Moroccan cuisine uses all available vegetables in the country. Our mothers usually have one prevailing logic with their children when it comes to food (and that start at a young age): eat your vegs or stay hungry! It kind of works because you will end up eating whatever is served.
In most of the cases, I didn’t eat what was served and stayed hungry. However, even if I didn’t like some food, at least I saw it being cleaned, cooked or preserved. I believe that in societies like ours, this happens to be a great mean to transfer knowledge. I also feel lucky that I grew up where processed food did and does not get anywhere near the real food.
The best meat that goes with this dish is lamb or beef. I like it with lamb shanks
Cauliflower is one of the smelly vegetables we cook à toutes les sauces (in all kind of sauces, which means in many ways).
We use cauliflower to make starters such as fritters with batter or simply using eggs, or a cold cauliflower caviar. We steam the vegetable and serve it with a sort of vinaigrette. We make cauliflower-baked gratins either with the cauliflower being the main vegetable or in a vegetable medley. Finally, we cook cauliflower tagines with different recipes.
One of my favourite cauliflower recipes: a baked gratin with a medley of vegetables but cauliflower is the main one
I particularly love a cauliflower gratin or a steamed cauliflower florets with vinaigrette. I do enjoy our Moroccan cauliflower caviar (same recipe as the one in the link). I do like the usual white cauliflower soup but to my knowledge, there is nothing of that sort in our traditional kitchen.
Today’s recipe is my mother’s Moroccan cauliflower marka, which is equivalent is a ragout/stew with sauce.
Merka or marka refers to the runny sauce. We dip our Moroccan bread with a hearth to eat it.
You can cook the Moroccan marka with cauliflower in a tagine or a deep cooking pot. You could also use a pressure cooker to cook the meat faster.
This tagine can sometimes be served with a yellow marka (sauce) using turmeric and saffron or a red-dish sauce using tomato paste and paprika. The version I am posting today is more of a m’chermel version (using the chermoula ingredients)
Moroccans tend to cook vegetable until they can just about hold their shape, cauliflower is no exception. You may adjust this to your liking but I still prefer to eat a cooked-through cauliflower as it also helps with the digestion.
If you choose to use beef meat, I suggest you add a small teaspoon of smen (Moroccan cured and aged clarified butter) in the beginning of the cooking process.
Prep: 5 min – Cooking time: 90 – 120 min
0.7 kg to 1kg beef or lamb cuts with bone in (I prefer lamb shanks)
1 big head of cauliflower or 2 medium
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tomato, roughly chopped and seeds discarded
3 cloves of garlic, grated
1 tsp of turmeric (this can get a boost by yellow colouring)
1 tbsp of ground ginger
A few saffron threads (optional)
1 tsp of ground black pepper
1 tbsp of paprika or 1 tbsp of tomato paste
1/2 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of salt
1 tbsp of olive oil (use more if you opted for lean beef)
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
1 small bouquet of coriander
2 tablespoons chopped parsley and coriander
The juice of 1 lemon
1/2 preserved lemon (skin and pulp, discard seeds)
Place a deep cooking pot over medium heat. Mix the onions, meat and spices and sauté for a few minutes. Add water to cover the meat, the bouquet and the garlic. Cover and let simmer over low-medium heat until the meat is tender. Check the level of water during the cooking and add some if you have to.
In the meantime, blanch or parboil the cauliflower florets and leave stalks in salted boiling water for 7 min. Transfer them to a strainer and refresh them with cold water. Set aside and discard the water.
Add tomato, cauliflower, cumin, the chopped herbs and a bit of preserved lemon. The vegetables should be dipped in the marka at least to their 3/4.
Let simmer until the cauliflower is tender and the sauce is reduced. Add the lemon juice and knock off the heat.
Plating and serving
Start with the meat at the bottom, scoop some sauce and add it on top and all around then build up with vegetables. Finish off the plate with preserved lemons and olives (optional).
Nada Kiffa is an Expert in Moroccan cooking and her recipes are coming from a lineage of Moroccan home and professional cooks.
Cooking classes and posted articles are inspired by her family life in Morocco and elsewhere. You will learn what makes a dish Moroccan before learning how to execute it. You will also learn how to work around recipes and cut corners without missing on the flavour.
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