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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Morocco -- The Moroccan Pantry

Typical ingredients used for Moroccan cuisine:

Almonds - used in most meals for crunchiness scattered on the top of a dish.  Toasting or frying almonds deepens their taste and gives them their crunch.

Argan oil - is a rich nutty, dark golden oil and one of the country's most prized and most expensive food products.  The limited and labor-intensive production is done today almost exclusively in women's co-ops.

Couscous - refers to the dish and the tiny "grains" formed from hard durum wheat or sometimes corn.  Couscous comes in various types and sizes.

Dates - are a staple as well as a  symbol.   They are traditionally offered to guests with a glass of milk and are the first item eaten with the breaking of the fast during Ramadan.

Dried figs - are either pale yellow, flattened and stacked or strung together or they are fatter and pear-shaped.

Dried apricots - contribute an appealing tartness. brilliant color, chewy texture to tangines, and are often coupled with prunes.

Honey - used to caramelize onions and fruits for tagines, found in desserts and sweets, eaten for breakfast with flatbreads, or drizzled over yogurt.  It's also a base for many traditional medicines and ancient therapeutics externally and internally.  Honey has a symbolic role at weddings. births, and during mourning when it's served for three days following a death.

Khlea - dried. seasoned (salt, garlic, cumin, sweet paprika, crushed coriander seeds) strips of beef (sun-dried. boiled) are an ancient way of preserving meat.  

Lben - buttermilk from cows, sheep, goats, camel

Olive oil - accounts for 16% of oils used.  There are 16,000 traditional oil mills.

Olives - go back to the first millennium BCE when Phoenicians introduced the olive tree and Romans expanded cultivation.  Moroccan groves produce table olives and olives for oil.  

Preserved lemons - a trademark of Moroccan cuisine, they are a unique ingredient whose tight, tart flavor adds a pungent boost to dishes from salads to baked fish and chicken tagines.

Prunes - dark, shriveled, and sticky dried plums.

Raisins - sweet. dried grapes are integral to many sweet-and-savory combinations with dark or golden raisins in countless dishes from vegetable couscouses to desserts.

Semolina - ground hard durum wheat that is fine or coarse and used for couscous.

Smen - clarified and preserved salted butter with a distinctive earthy or cheesy flavor and aroma to a number of traditional dishes.

Vermicelli - short. thin noodles added to soups and even steamed in
a couscoussier, sweetened, and eaten on their own or as a side dish.

Walnuts - commonly found in desserts.  The wood of the walnut tree is used to make fine wide. shallow platters (gsaa), used for preparing couscous and dough. 

Warqa (or Ouarka) - fine, paper-thin pastry sheets used for savory stuffed pastries and layered desserts.  They are made by smearing a fine coating of damp. sticky, elastic dough across a wide, hot griddle before peeling it off after 15 seconds.  Phyllo dough and Chinese spring roll wrappers are slightly thicker and a substitute.

Aromatic Herbs:

Bay leaf
Lemon verbena
Mint (peppermint and spearmint)
Zaatar (thyme and oregano family)


Black pepper
Cayenne pepper
Chaste tree berries
Chili powder
Coriander seeds
Cubeb pepper (resembles black peppercorn)
Fennel seeds
Galanga root
Grains of paradise (cousin of cardamom. ginger. artichoke)
Gum arabic or gum acacia
Juniper berries
Long pepper
Nigella seeds
Orris root
Sesame seeds
Sweet paprika
White pepper

Spice Blends
Harissa - spicy chili paste
Msakhen - used as a spice aphrodisiac and aid to conception
Ras el hanout - 20-50 spices 

Orange flower water
Rose water

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