Nothing says “autumn!” with quite the same throaty voice than does Moroccan food, and our own penchant for this spicy, earthy cuisine first hit us when we watched “Casablanca.” We immediately knew whatever brought Bogey and Bergman together undoubtedly brought us to the love for olives, figs, dates and lamb. Now, fall means Bogey means Lamb Tagine.
Plus, there’s a couple of millennia of history, which we Millennials find rather wonderful.
If you visit http://www.foodbycountry.com/Kazakhstan-to-South-Africa/Morocco.html, you will read, “Nomads called Berbers were the first inhabitants of Morocco over two thousand years ago. They used local ingredients, such as olives, figs, and dates, to prepare lamb and poultry stews. Over time, traders and conquering nations introduced new food customs. Among them were the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans. However, the strongest influence on native cooking was the Arab invasion in the seventh century A.D.”
You’ll also learn that unlike other African countries, Morocco, which is at the top of the continent and has coastlines on both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, produces all the food it needs to feed its people. “ Its many home-grown fruits and vegetables include oranges, melons, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and potatoes. Five more native products that are especially important in Moroccan cooking are lemons, olives, figs, dates, and almonds.”
Yum, right? Moroccans eat bread at every meal, which we find admirable. And the national dish is the tagine, which is a lamb or poultry stew. Admirable and yum in one neat package. The tagine is traditionally cooked in an earthenware pot, and we now give you the recipe. You’re welcome. It looks daunting, but really you should have most of the spice already in your kitchen. BTW, for more on Moroccan food, go to http://moroccanfood.about.com/od/Moroccan-Culture/tp/Essential-Ingredients-In-Moroccan-Cooking.htm.
For the recipe, go to http://allrecipes.com/recipe/18182/moroccan-chicken/. This is cooked on the stove in regular cookware.
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast meat – cubed
2 tsp salt
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 Tbs minced fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1 c crushed tomatoes
1 c canned chickpeas, drained
1 zucchini, sliced
1 Tbs lemon juice
Season chicken with salt and brown in a large saucepan over medium heat until almost cooked through.
Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Sauté onion, garlic, carrots and celery in same pan.
When tender, stir in ginger, paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper and turmeric; stir-fry for about 1 minute, then mix in broth and tomatoes. Return chicken to pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add chickpeas and zucchini to pan and bring to simmering once again; cover pan and cook for about 15 minutes, or until zucchini is cooked through and tender. Stir in lemon juice and serve.