eat well, travel often, dream big!

Whew!! I have spent a better part of the weekend working on a little blog makeover.  So…what do you think?  (PS if you say you hate it I will ignore you…just kidding!)  I think my eyes are crossed but I am happy with how things look, although I’m sure to make tweeks as I go.  But seriously I do want to know what you think!

Now that I’m all set up it’s time to get back to posting.  The weather here is still dismal at best and I’ve found myself continuing to make the staples of warm winter comfort food even though deep down I’m craving light, fresh food.  One of these meals is traditionally eaten during Ramadan in Morocco.  I shouldn’t say eaten, I should say consumed in massive quantities.  Even MarocBaba who doesn’t do soup eats this EVERY DAY during Ramadan.  I’m not sure if it’s habit, tradition, or what but he does.  I’ve shared the recipe here before, but I’m re-sharing with images today.

The Table Setting

Looking at this picture again I realize it looks like a copious amount of boiled eggs.  M literally will eat 4 boiled eggs in a sitting, plus I knew whatever was left he’d take to school – the kid is an egg freak.  In the bottom right corner is a plate of dates, a standard accompaniment with harira.  The very small tajine in the upper left is actually a dish that holds spices; salt, pepper, and cumin are on the table for this meal.  Also you can’t see it, but rest assured there was a basket of bread to eat too.

I really love the contrast in this picture.  There is something about brown eggs that just makes me smile.  To my international readers, most eggs in the US are white, not brown.  We buy free-range organic eggs that always come in the brown hues.  Makes them feel much more natural to me.

Finally the harira.  If you want to cook up a batch tonight, here’s my recipe!


  • 1 medium to large onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 5-6 tomatoes
  • 1 to 1-½ cups beef, lamb or chicken cubed (optional)
  • 1 handful chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 handful chopped cilantro
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • Olive oil
  • 1t Salt
  • 1½t Black Pepper
  • 1T Paprika
  • 1T Turmeric
  • 1 small pinch Saffron crushed (if desired)
  • ½ c garbanzo beans (soaked overnight)
  • ¼ c lentils (washed)
  • 1/2 c Vermicelli pasta (broken to small pieces)
  • 1/2 c Flour
  • 4 cups water
  • Food processor


  • Heat olive oil in large stockpot.
  • Puree onion and garlic in food processor. Add to pot and sauté.
  • Add meat and brown until almost cooked.
  • Puree tomatoes and add along with another dash of olive oil
  • Either finely chop or puree parsley and cilantro (w/ tomatoes) and add Add salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric (and saffron if desired)
  • Add water and can of tomato paste
  • Add the flour to 1c of water in a seperate bowl, mix and allow to sit while soup is cooking, mix occassionally to seperate any clumps that might occur.
  • Bring the soup to a boil and add lentils and beans
  • Once beans are cooked, add pasta and let simmer
  • When beans are cooked through, begin to stream the flour mixture into the pot. Slowly pour the flour mixture into the soup, all while mixing to ensure it combines. The soup should begin thickening halfway through.
  • The harira should be thick but still have a soup consistecy.


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I’ve never shared this recipe on my site and recently thought about why.  One of the most well known dishes of Morocco and of Marrakech especially is tangia Marrakechia.  It is only made in Marrakech and is highly popular.  It is known as the bachelor’s dish, often made by single guys, I’m guessing because of how simple it is.  This dish is cooked in a special vessel called a tangia.

You can purchase one of your own from Berber Trading company for $38.  All of the ingredients are put inside and covered up.  It is then cooked in low heat, a charcoal oven for several hours.  You can see Jamie Oliver’s trip through the souqs of Marrakech and making a tangia (albeit not a traditional one).  The video is great and you can really get a feel for Marrakech.

If you don’t have the tangia cooking pot – don’t fret.  You can make it just as easily in a pressure cooker.

Ingredients for Tangia

  • 2 lbs. lamb
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic crushed
  • a small bunch (5 stalks) Italian parsley chopped
  • a small bunch (5 stalks) cilantro chopped
  • 2 tsp
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads crushed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 preserved lemon rind, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon smen, optional


In pressure cooker, add the olive oil, onions and garlic and saute on medium heat until onion becomes translucent. Wash and trim lamb of all excess fat and add to the pressure cooker. Add all of the spices and mix around all of the ingredients so that the meat is covered with all of the spices.

Next add the preserved lemon, smen and water. Just enough water should be added to barely cover the meat. Cover the pressure cooker and cook on medium high heat for 45 minute s- 1 hour. Vent the steam and check to see if the meat is tender. It should be falling apart with a thick sauce reserved. If the meat is falling apart but there is a lot of liquid left continue boiling down the liquid. When finished turn out onto a plate and eat with crusty round bread or French baguettes.

