MarocMama

eat well, travel often, dream big!

Ma’akouda – The Moroccan “French Fry”

 

It was after a long morning on the beach of Essaouira that we stumbled into the medina to find something for lunch.  Well equipped with a list of requests from the rest of the family we found a “snak” stand to place a very large order.  It was during this last visit to Morocco that I danced with the idea of vegetarianism having had my fill and then some of meat and chicken.  When we went out to eat I was constantly opting for an option without meat.  So as we stood placing order after order I glanced into the display case to see what I thought were falafel.  My eyes lit up.  But when I asked I found out they were not falafel..they were ma’akouda or potato pancakes.
 

I had never had ma’akouda, nor had I seen them before this visit.  I am sure that they can be found in snack shops around the country but for me they will always be synonymous with Essaouira.  They were everywhere!  Now I have no way of know if this is true but they reminded me a lot of potato latkes, the famous Jewish potato pancake.  During the 19th century Essaouira’s Jewish population was about 40% of the total population.  There has been a Jewish population in Morocco for the past 2,000 years, reaching 250,000+ people at one point.  Israel has a population that is about 15% claiming Moroccan Jewish ancestry.  It could certainly be that this was a dish influenced by the Jews of Essaouira.
 

These potato fritters can be eaten alone or as they are most often, made into a sandwich.  They are incredibly easy to make and are sure to please your family.  I chose to make this a gluten-free recipe but you can easily make it with regular all-purpose flour.
 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb Yukon Gold or another soft potato
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder or 1/4 of a chopped onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free flour
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup gluten free flour for dusting
  • frying pan

 

maakouda spices

 

Directions

I like to use a soft skin potato so that I can keep the skin on (that’s where all the nutrients are!).  Scrub them well and then place in a pan.  Boil the potatoes until soft, remove from heat and allow to cool.  Mash.
 

 

Add the spices and egg, mixing well.  Begin to add the flour slowly, mixing while you go.  The dough should be slightly sticky but should not stick to your hands.  You may need to add more than the 1/2 cup of flour.  Heat the oil to medium.  Begin making small balls with the potato mixture.  The size is really up to you.  Flatten each ball and dust with flour.  Add the patties to the oil, making sure not to crowd the pan.  Brown on both sides, remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.

 

Eat warm with your favorite condiment (harissa is tasty!) or make into a sandwich.  Traditionally the ma’akouda sandwich is made on a baguette stuffed with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives, spicy Moroccan mustard and mayo.

 

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We have been having  unseasonably warm weather, that is until this week when temperatures have dipped to single digits.  Whenever I start to feel a slight winter chill it’s time to dig out my heavy blankets and soup recipes.  It has only been in the last year that I have been able to get MarocBaba and the boys to enjoy soup. You must understand how difficult that was for me, a soup lover.  For years I went without, choosing to sacrifice my soup-love.  Mostly that was because I would never eat a full pot myself but also I didn’t want the work of cooking two different things.
 

This year has however been a successful year on the soup front.  First there was the Avgolemono and Veal  Meatball Soup (a HUGE hit), then the Chicken Couscous Soup and most recently Vegetable and Ricotta Gnocchi Soup.
When Paula Wolferts’ Food of Morocco came out I poured over all of the recipes.  Moroccans don’t eat a lot of soup save for the traditional harira. But what I did find in this book was a Spiced Butternut Squash Soup.  Creamed soups aren’t usually my thing, I like broth,  but we had gotten butternut squash in some of our last CSA boxes.  This recipe is from the Rif Mountains in northern Morocco (most likely why I hadn’t had it before) where the winters are cold as they are here in the Midwest.  You can find Paula’s original recipe in her book or on the Food and Wine website.  I made mine slightly differently.
 

Paula Wolferts' Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

I went a little overboard with turmeric (yellowness) it's good for you!

