Due to its geographical position and close historical links with other countries, Morocco’s cuisine is a melting pot of many cultures and traditions. Its culinary culture is a unique blend of influences from the indigenous people, traders & conquering nations who brought with them new ingredients, customs and cooking methods.
The nomadic tribes called Berbers were the first known inhabitants of Morocco over two thousand years ago & their style of cooking can still be seen today in Moroccan coking. They were keen to create dishes whose ingredients complimented & enhanced the flavor of each other & so mixed local ingredients such as olives, figs, & dates with lamb or poultry & spices in one pot to create stews with distinctive flavors.
Moroccan cuisine is typically a mix of Mediterranean, Berber and Andalusian cuisine. The Arabs also introduced sweet-and-sour cooking, which they had learned from the Persians and were joined by the Moors from Andalusia in southern Spain between 1462 & 1615 who in turn have influenced Moroccan cooking. The most famous example is the pastilla, or bisteeya, a popular pigeon or chicken pie served at weddings and other parties, which is originally a Moorish dish.
Morocco’s vast coastline provides a wide variety of seafood to the nearby cities and villages. Inland, the soil is surprisingly very fertile allowing cereals, a large range of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables and even some tropical ones to grow in abundance and also providing an ideal environment to raise sheep, chicken, camel, rabbit, and goat, which serve as a base for the cuisine. Beef is not plentiful, so meals are usually built around lamb or poultry. This is also due to the fact that Moroccan lamb has a more favorable, less over-powering taste than other types. As the North African sheep breeds store most of their fat in their tails, it means that their meat does not have the pungent flavor that Western lamb & mutton have.
Here are some delicious Moroccan inspired lamb recipes for you to try at home.
Moroccan Lamb Kofta with Cumin and Minted Yogurt Sauce – Presented by Alami Rahim
Moroccan Style Lamb Shanks
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 meaty lamb shanks (about 1 1/4 pounds each)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon harissa or other chile paste
1 cup dry red wine
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1/4 cup slivered almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
One 10-ounce box instant couscous
1 cup water
1/4 cup dried currants
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Add them to the casserole, 2 at a time, and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and wipe out the casserole.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the casserole. Add the onion, carrots and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and cook, stirring until lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
Add the tomato paste and harissa and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and boil until reduced to a thick syrup, about 4 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and 1 cup of the chicken stock to the casserole. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Nestle the lamb shanks in the liquid.
Cover tightly and braise in the oven for about 3 hours, basting occasionally, until the meat is almost falling off the bone. Transfer the shanks to a platter and cover with foil. Leave the oven on.
Spread the almonds in a pie pan in an even layer and toast for about 10 minutes, or until golden.
Strain the sauce into a bowl, pressing on the vegetables; skim any fat. Return the sauce to the casserole and boil over high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Return the vegetables and lamb to the sauce and keep warm.
In a small bowl, mix the mint with the cilantro and almonds and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the shallot and cook over moderately high heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the couscous and cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock, the water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the currants. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in half of the herb-almond mixture.
Mound the couscous in the center of a large platter. Arrange the lamb shanks around the couscous and spoon the sauce on top. Sprinkle with the remaining herb-almond mixture and serve.
Oven Baked Moroccan Lamb Meatballs
Add one egg per pound of meat. No bread crumbs.
Ok I just edited this so this is basically the recipe for 1 pound of meat.
So just multiply recipe by however many pounds you have. I use this method for all my recipes so I can feed 2 or 500 people and stay consistent.
Crack egg. Add all spices to egg. Whisk until u get a nice thick paste then add meat. This makes sure that you don’t get spice clumps and more uniform mixture.
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp paprika 1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp mg cayenne
2 shallots or one small sweet onion diced. Caramelized.
1/5 cup parsley cilantro. Chopped
1 tsp garlic
Easy way? Grab a good can of DOP tomatoes. Crush by hand. Add olive oil. Salt. Parsley and a tablespoon of harissa or chili paste. Low heat in pot of big pan.
