Morocco! What a Surprise in a Tagine, Fez Style!

23 Jan

Well! I had the delight of experiencing a superb meal!   Invited to make a stop at my friend’s Mom house, before we headed down to the city.    He did say he’d call the day before and his Mom was expecting us.

Linni is her name and when we arrived at her building, as we got closer and closer to the apartment, the hallway had this superb smell of spices.

With a knock at the door, escaped more!  The home smelled wonderfully, leaving me to be awfully hungry.   For I was n’t even thinking of food before I’d arrived!

Here is this 5′ 3″ woman opening the door, quite beautiful, you can tell she was a head turner in her younger years!  Followed by four to five hugs, she said she was so glad to see us and she made a little something!

Arron headed straight to the kitchen, then I hear this yell of happiness!  His Mom made homemade bread and his favorite dish made of lamb, fez style I’m told with couscous!

“Come sit down”, Linni said.  You can tell she was so happy that we were there!   Her home is quite lovely, very warm from all the cooking, the windows were full of steam!!!   As I’m sitting,  Arron pours some wine and then returns with his Mom, with a beautiful pot like dish, one by one, I’m told it’s called a tagine.  We all sit and I’d removed the lid!

There was a beautiful lamb shank in a wonderful sauce, surrounded by an array of vegetables, a side of couscous; with a slice of homemade bread! Then I tasted it!  OMG! All the flavors were so good and powerful, I was trying so hard to familiarize myself with the seasonings;  for they all worked so well together!   I started to eat slowly, I wanted to savor it and did I!  Arron kept kissing his Mom!  AMAZING!!!

Linni was so happy that I’d enjoyed her dish, she kept hugging me!  I knew it was a treat for her to prepare it and Arron, he kept saying, “I have to be in the kitchen with her so I can perfect my cooking.   I just love her!”   I said “Linni, you are the best!”

We stayed a little longer than we thought; for we talked about childhood in Medina Marrakech, Morocco< this was not a typical stop by at all>.  Then we helped clean up, there were pots and pans everywhere!  It was truly a beautiful night!

What an experience! Moroccan food, a first for me and not my last!  Here’s the recipe for the dish, now I did NOT get it from Linni!  She just smiled when I asked; Arron may have told her that I burn, literally!!  So I looked for the recipe on the Food Network and surprised how many flavorings and spices used!! Guess what? It’s worth it!  Here’s to trying new things!!!!! 🙂

If you have some tips in making this dish, please share!

Letia 🙂

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked and peeled
4 cups couscous (1 1/2 pounds)
4 lamb shanks
1 stick butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and 1 tablespoon black pepper
Pinch of saffron
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cinnamon sticks
3 onions, quartered
6 each cilantro and parsley sprigs, tied together
6 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and quartered
1 pound carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 pound small white turnips, quartered
1 quince, peeled, cored and cubed
1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 pound zucchini, quartered
1 fresh hot chili pepper
1 cup raisins
Ghee* Smen** (aged butter) or butter

PREPARATION:
In a saucepan cover chickpeas with water and cook, covered, until tender.  Drain, cool and remove skins. In bottom of a couscous, Pre-heat 5 tablespoons of butter and oil over until hot, add lamb, salt and spices, onions, herb sprigs and tomatoes and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Add 3 quarts water and chickpeas and simmer, covered, 1 1/2 hours.

Cut meat into chunks, discarding bones. Add carrots, turnips and quince to lamb broth and simmer 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan cover squash with broth from lamb stew and simmer until tender.

To lamb broth add zucchini, chili pepper, and raisins. Top with colander containing couscous, cover and steam 20 minutes. Dot couscous with remaining butter during last 5 minutes of steaming.

To serve, spoon couscous on to serving dish and toss with Ghee*, Smen** or butter. Spread out to form a large well in center. With a slotted spoon transfer meat and vegetables into well. Add drained squash.

Strain broth, correct seasoning and moisten couscous and vegetables with broth.

*Ghee (Clarified butter) **Smen (Aged butter)

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