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Moroccan Cuisine Recipes

by Elaine Sosa

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The following recipes have been provided by the cultural section of the Moroccan Embassy in Washington, D.C. Enjoy!

serves 12

Note: this dish is made of fine layers of almost transparent pastry called warka, akin to the pastry used for Chinese spring rolls.

2 chickens (about 4 1/2 lbs. of meat)
6 C. chopped parsley
3 lbs. onions
8 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. saffron (crushed saffron flowers)
12 oz. almonds (and oil to fry them)
1 C. sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the chickens and put whole in a thick-bottomed saucepan with the salt, chopped parsley, grated onions, pepper, saffron, cinnamon and sugar. Add a small amount of water, and add more if there is no liquid left before the chickens are cooked. Cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time.

Take out the chickens when cooked, removing any stuffing which may have gotten inside. Allow the stuffing to cook longer, stirring constantly until all the water has evaporated. Add the eight beaten eggs and stir constantly, then remove from heat. Cut up the chicken meat. Skin the almonds and fry them in oil until they begin to color, then turn into a strainer. Crush the almonds coarsely in a mortar or through a vegetable sieve, using the widest grid. Mix with a little sugar. Add three tablespoons of the oil used to fry the almonds to the stuffing, putting the remainder of the oil aside.

To complete the bisteeya you can use a round, tin-lined copper utensil ("tbsil dyal bisteeya") with a diameter of about 19 inches. Oil the bottom and sides of this or a baking dish. Cover the dish with a first layer of twelve sheets of pastry, shiny side down, overlapping them and sticking them with beaten egg yolks. Make sure that the outer sheets hang over the edge of the dish. Cover with a second layer to strengthen, then a layer of stuffing,, another layer of pastry (but without going over the edges of the dish), then the pieces of chicken. Sprinkle with the crushed almonds. Fold back towards the center the pastry which overlaps the edge of the dish, sticking them together with beaten egg yolks. Place two more layers of pastry, shiny surface up, overlapping them again and with the edges hanging over the edge of the dish. Tuck these edges under the bottom of the bisteeya as if making a bed. Brush surface and edges with egg yolks and oil remaining from the almonds. You now have a flat pie about two inches thick.

Cook the bisteeya in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Turn out onto a baking sheet, and about 15 to 20 minutes before serving, brush with oil again, put back in the oven and brown the other side. To serve, turn the bisteeya out onto a large plate, sprinkle the top liberally with powdered sugar and finish off with fine criss-crossing lines of powdered cinnamon.

Harira Soup
serves 4

Note: this hearty Moroccan soup, of Berber origin, is typically served as the evening meal during the holy month of Ramadan. It is an excellent cold-weather soup.

1 C. chick peas/garbanzo beans
1 C. lentils
1 C. dried peeled fava beans
1 1/2 C. white flour
1/2 C. oil
1/2 C. rice
1/2 C. vermicelli
2 T. tomato paste
1 lb. plum tomatoes, peeled
1 medium to large onion
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 small bunch parsley
2 sticks celery
4 quarts water (continue to add water as it evaporates)
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. yellow root ("kharqoum"), often used in Indian cuisine
1 T. salt
2 cloves garlic

Chop all the ingredients finely and place them in a large pot (note that the chick peas need to be soaked overnight to ensure their cooking well with the other ingredients). Save the vermicelli and the flour for the last stage. Let the soup boil for 40 minutes. When the chick peas are cooked, add the vermicelli. Mix the flour in a bowl with warm water until it is liquefied and there are no lumps. Add some lemon juice and pour the mixture into the pot very slowly while stirring with a large wooden spoon. The result should be a thick soup; add more flour if it is too watery. Add a raw egg to the soup if desired.

serves 8-10

Note: this roasted lamb dish is usually served for special occasions or on religious holidays.

7-8 lbs. lamb (shoulder and rib portion is best)
1 T. paprika
1 t. cumin
4 ozs. melted butter
salt to taste

Rinse the meat. Mix together the paprika, cumin, butter and salt and spread over the lamb. Loosen some of the skin just under the shoulder and put a little of the mixture inside. Cook in a moderately hot oven with the fleshy part of the meat facing down. Add a glass of water and baste with the resulting juices from time to time so that the meat does not become dry. After two hours, turn the meat over and cook the other side until golden brown. Continue cooking for another thirty minutes, then remove once you have checked that the meat is tender enough to be torn off with the fingers. Arrange on a dish without the gravy. Eat while piping hot, seasoned with cumin and salt.

Mint Tea
serves 4-8

Note: this tea is typically served in small, slender glasses.

green tea
sugar cubes
fresh mint sprigs

Rinse a large teapot with two quarts of hot water. Place two or three teaspoons of green tea in the pot and pour a little boiling water over it; remove the water afterwards. Add lump sugar to taste (usually 20 cubes for a large teapot) and fill the teapot halfway with boiling water. Add fresh mint sprigs and let steep for several minutes. Serve the tea in the glasses.

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