In honor of our upcoming Tagine contest, we will be sharing our favorite Moroccan recipes all month long! Here is a look at how to start your own tagine inspired meal…
Every great cultural cuisine seems to have a way to begin a meal. Italians often start with an antipasto, which literally translates to “before the meal.” Although the ingredients of antipasto vary, the intent is the same. It extends the meal and stimulates the appetite. Moroccans often have a medley of salads to begin their meals. Paula explains that in some first class restaurants in Marrakech you can expect at least a dozen small plates. “A symphony of contrasting colors and shapes.” This salad recipe was the perfect starter to accompany and compliment our chicken with preserved lemons and green olives tagine. It was just enough to stimulate my appetite, and allowed for conversation that the main course immediately halted.
Carrot and Golden Raisin Salad from The Food of Morocco:
8 ounces large carrots
1 tablespoon sugar
one 1″ Ceylon cinnamon stick
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 Tablespoon orange flower water
1. Trim and peel the carrots, half them lengthwise, and cut out an discard the hard core. Cut the carrots into 1/4 inch dice, place in small saucepan, add the sugar, cinnamon stick, salt, lemon juice, and water to cover. Cover and cook until tender. Drain carrots in a colander set over a bowl and quickly use the hot water to soak the raisins.
2. When liquid has cooled down, drain the raisins and mix with the carrots and orange flower water. Pack into a 2 1/2- 3″ rounded mold and chill overnight.
(This step didn’t turn out well for me, my mold didn’t mold my dish.”
3. To serve invert dome onto a plate.
This dish is served at Al Fassia restaurant in Marrakech. Paula describes these salads as,”Gems that sparkle in the crown of a great national cuisine.” This leads me to wonder, what would be the crown jewels of American cuisine? When I think of a traditional American starter, I think of a dinner salad. Greens covered in dressing, with croutons, a tomato wedge, and maybe a cucumber. Sad… Maybe I need to look at our nation’s cuisine differently. If I look at our cuisine as a mosaic of different cultures, my perception of an “American starter,” has endless possibilities. What do you consider to be the best way to start a meal? Is there a dish your family has traditionally prepared for years? Maybe you seasonally utilize your regions best ingredients. Share with us your recipes and ideas for how to begin a meal.