahead of time, pick through the sesame seeds to remove any debris. Spread them on a baking pan and toast the sesame in a 400° F (200° C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sesame seeds are crunchy and nutty-flavored. Allow them to cool thoroughly, and then store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Make the Chebakia Dough

Grind one bowlful of toasted sesame in a food processor until it turns powdery. Keep grinding until the powder becomes moist enough to press or pack.
Mix the ground sesame with the flour and other dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with your hands to form a dough. Add more flour if necessary to achieve a dough that is rather stiff but pliable.
Knead the dough by hand for seven to eight minutes or in a mixer with dough hook for four to five minutes. Divide the dough into four portions, shape each into a smooth mound, and place the dough in a plastic bag to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Roll and Cut the Dough

The rolling out and folding process is described below, but if you’ve never made Chebakia, it will be helpful to see the photo tutorial How to Make Chebakia.
Take one of the portions of dough, and roll it out to the thickness of a thin piece of cardboard. Lightly flour your work surface if necessary.
Use a pastry cutter to cut the dough into rectangles approximately the size of your palm. Make four evenly spaced cuts lengthwise in each rectangle. These cuts should be almost the length of the rectangle, but should not cut through to the edges of the dough. The resulting rectangle will have five strips of attached dough.

Fold the Chebakia

Take a rectangle, and thread the middle finger of your right hand through alternating strips of dough. This enables the rectangle to drape over your finger.
With your left hand, pinch together the outer corners of dough which hang over the tip of your finger. This will form the center of the flower shape.
While holding the pinched corners with your left hand, allow the strips of dough to slide down off your right finger while gently turning them inside-out around the pinched portion. Gently pinch the opposite corners closed once the dough is turned inside out. If done correctly, you’ll have formed the dough into an elongated flower shape.
Place the folded piece of dough on a baking sheet or tray. Repeat the process with the remaining rectangles and mounds of dough. Gather together the scraps of dough as you work, mold them together into a mound, and return them to the bag to rest before you try rolling them out again.
Use up all of your dough in this manner. Cover the trays of folded dough with a towel until ready to fry.

Frying the Chebakia

Heat one inch of oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. At the same time, heat the honey almost to boiling in a large pot. When the honey is frothy but not bubbling, add the orange flower water to the honey and turn off the heat.
When the oil is hot, cook the chebakia in batches. Adjust the heat as necessary to slowly fry each batch of chebakia to a medium brown color. This should take about 10 minutes if the oil is the correct temperature. If the oil is too hot, the chebakia will color quickly but the insides will not be cooked crispy.

Soaking the Chebakia in Honey

When the chebakia are cooked to a medium golden brown, use a slotted spoon or strainer to transfer them from the oil directly to the hot honey. Gently push down on the chebakia to submerge them in the honey, and allow them to soak for 5 to 7 minutes. They’ll turn a rich, glossy amber color as they absorb the honey. In the meantime, you can begin frying another batch of cookies.
Note: The longer you soak the chebakia, the more honey they will absorb, and the sweeter and less crispy they become. How long to soak them is a matter of personal preference. However, too short of a soaking will result in pale-colored chebakia that eventually lose their glossy coating.
When the chebakia have finished soaking, remove them from the honey to a strainer or colander, and allow them to drain for only a few minutes. Gently transfer them while hot to a large platter or tray, and sprinkle the centers with sesame. As you finish soaking other batches of chebakia in the honey, simply drain and add them to the platter in a mound, garnishing each batch with sesame.

You May Also Like

  • 69
    I read a lot of food blogs and subscribe to plenty of recipe "sending" newsletters.  It's pretty hard to escape the inundation of sweet, sugary, chocolate covered goodness that is abundant this time of year.  I know many Muslims do not celebrate Christmas, however my family is not one of them.  Without getting too religious…
    Tags: will, ramadan, dessert
  • 61
    Before I went to Morocco I had never eaten a pistachio. The closest I had come to a pistachio was in the Jello pudding my dad ate. But, once I ate one, well I was hooked - and a little upset that I had missed out on this delicious nut for the first 20 years…
    Tags: ramadan, dessert
  • 54
    Best. Cookies. Ever.  Chewy chocolate chip cookies are one of my very favorite things.  Out of desperation I rummaged through my cupboards in search of chocolate chips, only to find out that there weren't any.  What to do, what to do?  Melt down a 1/4 jar of nutella and make Nutella chips of course! How…
    Tags: dough, minutes, will, teaspoon, cup, dessert
Read more


I usually prepare a big iftar meal for my husband during Ramadan.  We would eat plenty of haraira, briouats and other tasty traditional Moroccan dishes.  This year I’m alone and going through all that trouble just doesn’t make a lot of sense. 

Instead I’m opting for light and healthy meals.  This was one of those meals.  Basic.  Kefta meatballs in tomato sauce, diced mangos, avocados, a cucumber and yellow tomatoes.  No dressing, just healthy, yummy summer goodness.  The meatballs were especially good.  They weren’t as heavy as most meatballs and I add some cayenne pepper for an extra zing.

Kefta Meatballs in Tomato Sauce


1/2 pound ground beef
1 egg
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/4 c bread crumbs
1 large tomato halved and the inside grated
3 tsp olive oil                                                                                                    


Using a large mixing bowl, add the meat, egg, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper, and bread crumbs.  Combine well and shape the mixture into ball shapes.

In a large saute pan heat the olive oil and garlic.  Add the grated tomato and 1/2c of water.

Place the meatballs in and cook on medium heat until the meat is cooked through.  Serve hot and eat with bread or over rice. 

You May Also Like

  • 64
    If you're fasting this month are you making sure to eat enough fruits and vegetables?  Last month American Muslim Mom posted a story that many Muslims actually GAIN weight during Ramadan.  How can that be?  For many after a day of fasting the foods that fill the table are fried or sugar laden.  The recipes…
    Tags: iftar, meal, eat, vegetables, well, good, ramadan, year, beef, water
  • 63
    Last week I shared a link to the Cool Noodle Bowl and then realized I left out the image!  I really love this recipe and especially love tossing in Saffron Road chicken nuggets for protein and texture.  I highly recommend you give this dish a shot this summer.  There are so many great vegetables in…
    Tags: vegetables, summer, plenty, ground, iftar, big, tomato, well, rice, beef
  • 60
    Is it just me or have the last five months gone by incredibly fast? I can't believe that June is part way through. Last year I was so organized and prepared for Ramadan way ahead of time and this year I feel like I'm grasping for straws. This will be my first Ramadan in Morocco.…
    Tags: meatballs, ramadan, year, beef, ground
Read more