There are no vegetables in this dish traditionally.  Although it is usually eaten with a first course of many different cold salads.  I’ll be sharing some more in coming posts.  But feel free to search in the archives for some more.  You can start here.

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It’s March and it’s still cold, and by cold I don’t mean 45F..I mean it was 2F this morning.  I can’t help whining about this because I am getting so anxious for warmer above freezing weather.  Seriously, snow and ice for 5 months is more than any human should be made to endure.  Maybe I am overly anxious because spring is my very favorite season and it never lasts long enough, because as soon as the snow melts it feels like the humidity cranks up and poof spring is gone.  I really do love the blossoming of trees, the warm afternoons when there is still a slight breeze but just enough to need a light sweater.  Oh and when I can open my windows again.  Trust me nearly 6 months of a closed up house is just too much.  I also really really love packing away the boots, snowpants, hats and mittens.  Right now I am looking at them just thinking – “just wait you evil things you, I won’t have to look at you soon!”

Across my blog reading I am seeing all kinds of light springy dishes.  I just can’t get there yet.  Spring greens with citrus fruits, spring asparagus, lamb…forget it!  I can’t get anything locally grown and fresh!  So for a few more weeks at least we’re still eating winter-fare.  However this recipe had me bordering on spring-time.

They look so bright and pretty don’t they?  (they cost a pretty penny too!)  But it was so worth it.  I think you’ll enjoy this fast and easy recipe too.  I think it’s a great dish to warm you up, even on a cool spring night (if you’re so lucky!).


1 lb ground beef

12 oz crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce

12 oz water

3 tbsp crushed garlic

1/2 onion finely chopped

chopped jalapenos (optional- add based on your comfort level)

salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp cumin

4 bell pepers (you pick the color) seeded and cored

2 c brown rice

shredded cheese (optional – I used cheddar)


Add ground beef to an oven proof skillet and brown.  If you’re using a low fat content meat you may want to add a little olive oil to the pan after cooking the meat.  Once browned, remove from pan, leaving drippings behind.  Add onions and garlic and cook on low-medium high until translucent.  Add the meat back in and mix.  Pour in the tomato and water as well as mixing in the remaining spices.  Finally add the rice.  Turn up the heat slightly and cover.  Cook until rice is just tender.

Now onto the stuffing!  What’s left in your pot should still have liquid remaining.  If not add some more water to loosen up the mixture.  Spoon the mixture into your pepper shells. I still had some left in the pan so I nestled my peppers into the remaining juice to cook a little while longer and melt some cheese on top.  I did the final step by covering up my cheese topped peppers and placing it in the oven for about 10 minutes to melt down and thicken up the sauce.

Dish up!  I added a little barley to mine too.  Great with a simple salad or a side of green beans.

Psst…guess who was the guest on this weeks American Muslim Mom podcast?  Little ‘ole me!  I hope you’ll stop over and visit this fantastic website and take a listen!  Make sure to leave a comment when you stop by over there!

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Eeeek!  The week got away from me and I didn’t get a chance to try Dorie’s recipe for b’stila.  So I guess that means I will just have to share my own!  I was really looking forward to this week since it is a Moroccan recipe. I’m guessing it would up in the cookbook due to the French connection to Morocco.  But this is a Moroccan dish – very unique to the country.  Traditionally it is made with pigeon but I’ve been unable to actually get one made of pigeon when I’m visiting.

This is favorite of mine.  My sister-in-laws always make sure to have this once or twice when I’m visiting.  There’s always tastes the best which I’m sure is part skill and part the right ingredients!  This is made with a dough called ourka (work-a) that is a bit thicker than filo dough.  You can sometimes pick  it up in Middle Eastern markets but if not filo dough works too. This recipe is a bit different than the traditional recipe (esp the chicken – I don’t like dark meat).

