Food for Thought

Today, read about a new cookbook featuring Moroccan recipes, Sharing Morocco: Exotic Flavors From My Kitchen To Yours by Ruth Barnes. Read about tagines, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and other spices and recipes to experiment with in your kitchen.


Ruth Barnes, originally from Morocco, grew up on a farm in Israel and learned to cook from her mother and sisters who prepared meals daily for their large family. Her cookbook has chapters on drinks, salads, soups, tagines, main courses, street foods, sides, and desserts.

Moroccan cuisine which is influenced by Spain, France and Tunisia uses spices such as ginger, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric pepper, paprika and saffron which create multi leveled flavor profiles. While there are recipes that call for a tagine, the worlds’ oldest slow cooker, a crockpot can be substituted or Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid.

I am always looking for new preparations of family favorites and a chicken soup recipe which uses cilantro, turmeric and celery root and the slow cooker Moroccan brisket with apricots and prunes, a hearty dish, which also incorporates cumin, sweet paprika, cinnamon, allspice and optional honey, caught my eye. Other recipes on my “to try” list are baked eggplant salad, spicy carrot soup with ginger and I certainly cannot ignore the chocolate baklava. Tea lovers will appreciate the information on Moroccan tea culture and how to brew mint tea.

The recipes are easy to follow, pictures colorful, and tips and techniques informative. Here is a recipe for you to try:

Lamb Tagine with Apricots and Prunes (Tagine del Kebsch bil M’shmash ul Birkok)
Serves 4 to 6

This sweet and savory dish pairs wonderfully with dried fruit and nuts, such as apricots, prunes, and walnuts. Dried fruit is frequently used in Moroccan cooking; look for fruit that is still somewhat moist and not too dry.

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1½ cups low-sodium beef broth
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried, pitted prunes
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, for garnish
½ cup walnut halves, for garnish

1. In a cooking tagine or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and brown the lamb on all sides. Remove the lamb to a platter.

2. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Return the meat to the pan and add the cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cumin, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes.

3. Add the beef broth. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes.

4. Stir in the honey, apricots, and prunes, and cook for a further 15 minutes.

5. Remove the lamb and fruit from the tagine and place on a serving tagine or platter. Spoon the sauce over the meat and fruit.

6. Garnish with the walnut halves and sesame seeds.

Recipe from Sharing Morocco: Exotic Flavors from My Kitchen to Yours by Ruth Barnes
Greenleaf Book Group/October 2014

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