A serving of Moroccan brain starter cooked with tomatoes

Moroccan cow/calf or sheep brain’s with tomato sauce and chermoula

Sheep’s brain is of Moroccan dishes we cook during Eid Al Fitr (feast of sacrifice). But in Fez, It’s served as a cooked starter during family gatherings and usually the plates go back empty.

There are 2 ways to make this meal starter: It can be cooked with tomatoes or without. If you want to make a meal out of it, crack eggs at the end of the cooking process and scramble them in the sauce.

A serving of Moroccan brain starter cooked with tomatoes

Moroccan sheep brain cooked for Eid. Credit @Nada Kiffa

This cooked Moroccan starter is cooked “Mchermel” style. The vinegar (not lemon) adds an acidic note to the spiced tomato sauce which has a bit if chermoula mix in it. It balances the dish perfectly.


Serves 6
Prep: 15 min – cooking: 30 min

  • 4 sheep brains or 2 calf brains
  • 3 medium-size tomatoes, seeded and peeled then grated or finally chopped (optional)
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste (optional, for colour and acidity)
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp of coriander, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil



  • Wash the brains. Basically sheep’s brain hardly needs any peeling, You just discard any bloody bit while if you have bought calf’s brain, you will need to peel off all the veins and the bloody bits. Do it delicately using your fingers.
  • To ease up the process, you can dip the brain in boiling water with  a couple of tablespoons of vinegar for 30 seconds (no more) and pull it out.
Optionally, you can marinate the brain in vinegar, spices and herbs and cook it later
  • Cut the brain into chunks and mix them with the herbs, spices and vinegar. Set aside while the tomato sauce is in the making.
  • Over medium heat, mix the tomatoes with the garlic, stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup of water and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the chunks of brain into the sauce, stir and make sure all sides have been in contact with the tomato mix. Cover and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes over medium heat, the sauce should have thickened by them.
  • Stir in the olive oil just after you knock off the heat.


Moroccan cow or lamb brain can be served warm, at room temperature or chilled. We always serve it as a starter.

The sheep or calf brain in tomato sauce keeps up to 4 days in the fridge.

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