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup (slightly adapted from Paula Wolferts' Food of Morocco)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium butternut squash halved and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • Harissa on the side if desired
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Begin by halving and seeding the squash. Rub lightly with olive oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 375F until soft (about 45 minutes - 1 hour). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • In a large pot add the olive oil and onions and cook over medium heat until the onion is soft. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger, as well as the water. Scrape the insides of the squash into the pot and mix well. Be careful not to get the squash skin into the soup.
  • Add the milk and 1/2 of the goat cheese. Because the squash is already soft you do not have to blend this, however for a creamier texture I did blend it. If the contents of the pot don't fit in your blender mix in small batches.
  • Serve hot with harissa and extra goat cheese on the side.
3.1
http://marocmama.com/2012/01/paula-wolferts-spiced-butternut-squash-soup.html

     I’m linking this recipe up to the January FaveDiets Blog Hop – Soups

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vegetarian eid soup

Eid al Adha is right around the corner (Sunday) and is perhaps most well known as the “sheep holiday”.  Muslim families purchase a live ram and on the morning of Eid sacrifice the animal.  This is done as a remembrance of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son on God’s command.  At the last minute God replaced Ismail with a ram.  After the sacrifice families separate the ram into three parts; one for themselves, one to share with friends or family and one to donate to the poor.

Many women pride themselves on creating a wonderful meal on Eid, making many dishes that only make an appearance for this holiday.  One obvious staple is plenty of sheep.  This year we’re not making our own sacrificing but allowing a relative in Morocco to do the sacrifice for us.  We’ve consciously cut out a lot of red meat from out diet and neither MarocBaba or I would eat enough of the meat over the year to warrant buying one.  Frankly, I’m still pretty full of meat from our trip last month.  This got me thinking about others who are either vegetarian or just don’t like mutton.  There generally aren’t a lot of options for them on the Eid table.

I created this very healthy and filling soup to fill the void.  I used Saffron Road broth to speed up the cooking time and add a really great flavor.  I love Saffron Road because all of their products are halal and completely natural, but also many of them are gluten free.  I stopped using canned or boxed broths awhile ago because of the high sodium levels and blah taste but Saffron Road broths are really different – so much flavor.

There is a little bit of prep work to make this recipe but it’s well worth it.

Pre-cut all vegetables (love the purple potatoes don't you)

Gnocchi can be made ahead of time and frozen until ready to use.

 

Vegetable and Ricotta Gnocchi Soup

Ingredients

    Ingredients for Soup:
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1-2 small to medium potatoes
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1 1/2 cartons Saffron Road Vegetable Broth (if not wholly Vegetarian the Chicken Broth is great too)
  • salt, pepper, cumin for seasoning at the end
  • For the Ricotta Gnocchi
  • 3 cups of AP unbleached flour + more for dusting
  • 32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • To make the gnocchi start by placing the ricotta in a strainer or on top of cheesecloth suspended over a bowl. This is to drain any excess water out of the cheese - leave for 30-60 minutes.
  • In a stand mixer add 2 cups of flour and the parmesan cheese. Mix using the flat beater. Once the ricotta is strained add this to the flour along with the eggs. Mix on a low speed to combine everything, adding the final cup of flour as the mixture combines.
  • The gnocchi will be ready when it has a thick and slightly sticky consistency. Chill for 20 minutes before rolling.
  • Remove from refrigerator and pull off a ball of dough. Dust a flat, clean work surface with flour and roll the dough into the shape of a snake. You can make it as fat or thin as you'd like. I make mine about the size of a dime. Cut off pieces of the dough about every 1/2 inch. Use a fork to make a depression on the tops of each one.
  • Set aside in a single layer. If you don't plan to use all of them they can be put on a cookie sheet and flash frozen for 30 minutes, removed and stored in a freezer - safe ziploc bag.
  • Making the Soup
  • (I like to do all of the prep work first and then add ingredients as needed)
  • Prepare the lentils by soaking in warm water for 30 - 60 minutes before cooking. The longer you leave them to soak the faster they will cook. Peel the carrots, potatoes and zucchini and cut into small cubes - keep them separate from each other because they will be added to the pot at different times.
  • In a heavy bottom pan or dutch oven add the olive oil and garlic and turn on medium/high heat. When it starts to sizzle pour some of the Saffron Road broth into the pot.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and add the rest of the carton of broth. Drain the lentils and add them, as well as the potatoes and carrots.
  • Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Allow to cook 45 minutes and check the tenderness of the lentils and vegetables. If tender, add the 1/2 carton of broth and the zucchini and peas.
  • Place another pot of water to boil (for the gnocchi) at this point. Once it boils add the gnocchi. It will only take a few minutes to cook and you will be able to tell it's done when they float.
  • Remove from the water with a slotted spoon, add a small amount of the cooking water to keep them from clumping.
  • Serve the soup and gnocchi in separate bowls, encouraging guests to take the amount they would like of each. This will help with any leftovers there might be as the gnocchi tend to break down if left in liquid. Top each bowl with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
3.1
http://marocmama.com/2011/11/a-vegetarian-eid-al-adha-with-saffron-road-food.html

