Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nabila's Weekday Lentils

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lentils: Moroccan quotidian food

When you want something that will take you through the next 5 days of classes, lentils are the way to go, and I’m throwing in some long hot green peppers for added spiciness. The Arabic name for lentils is ‘Adas, but when texting or chatting online, the word appears as something like 3adas. I’m not sure how this system of transcription evolved—wikipedia says it’s an ad hoc development necessitated by the limited options of cell phone keypads, numerals being presumably easier to type than an apostrophe—but I like it, and most of my Moroccan friends and students enjoy when I use it on Facebook or in a text message—to them, seeing a non-Moroccan doing this is like watching a dog playing the piano.

There are a number of distinguishing consonants in the Arabic alphabet which are velarized or pharyngealized versions of the same unemphasized consonants that are represented in English using d, th (as in these), s, and t, and the glottal letters g, k, and h. These other consonants give Arabic its very throaty sound, because the consonants are articulated further back along the alveolar ridge and soft palate, and provide a deeper coloration of the surrounding consonants, so that “sad” with the unemphatic “s” becomes something closer to “sod” with the emphatic “S”, also known as the letter “Saad”.  The most difficult character for many English people to get their tongue (and throat) around is the “Ain”. It was described in my Arabic alphabet primer as a voiced version of the unvoiced “H” sound one would make while fogging and cleaning ones eyeglasses. That “H” sounds itself is the emphatic version of the unstressed “h”, which is the last letter in the name “Allah”. The stressed H is represented in text messages using the numeral 7, and the “Ain” is represented as the numeral 3. In fact, in its standalone appearance, unconnected to other letters, the “Ain” appears as a reversed “3”, or “ع”. And ‘Adas, which begins with the letter “Ain”, appears as 3das or 3adas in text messages or in Facebook chat.

Since these 2 letters are very common in Arabic, you’ll see a lot of 3’s and 7’s in text messages, along with other numeral used to represent the emphatic, or what I call “deep-throat” consonants.

So quotidian are lentils, that along with loubia, a white bean dish, and bisaara, made with dried cracked fava beans, they are the most common legume dishes in Morocco.

  • 1/2 kg. lentils (about 2 cups, or 1/2 liter), washed and picked over
  • 1 liter of water
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine 
  • 1 tomato, grated
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 3 long green hot peppers, sliced lengthwise, for a spicy flavor (as desired)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
Pressure cook the lentils and water on setting 2 for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, collect the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.
When the lentils have been pressure cooked, relieve the pressure and drain the water. Combine all the ingredients and boil for 25 minutes longer. Serve with fresh bread. 

Hadith... It was narrated from Jabir bin ‘Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “The food of one person is sufficient for two, the food of two is sufficient for four, and the food for four is sufficient for eight.” ...

Nabila's Spicy Harira

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Harira: Moroccan comfort food

Harira is basically a spicy Moroccan tomato soup with a lot of other things. For a full pot of Harira, we used a whole kilo of tomatoes.

1                 large onion, whole            1 c               flour
1 kg             tomatoes                         1 c               water
1 sm bunch  celery leaves, chopped    
1 sm bunch  parsley, chopped              1 140 g. can tomato paste
1 large cup   chick peas                      
1 tbsp          olive oil                         
1 tsp            salt                                 1 sm. bag     sharia pasta (soak first)
1 tsp            ground plack pepper       
1 tsp            ginger                            
½ tsp           turmeric                          1 sm bunch  cilantro, chopped
2 liters         water                              1 cube knorr bullion

Combine the onion, celery leaves, parsely, chick peas, olive oil, salt, pepper, ginger, turmeric, tomatoes, and 2 liters of water in a pressure cooker, and cook under pressure (setting #2) for ½ hour. Remove from pressure and check if the beans have been cooked. If not, cook another 15 minutes

Remove the pressure cooker and allow the pressure to drop before opening pot.

Remove the whole onion with the boiled tomatoes, and puree in a blender, or with a hand-held blender.

Strain the tomato and onion puree back into the cooked beans, herbs, and spices

blend flour and 1 c. water, and add to thicken the soup
Add the small can of tomato paste, and bring the soup to a boil on the stove for 10 minutes

Add the soaked sharia pasta and stir continually for 10 minutes to avoid having the pasta coagulate at the bottom of the pot.