Bake meatballs halfway in oven on low heat.
Add meatballs to sauce. Finish cooking in sauce.
Serve over couscous or quinoa. Poached egg on top.
Moroccan Spiced Lamb Stew with Pearl Couscous
75g / 3oz / 1/2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
15g / 1/2oz / 1 tbsp butter
225g / 8oz lamb, cut into cubes
1 onion, cubes
450g / 1lb tomatoes, peeled and chopped
a few celery leaves, chopped
30ml / 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
15ml / 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
2.5ml / 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2.5ml / 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
5ml / 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1.75 litres / 3 pints / 7 1/2 cups water
75g / 3oz / scant 1/2 cup green lentils
75g / 3oz vermicelli or soup pasta
2 egg yolks
juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
salt and ground black pepper
fresh coriander (cilantro), to garnish
lemon wedges, to serve
Drain the chickpeas, rinse under cold water and set aside. Melt the butter in a large flameproof casserole or pan and fry the lamb and onion for 2 -3 minutes, stirring, until the lamb is just browned.
Add the chopped tomatoes, celery leaves, herbs and spices and season well with ground black pepper. Cook for about 1 minute, then stir in the water and add the green lentils and the soaked drained and rinsed chickpeas.
Slowly bring to the boil and skim the surface to remove the froth. Boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 2 hours, or until the chickpeas are very tender.
Season with salt and pepper, then add the vermicelli or soup pasta to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes until it is just tender. If the soup is very thick at this stage, add a little more water.
Beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice and stir into the simmering soup. Immediately remove the soup from the heat and stir until thickened. Pour into warmed serving bowls and garnish with plenty of fresh coriander. Serve the soup with lemon wedges.
If you have forgotten to soak the chickpeas overnight, place them in a pan with about four times their volume of cold water. Bring very slowly to the boil, then cover the pan, remove it from heat and leave to stand for 45 minutes before using as described in the recipe.
Moroccan Inspired Lasagna
FOR THE LAMB RAGU:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground lamb
3 oz. (about 1 dozen) dried apricots (I like the no sugar added kind), roughly chopped
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 and 1/2 tbsp ras el hanout*
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
FOR THE FETA BÉCHAMEL:
2 and 1/2 cups whole milk
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cumin
4 and 1/2 oz. feta, crumbled
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan (I use a grated parmesan and romano blend from a local Italian specialty shop)
salt and pepper
FOR THE LASAGNA:
9 oz. box no-boil lasagna noodles (I actually didn’t end up using about 2-4 noodles from the pack)
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
2 oz feta, crumbled
1/4 cup grated parmesan
FOR THE LAMB RAGU:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook for 5 minutes until the onion is softened. Add in the garlic and bay leaves and good for about a minute, until fragrant.
Push the onions and garlic off to the side, and add in the lamb. Brown it for a couple minutes, without moving, before flipping and breaking it up. Continue to cook it for another few minutes until completely browned.
Add in the apricots, mix everything together, and cook for about a minute. Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices; cook for 15 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
FOR THE FETA BÉCHAMEL:
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Continues whisking and cook for 3 minutes, until thickened.
Remove from heated stir in the cheeses until melted (the feta may stay a little clumpy but that’s totally fine!).
FOR THE LASAGNA:
Spray the bottom of your own with nonstick spray. Cover the bottom in a layer of pasta, then spread on half of the ragu. Pour 1/3 of the béchamel on top of that. Add another layer of pasta and then the remainder of the ragu. Add another 1/3 of the bechamel, and another layer of pasta. Sprinkle on the shredded mozzarella, and drizzle with the remainder of the béchamel. Finish with the feta and parmesan.
Now you can cover with foil sprayed with nonstick spray, and place in the fridge (or freezer!). When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for an hour with the foil on, then remove the foil and cook for another 15-20 minutes.