Here are some of the other great things Saffron Road has going on around the web this Eid;

Great deals on their products at Whole Foods and Kroger nationwide!

A giveaway for a copy of Clean Your Kitchen Green from Yvonne of My Halal Kitchen and free product coupons on their Facebook page.

Speaking of My Halal Kitchen – make sure you check out these two posts to get ready for Eid too!

Follow Saffron Road on Twitter and Facebook for updates and new product releases.  Visit their website to find your local grocery stores that carry Saffron Road products.
What’s on your menu for Eid?  Do you have other meat-free ideas to share with other readers?
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post however I did receive free Saffron Road products to create this recipe.  

   This recipe has been linked to FaveDiets November Blog Hop.  

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My kids LOVE pumpkin seeds.  Actually they love any kind of seeds or nuts, sunflower seeds, soybeans, almonds, peanuts, squash seeds, you name it and roast it -they eat it.  We had two organic pumpkins to carve for fall/Halloween and while I had dreams of roasting and eating the pumpkins the kids had other plans.  I had gotten everything ready for gutting and carving including a garbage bag.  This was met with cries of disgust.  “Why are you throwing those away?  You need to cook them for us!!”  Out came the large mixing bowl to save all the seeds.
 
pumpkiin seeds
 
The kids did most of the gutting and then the seeds were passed on to me to clean and cook.
 
But what could be better than regular ‘ole roasted pumpkin seeds?
 
Harissa Coated Roasted Pumpkin Seeds!
 
I had a jar of Mina Harissa just waiting to be tested out in a recipe.  This was perfect.  We bring home a new jar of harissa from Morocco every trip.  However the harissa we get is usually close to a paste in consistency.  From first glance, the Mina harissa has a bright, vibrant red color.  The smell on opening is inviting not frighteningly spicy.  With a much thinner consistency than what I was used to I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out.  I’m happy to say they worked and tasted really wonderful.  Not too spicy but with enough of a kick to know you’ve eaten something with a little bit of a bite.  The recipe couldn’t be easier.
 
mina harissa
 

Spicy Organic Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp Mina harissa
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Instructions

  • This recipe is to make pumpkin seeds using seeds extracted from a pumpkin. After removing the seeds place into a mixing bowl and clean any excess pieces of pumpkin "guts" from the seeds. Add plenty of water to the bowl to cover the seeds (they will float).
  • I allow my seeds to soak for 2-3 hours in the water and add 2 tbsp salt to the water as well. This is optional
  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • In a small bowl mix together the harissa and olive oil. Drain the water from the bowl with the pumpkin seeds and pour the harissa mixture on top of the seeds. Use a spoon to mix, ensuring all of the seeds are covered.
  • Pour the seeds out onto a baking sheet in a single layer.and bake for 20 minutes or until the seeds are crunchy.
3.1
http://marocmama.com/2011/10/spicy-organic-pumpkin-seeds.html

I really enjoyed Mina Harissa and now you’ve got an opportunity to try it too!! I’ve got one extra jar to giveaway to one lucky reader.  Here’s how to win;

Mandatory entry: Leave me a comment and tell me your favorite use for harissa, OR if you’ve never tried harissa tell me why you’d like to!

