Tajine is a popular Moroccan dish that takes its name from the special clay cooking pot where it is prepared, that is, the tajine pot.
The tajine pot is a heavy clay cookware with two parts: a very low-sided pot and a large dome-shaped cover specially designed to return all condensation back into the cooking pot, so the food never dries out even after a long cooking time.
The tajine dish is a traditional stew consisting of meat (often a combination of lamb and poultry) and fresh vegetables cooked atop a very low flame.
The thick and rich sauce is made from a variety of seasonings, including Ras el Hanout, a traditional Moroccan spice mixture which is often made of ground chili peppers, peppercorn, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and turmeric.
The meat is simmered for a long time to allow it to tenderize and completely absorb the flavors.
Fruits such as apples, pears, apricots, lemons, and dried prunes, can be added to the dish.
Hot and freshly cooked tajine is best matched with bread, rice, or couscous.
Moroccan chicken with plums and almonds
Moroccan chicken with plums and almonds is a classic Moroccan dish. The manner of preparation closely resembles that of the tajine, but for this particular recipe, special ingredients are added to give the dish its distinctive taste and appeal.
Like regular tajine, the chicken meat for this recipe is cooked under low fire for hours to ensure tenderness and maximum absorption of the flavors of the sauce ingredients.
The dried plums balance the meaty taste with a sweet and lingering sweet kick. The almonds, on the other hand, add crunch to every bite, taking the usual Moroccan tajine goodness up to another level.
Harira is a tomato and lentil soup, a Moroccan favorite especially during the Ramadan season, when it is served at sunset to break the fast or in the wee hours of the morning, just before fasting begins.
The reddish-orange soup is seasoned with fresh herbs and spices such as parsley, celery, ginger, saffron, onion, and pepper.
The preparation of the dish varies from household to household, depending on the preference of the eaters (or the cooks). Some add rice, noodles, or chickpeas to make the soup more filling. The broth can be thickened with flour or eggs.
It is often topped with hard-boiled eggs and dried fruit, and served with turmeric, salt, pepper, and lemon juice or a cheesy-tasting butter called smen.
Kofta is a traditional Middle Eastern meatball recipe. The ground meat – usually lamb or beef – is mixed with some rice, vegetables, and eggs; spiced with onions and a range of other spices; and shaped into a ball.
The manner of cooking the meatballs varies. They may be fried, grilled, baked, steamed, or poached.
The classic way of cooking kofta involves glazing the meatballs with egg yolk and sprinkling them with saffron.
Kofta is very popular even outside of Morocco. In some countries such as India, the meat in kofta is replaced with fish, shrimps, green bananas, or vegetables.
Merguez is a grilled sausage is made of ground lamb or beef meat cased in lamb intestines.
The reddish color of the sausage hints at its sharp taste and spiciness, which is achieved by mixing the meat with a lot of spices and seasonings. These include substantial amounts of harissa (a local chili sauce), chili pepper, garlic, fennel, and sumac, among others.
Moroccans often enjoy merguez with couscous or french fries, or as a meat filling for sandwiches.
Leftovers of the sausage can be used for cooking other Moroccan traditional meals such as the tajine.
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