Add chopped coriander and 1 cub of knorr chicken bullion, cook for 10 minutes more, and serve with bread.

Nabila's Briouat with turkey

Tuesday, February 24 2015

Savory Briouat with turkey

We have made this recipe several times together, and it is so delicious. It's a labor because of all the folding of the triangles filled with the vermicelli and the other ingredients, but with two people, the time goes by more quickly. Since briouat is a snack, we freeze the unfried briouat, and it keeps for a long time. Just take it out and fry up a few when it's time to entertain (not much oil, just a little goes a long way)...I enjoy serving these to the students who come to the weekly lunches at the American Language Center when I'm the host, and when I have the time to prepare it. 

Nabila preparing a few briouat for snacks

The finished product before frying

¾ kilogram       turkey / chicken  cubed
1                     red onionد chopped
2-3 tbsp           olive oil
1/2 tsp             pepper
1/2 tsp             salt

1/4 kg bag       clear vermicilli

5-7                  carrots
1 tbsp              olive oil
½   tsp             salt
¼   tsp             pepper

2 Dh                coriander and parsely, chopped
1 Tbsp             harissa, about 2 tbsp, taste because it is hot
Dh                sliced green olives, about 1.5 cups
½  tsp           cumin 
½  tsp           paprika
1 lg cube         grated chicken boullion 

1 kg                 waraqa (filo dough) about 20 dirham

  • Brown turkey in oil, chopped onion, pepper and salt.
  • Pour boiling water over vermicilli to cook.  Prepare by chopping strands into about 3 inch sections. 
  • Grate carrots then place in a pan along with oil, salt and pepper. Cook briefly  then place in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Mix well.
  • Mix in the parsley, harissa, green olives, cumin, paprika, the grated boullion and finally vermicilli then turkey.

Nabila's Chicken Trid

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Moroccan Chicken with Trid

Nabila got this recipe from her mother, and showed me how to cook it.

Chicken with Trid: After the first heavenly bite

1 kg. trid, 
set aside

1.5-2 kg chicken, cut in quarters and washed in lemon juice and water

In a bowl, add the following::
3 onions, finely cut
1 tomato, grated
1 small handful parsely and cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic

Place the chicken and the sliced vegetables in a pressure cooker, and add the following spices:

1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp black pepper

Add about 1 teaglass (sm) of olive oil, and ½ teaglass of water

Cook the chicken with the all the other ingredients under pressure (steam setting) for 10 minutes, until it cooks down to a thick paste.

Add about 2 coffee mugs of water and cook under pressure (setting 2) for 30 minutes. Serve with trid, and the chicken will melt in your mouth!

Nabila's Perfect Loubia

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Loubia..Moroccan White Beans

This is our housekeeper Nabila’s method of cooking loubia. She also said you can use a little bit of khlea, preserved meat, for flavor.
Loubia or Fasoulya


  • 2 cups of northern beans, called loubia in Morocco. Elsewhere in the English speaking world, they're called "Great Northern Beans", "Navy Beans", or "Cannellini".
     soak the beans overnight, then cook under pressure (steam setting) for 10 minutes.

    In a bowl, add the following:

  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, 1 grated, and 1 chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • 6-10 sprigs of Italian leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tea glass of olive oil

    add the following spices:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper

Add the vegetable mixture to the beans in the pressure cooker, then add enough water to cover the mixture sufficiently by an inch. For a cooker that's 22 cm in diameter, that's a little less than 1 liter, or a little more than 1 quart. I did the math. Really. Because I can't really tell what an inch is when I'm pouring water into the cooker full of beans and seasonings, because the mixture starts to float as soon as the water level rises above the it.

Volume of a cylinder:

V=πr2where V
is the volume of water, 
is 3.14159, 
is the radius of the cooker, or half of the diameter, and 
is the height of water, 1 inch, or 2.54 cm. So, V=3.14159 X 11 cm X 11 cm X 2.54 cm = 965 cm3, or .965 liters. No kidding. Whoever says math is useless just doesn't know how to use it.

Cook the loubia under pressure (setting 1) for 30 minutes.
Check after about 20 minutes to see if the beans are tender.  If not, cook an additional 10 minutes or more until the beans are as soft as you like.  Add salt to taste, and serve with Khobz, Moroccan flat bread or crispy bread.  Enjoy!