Additional Entries: 

  1. Like Mina Harissa on Facebook
  2. Follow Mina Harissa on Twitter
  3. Tweet about this giveaway (sample tweet): “Roasted Organic Pumpkin Seeds with @harissa – a great fall treat and a chance to win Mina Harissa with @marocmama http://goo.gl/b18rP”

Giveaway ends November 7th and I will notify the winner within 48 hours.

 Don’t forget to make yourself some tasty pumpkin seeds with Mina Harissa!
This giveaway has ended.

organic pumpkin seeds

Disclosure: I was not compensated for writing this review however I did receive a complimentary bottle of Mina Harissa.  All opinions are my own.

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Dips and scoop-able salads are really big at our house.  It seems to me that in Middle Eastern/North African cuisine dips are just an excuse to eat more fantastic bread.  I’m ok with that.  I came up with this dip during Ramadan as a side dish for iftar.  It came together out of a bunch of leftovers and a can of great northern beans.  When I shop I always try to get a few pantry items that I have no immediate plans for.  Then when I’m feeling an itch to make something new I have a bunch of different options.  It probably adds $5 to my weekly grocery bills but when I’m in a pinch or just needing to feel creative it’s right there.

I’m curious to know – do you only cook from recipes or do you like to be adventurous too?  What’s the best thing you ever made up?

White Bean Garlic Dip with Green Olives and Tomatoes

10 minutes

10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 can of Great Northern Beans
  • 4 oz sour cream
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 roma tomato chopped coarsely
  • 1 handful of pitted green olives chopped

Instructions

  • In a food processor add the beans, sour cream, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth. Place the dip into a bowl and top with the olives and tomatoes. Serve with pita bread, or another chip or bread.
3.1
http://marocmama.com/2011/10/white-bean-garlic-dip-with-green-olives-and-tomatoes.html

 

 

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One of the most unique items that has come in our CSA box is soybeans…on the stalk.  Trust me my first thought was, what am I ever going to do with this? A little research showed me that you can’t eat the beans on the pod.  That’s a good thing because the pods are a little bristle-y.  So I sat down and started to pull off all of the pods.  I think I had about 10 stalks/plants and ended up a huge overflowing bowl of pods.

I soaked them in a little water to remove any dirt or grime (looking back not sure why since you can’t eat the pods!) You can’t eat these soybeans raw.  So I boiled a huge pot of water and filled it with the pods.  Once they started to open up I removed them.  Extracting the beans from inside was then much much easier.  You can’t eat the outside of the pod so they all went in the garbage.

After extracting all of the seeds the options are to roast them or freeze them.  Soybeans (or edamame) can be used in a variety of ways.  I came up with this recipe for Moroccan roasted Edamame based on a snack pack I had gotten that had some Asian spiced edamame. Edamame do make a great snack because they have a ton of protein and really the only fat in this recipe is in the olive oil, making this an overall healthy snack.

 Ingredients

  • 2 cups of shelled edamame
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Mix together the olive oil and spices.  Pour on top of the edamame and mix to coat all of the beans.  Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.  Spread out the beans in a single layer and slide into the preheated oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until the beans are crispy.  Enjoy hot or cool!

**If you don’t have fresh edamame you can buy them frozen in most grocery stores.  Thaw them before coating in the spice mixture but you’ll end up with the same great results (and a lot less work!)

 

 

 

 

 

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I live in Wisconsin, the dairy state.  Perhaps you’ve heard that we are known as the dairy state.  However there are some disturbing TV commercials that try to claim that happy cows are in California, ergo California should be the new dairy state.  It’s a bit of a controversy.  So I’m calling this pizza the settlement pizza because it’s the marriage of California and Wisconsin.  Featuring Lindsay’s California Green Natural olives and Wisconsin-made Queso Fresco cheese, this thin crust pizza makes a great appetizer pizza or main dish when served with a green salad.