Filling -
2T veg oil (I use olive)
1 onion finely chopped
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
¼ C minced fresh flat leaf parsley
2 T minced fresh cilantro (I use a bit more)
¼ t ground turmeric
8 threads saffron, crushed
1 C water
1 t ground ginger
1¼ t ground cinnamon
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 t salt
½ t pepper
⅔ C powdered sugar

Almond mixture -
½ C whole blanched almonds (I used split almonds)
½ C powdered sugar
1 t ground cinnamon

12 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
1 C (2 sticks) butter, melted (I completely skip this and used spray butter stuff)
ground cinnamon and powdered sugar for garnish

  • In a large saucepan over med heat, heat the oil. Saute’ onion until golden (6-8 min). Add chicken, parsley, cilantro, turmeric, saffron, water, ginger, & cinnamon. Cover & cook until the chicken is tender (20-25 min).
  • Transfer chicken to a bowl or plate and set aside to cool. Let the sauce continue to simmer in the pan and add the beaten eggs, salt, pepper, & sugar. Stir constantly until the eggs are scrambled. Shred the chicken & add it to the egg mixture. Set aside.
Almond mixture:
  • In a blender or food processor, coarsely grind the almonds and mix w/ sugar & cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Remove 12 sheets of phyllo from the pkg and re wrap the remaining phyllo in its original wrap. Refrigerate for future use.
  • Stack the 12 sheets on a work surface and cover w/ a damp towel. Spray a little butter on a pizza pan or baking sheet.
  • Layer 3 sheets of phyllo, lightly spraying each layer w/ butter.
  • Sprinkle the 3rd sheet evenly w/ ½ of the almond mixture. Layer & butter 3 more sheets. Spread the chicken mixture evenly over the top, leaving a 1½” border of phyllo.
  • Fold over the edges to partially cover the chicken mixture. Layer & butter 3 more sheets over the chicken, sprinkling the remaining almond mixture evenly over the top.
  • Layer & butter the last 3 sheets of phyllo over the almond mixture. Tuck the edges of the last 6 sheets under the b’stilla as you would a bed sheet (@ this point, I take another baking sheet and place it on top, then flip it over & seal the last 6 sheets of phyllo from bottom to top)

  • Bake the b’stilla until golden brown (20-25 min).
  • Place the powdered sugar in a fine-meshed sieve. Tap the sides of the sieve to cover the surface of the b’stilla lightly and; evenly w/ sugar.
  • Using thumb & forefinger, sprinkle ground cinnamon over the top (most people make patterns, I just lightly dust it). Serve immediately, before pastry becomes soggy.
This is the only picture I have of my bstila!  Another reason why I need to make it again so that I can document it better!

**It took me a long time to finally make this b/c I thought it would be a really daunting task. It’s not – it’s a lot of steps, but it’s really easy and didn’t take as long as I thought.
Note: These can be prepared in advance and frozen uncooked in aluminum foil. It will keep up to 2 months in the freezer. No need to thaw before baking, but bake for 10 min extra if frozen.
**This makes about a 10″ pie and easily serves 4 average plates.

I’m determined to make Dorie’s bstila for comparison but in the meantime check out some other posts here.

A few that I liked;
My Baking Heart
Frozen Plumb
French Whisk

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Veal is one meat that I have avoided for a long time, because of how it is raised.  Growing up in a rural community I learned in my late teens how veal came to be and found the practice repulsing.  Some facts about veal that many people might not know;
  • Veal calves are taken from their mothers almost immediately after they’re born.
  • They are placed in 22″ by 54″ crates and tethered to them 24 hours a day. The crates are designed to be so small that the calves cannot step forward or backward or turn around. This makes the meat very tender since the animals do not develop muscle.
  • They receive a substitute for their mothers’ milk that is deficient in iron so they stay anemic, giving the meat a whiter color, instead of the usual pink or red that characterizes beef.
  • Not much water is provided, so the calves will drink more of their feed.
  • Many are given steroids or growth hormones to help them gain weight quicker, plus antibiotics, since confinement can breed disease.
  • These practices have long been considered inhumane by many worldwide. In fact, the use of crates and the anemic diet is illegal in Europe.
from Organic.lovetoknow

Disturbing isn’t it?  The good news in all of this is that I discovered Strauss Free Raised Veal!  Most Whole Foods carry this brand which fits my criteria for humanely raised.  If you enjoy veal I really encourage you to find out how it is raised  and buy the most humanely raised meat as possible.  I truly believe it’s so important for all of us to know and understand where our food, and especially our meat comes from.  But that’s a story for another day.

With my good fortune in hand I set out to make a dish with the veal cutlets.  My husband only likes meat if it’s falling apart.  So even though these were nice little cutlets I tossed them in the pressure cooker to speed things up.  You could easily make this in a pan on the stove!

1lb veal cutlets
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp each paprika, salt, pepper
1 small onion chopped finely
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 large handful of frozen artichoke hearts
1/4 c water

1 c quick cooking barley
2 c chicken broth
1/4 c frozen peas

Pressure Cooker
In a pressure cooker add 1 tsp vegetable oil and the chopped onion.  Turn heat to medium high and cook the onion until translucent.  Next, add the veal cutlets and brown.  Last, add the paprika, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice.  Mix and add the water and frozen artichoke hearts.  Cover pressure cooker and cook for about 20 minutes.  Release pressure and continue to cook if there is water remaining.  There should be a medium thick sauce remaining.

