Monday, July 28, 2008

Moroccan Lamb and Vegetables with Couscous

Following in my attempts to put to use the mountain of cookbooks I have, I picked up my North African Cooking, written by Tess Mallos. But the real reason I chose this cookbook is that I found locally raised lamb at the supermarket and knew that I would find a recipe in this cookbook. And I wasn't dissapointed.

Though the recipe looked overly complicated with too many fussy ingredients at first, by some miracle I found all of the ingredients. I mean, how many people have access to fresh fava beans? I was just lucky that I stumbled upon them at the market. But they weren't there last week. And I doubt that there will be any next week. Freak find. That's all.

Anyways, I love the flavours of Morocco. It's vibrant and full of spice. It's rich but fresh. I think I even prefer Moroccan food to Indian food. I find Indian food is very different from the culinary traditions of most Western countries. They have much vegetarian fare with mostly everything consisting of sauces you dip your naan in. This stew I made looks pretty similar to, say, an Irish beef stew but with different flavours such as turmeric.

*Note* I added the dates to this recipe. It needed a bit of sweetness. Dried apricots would also work really well. I also added the fresh herbs closer to the end of the cooking. Adding them at the beginning like Mallos says kills all the flavour the parsley or the cilantro might have.

Lamb and Vegetables with Couscous a.k.a. Seksu bil Iham
Inspired by North African Cooking by Tess Mallos

2 lb lamb meat (I had stew meat with the bone in. I didn't have to cut anything since the meat just fell off the bone in bite sized pieces once everything was cooked.)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 medium onions, cut into quarters (get a variety that's really pungent and oniony)
2 or more cloves garlic, crushed
6 dried dates, pitted and halved
3-in cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 lb ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (to peel, score tomatoes lightly and immerse in boiling water till you see the peel starting to, well, peel)
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups good quality and preferably organic chicken or vegetable stock (Mallos said to put water in here but come on...water?)
freshly ground pepper

4 medium carrots, cut into bite sized pie-shaped pieces
4 small white turnips, cut into bite sized pie-shaped pieces (any turnip would work well here if white turnips are not available)
14 oz (425 g) can of chickpeas, drained

1 cup shelled fresh or frozen fava (broad) broad beans
1 lb zucchini, trimmed and cut into bite sized pie-shaped pieces
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for dressing

2 cups instant couscous

Harissa for serving (a hot pepper sauce that really kicks things up here)

1. Trim excess fat from lamb. Warm oil in a large pot or a large stovetop tagine if you really want to go traditional. Add onions, garlic, dates, cinnamon and turmeric and cook very gently till onions have caramelized slightly. Make sure not to burn the garlic and spices.

2. Increase heat, add lamb and cooked till meat is browned. Make sure not to rip the meat off the bottom of the pot if it sticks. It will come off on its own when it has browned properly.

3. Add tomatoes, paste, stock, and pepper. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

4. Add carrots, turnips and chickpeas, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

5. Add fava beans, zucchini, parsley and cilantro. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

6. Prepare couscous and set aside, making sure to keep it warm.

7. Serve the "stew" in a bowl with a serving of couscous and garnish with cilantro and maybe a bit of toasted sesame seads...just for kicks. Don't forget to dip into the spicy harissa to add even more oomph to this vibrant dish.

1 comment:

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