Sauce:

  • 1 tomato skin removed
  • 4-5 garlic scapes trimmed (or 5 garlic cloves)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
Pizza Dough and Toppings
  • 1 can Lindsay Olives Green Naturals sliced
  • 3-4 oz Wisconsin Queso Fresco crumbled
  • store-bought pizza dough (or your favorite homemade version)

 Directions

To make the pizza sauce put all of the sauce ingredients into a food processor.  It is a thin sauce so don’t be afraid if it’s not thick like a traditional sauce.

I used a stone baking pan but you can use what you have.  If baking in the oven a cookie sheet will do the trick.  If you’re going to grill it I recommend using  a stone baking pan or pizza pan.

Next chop up your olives.  I used only green but you can use a combination of green and black.  You’ll want to use plenty of them!

Crumble the queso fresco all over the top of it.  The amount of cheese you use is really up to you.  I like lots, you might not – that’s ok too.

Then put in a preheated 375F oven until the crust is baked and the cheese is bubbly and browned on top (should take about 20-25 minutes).  If you’re grilling, I recommend doing it on a charcoal grill that is still hot.  It will take longer on the grill but the pizza will have an added smoky flavor.  Make sure before putting in the grill that your pan will fit (guilty of not doing this). Again you’re looking for a baked crust with a bubbly cheese top.

Taa daa!!!  There it is!  Cut into slices and serve while still hot.  You won’t even miss not having meat on it.

Are you enjoying these olive-licios recipes?  I’d love to hear some of your favorites!!  I hope that you’ll join me on Monday August 1st at 8 Central time for a twitter chat talking about your favorite summer entertaining recipes using olives.  I’ll have some great questions and trivia planned.   Please leave a comment and let me know if you’ll be able to make it!  We’ll be tweeting under the hashtag #olivesummer

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We’re working really hard to cut down our meat consumption for a few reasons.  One reason is that we buy free range organic meat and/or halal meat and it’s a bit pricier than your run of the mill meat.  We also are very aware that on a whole, society, especially in the US, eats way more meat than they need to.  Did you know animals eat 16 times as much grain as the meat they produce?  They also require a huge amount of water resources (something to the tune of 5,200 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef).  In order to be good stewards of the environment we must all make conscious decisions about the food choices we make.

Cutting out meat means being more creative in what I cook.  The great thing about Middle Eastern and Moroccan food is that a lot of it is heavy on vegetables to begin with.  Sometimes we have to be reminded how lucky we are to have so much meat at our disposal when much of the rest of the world is lucky to eat meat once a week or once a month.  In my quest to make tasty non-meat meals one of the recipes I came up with was for lentil burgers.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe of Moroccan lentils (leave off onions)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 baked, boiled or mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley or cilantro
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 medium cucumber grated
  • feta cheese – as much or as little as you like
  • 1/2 tsp cumin

Directions

Prepare lentils according to recipe and allow to cool, making sure the lentils are very soft.  In a large bowl mix the lentils and potatoes together.  Add the harissa, salt, garlic, parsley or cilantro, egg and bread crumbs.  Mix everything together.  If it is too wet add more bread crumbs.  If it isn’t holding together crack another egg and add a little egg-white at a time to create a consistency similar to a hamburger.  Defrost the peas and add in last.

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil.  Form the lentil mixture into patties and place into hot oil.  Cook on each side 3-4 minutes until heated through and the patties are browned.  Remove from pan and blot off an excess oil (though there shouldn’t be much).

In a small bowl add the Greek yogurt, cucumbers, feta and cumin.  Mix well.

Place 1-2 patties on a plate and use yogurt mixture as a garnish.  Serve with a micro-green or spinach salad.  These also could be eaten on pita bread with a tangy goat cheese.

These were a great alternative to a hamburger or kefta sandwich.  I can’t wait to play around with this recipe more.

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