Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Something new ...

I've read that Moroccan cuisine, a mixture of European and African cooking, is the last of the great undiscovered cuisines. It's definitely a style of cooking I'm not familiar with. Located in Northwest Africa, with Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines, Morocco is a land steeped in mystery and adventure, a place where the sun is warm and the people are enigmatic. To me it is a far away place where the exotic cities of Tangier, Marrakesh and Casablanca beckon with the lure of a camel ride across the desert or snake charmers in a crowded market.

Included in Moroccan cooking are the tasty dishes of the workers and peasants. In their daily meals, little meat is used. Grains and vegetables are combined with numerous herbs and spices to produce savory and satisfying fare. The herbs used: chervil, garlic, fresh coriander leaves, mint and parsley are blended with these spices: aniseed, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, paprika, pepper, saffron, turmeric and ras el-hanout (a blend of spices) to produce mouth-watering dishes. To give these non-meat creations even more zest, onions, olives, pickled lemons, almonds and sesame seeds are utilized extensively.

Soups are the mainstay of the Moroccan people and at times their only meal of the day. They're based mostly on chickpeas and lentils. Infused with herbs and spices, they become delightful creations.

I just got this easy recipe from my Gather friend, Shan. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it. I think next time, I'll add cumin and sweet paprika, but it was delicious just the way it is here. The cinnamon gave it a new and interesting flavor that I loved with the bite of the cayenne.

4 cups chicken broth (or use vegetable)
2 cups cooked chickpeas (I used 2 cans of chick peas, rinsed and drained)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can artichokes, drained and chopped
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t basil
1/2 t oregano
1/4 t cayenne
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I didn't add any salt)
Couple handfuls fresh baby spinach
Bring everything to a simmer in large soup pot over medium low heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook another 5 minutes or so.
Serve with pita bread.


  1. interesting history/geography/recipe lesson. i have been wanting to try several moroccan recipes from "how to eat supper". your post only fuels my interest! wonder if there is a good moroccan restaurant in the twin cities...

  2. just made the soup ~ it was amazing! perfect for a gloomy march evening. i served it with toasted pita bread and goat's cheese ~ perfection!