In 2016, I went on a trip for my 30th birthday. One of the places I went was Morocco and it was love at first taste, easily some of the most flavourful and memorable food experiences I’ve ever had. I brought back some spices with me but it’s hard to recreate some of the dishes, given some of the ingredients aren’t available in Canada. We had some friends over a few weeks ago so I challenged myself to come up with a Moroccan meal; a chance to practice some dishes that I enjoyed from my trip.
We started off with a few appetizers. I made an orange salad with radishes and mint with a unique dressing made from lemon juice and orange blossom water, salt and cinnamon. I had some thin pita bread to eat with some olives (Moroccan sundried black olives and lemon olives that I marinated with harissa, parsley and lemon juice) and fried halloumi in olive oil with dried mint and sumac and lemon. Halloumi isn’t necessarily something I had in Morocco but it tasted really good 😛 The orange salad was super fresh, almost like a fruit salad but somewhat savoury because of the radishes and salt!
The main event was a beef short rib tagine with dates.
I steamed some couscous with cardamom and parsley. To garnish the tagine I toasted some almonds and added cilantro and preserved lemons. To braise the short ribs, I browned them and then cooked them in an oven for around 2.5 hours in a liquid of onions, dates and spices (cinnamon, ginger powder) and water. The meat was falling off the bone and the couscous was fluffy!
Finally, to complete this marathon of a meal, I made some saffron ice cream. I bloomed the ground saffron over an ice cube, which develops the flavour beautifully. Saffron is pungent and aromatic but I definitely didn’t shy away from it. The colour turned the creme anglaise ice cream base an amazing deep yellow. For a bit of texture I added chopped salted pistachios and a generous drizzle of honey for sweetness.
Overall, this was a fun meal to make and share with friends. I hope some of these flavours inspired you to cook some Moroccan food too!
-The Simmering Pot