In a wok or a high sided skillet (like this one) add the vegetable oil and onion.  Cook on medium heat until onion is translucent.  Add the veal cutlets and brown.  Add the seasoning, garlic and lemon juice.  Last add the water and frozen artichoke hearts.  Cover and cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes.  If using this method you will want to check the water levels.  This method will take longer but if you don’t want your meat falling apart you can cook it to the tenderness you prefer.

For the pilaf:
Add 2 cups of chicken broth to a pan and heat to a boil.  Add the barley, cover and cook approximately 12 minutes until tender.  All of the liquid should be gone.  Mix in the frozen peas, cover and allow to sit.  The heat of the barley will thaw the peas.

Serve together and drizzle meat and pilaf (if you desire) with the leftover sauce from the veal.

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Crockpot Lamb and Lentils

There is one Moroccan dish that is an absolute favorite of mine.  It’s called Rafisa and is usually made after a babies birth.  It uses a spice called fenugreek seeds which I’ve heard help with milk production in new mothers.  My guess is this is where the connection is.  I love love love chicken rafisa but my husband won’t touch it.  So I’ve never really learned how to make it.  

I came up with this twist on rafisa a few weekends ago when we were snowed in.  I am not sure where the ingredient ideas came from other than it was what we had in the freezer and cupboards!  It didn’t look very pretty when it was done BUT it did taste good.  So I guess sometimes taste presentation does win the day. The star in this is the bacon, it gives the dish a smoky deeper flavor, and I can only imagine what it might taste like with real bacon!

(my apologies ahead of time- this recipe is not a precise measure!)
1/2 package of turkey bacon chopped into small pieces
1 medium onion chopped
3/4 lb lamb (which ever cut you have on hand)
2 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup of brown lentils soaked 2-3 hours
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 tbsp cumin
3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
palmful of chopped Italian parsley
1 cup of water
Msemmen to eat with (you can optionally use regular bread)

Add the chopped onion, garlic, 1 tbsp vegetable oil and turkey bacon to a skillet and cook until onions and garlic become translucent and the bacons starts to crisp up a little bit.  

Remove from the pan and add to slow cooker.  Place the cut of lamb into the same skillet and cook on both sides until browned.  Add this then to the slow cooker as well.  

Drain the lentils and add to the slow cooker, followed by all of the remaining ingredients, except for the bread.   Mix well and cook on low heat for 5-6 hours.  You will want to check the water levels and if it seems to be drying out add a little bit more.  The lentils should be tender and the meat falling off the bone when it’s done. You can heat up the msemmen and put it on top to scoop up the dish with, or eat it with regular bread.   A great comfort food!


PS – I’ve been nominated for Best Moroccan Food Blog at Morocco Blogs.. If you haven’t would you please stop over and vote for Maroc Mama in the food category?  I appreciate all of my readers and would love to have your support!!


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Meatball Tajine

Meatball Tajine

Moroccan Food December 28, 2010 6

A very popular tajine is the egg and meatball tajine.  It’s great because it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Paired with a salad it makes a fantastic dinner.  Coupled with some tea and dates a nice, hearty breakfast.  I don’t always like eggs so I changed this recipe slightly and made simply a meatball tajine.  After I made this I wondered what it would taste like over spaghetti, a sort of Moroccan spaghetti.  It’s a thought!  If you try it let me know!
The ingredients and cooking technique are virtually the same sans the egg.
1 lb ground lamb or beef
2 garlic cloves minced
1 small onion minced
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
chopped fresh parsley (or chopped fresh coriander)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil for frying

Tomato sauce (see recipe below)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 garlic cloves minced
3 medium tomatoes, insides grated
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 tsp cumin



1. In a mixing bowl, mix the meat, garlic, onion, spices, salt and pepper and the parsley until it is all thoroughly mixed, knead to a smooth mixture.
2. Roll into gum-ball sized balls and set aside on a tray.
3. Heat the oil in a fry pan and cook the meatballs until golden brown

For Tomato Sauce:
1. Heat a little oil in a saucepan; add garlic then cook for about 2 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and spices then cook for about 10 minutes

To finish:  Combine ingredients for tomato sauce and pour over the meatballs, simmer on the stove top for about 15-20 minutes, and stir so that it does not stick.


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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!  

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