Moroccan Sephardic recipe of chard with meat stuffing.

Moroccan Stuffed cardoons with kofta

Stuffed cardoons or Dolma of cardoons is an interesting Sephardic dish found in a few areas of Morocco. However, it’s even more interesting that not all Jews of Morocco seem to cook it.

Not a common recipe across Morocco

Although stuffed cardoons is a recipe that can be found in some Jewish Moroccan cookbooks.

In “Ch’hiwate Bladi” , our famous Choumicha went accross Morocco to showcase traditional regional cooking to the Moroccans. The show had such a success because of the things each of us learned about the rest of us. A brilliant show where many of us discovered the multigrain couscous and a few other goodies from remote regions throughout the country. The whole thing got picked by Non Profit associations to promote rural women’s work; the rest is history…

The episode I mentioned earlier covered some of the recipes from Ksar Lkbir; a Northwester  city of Morocco with Portuguese and Spanish fingerprint due to a tumultuous colonial past. So like many other cities in Morocco; they have an interesting Moroccan repertoire!

How to cook stuffed cardoons

The sauce or marqa is usually cooked with chunks of meat in it, which makes it rather a broth for the cardoons that will be cooked it later. But you don’t have to do that as you can use any form of stock you have.

When I posted pictures of this recipes on the facebook page, I was surprised to read posted insults from some of our Algerian neighbors claiming that the recipe is solely theirs. It turns out that Algerian cuisine does have a variation of this but with different set of spices and usually with the addition of an egg to thicken the sauce.

In one of the recipes published in her old magazine, Choumicha refers to a fried dolma of cardoons. She mentions the addition of an egg and flour to coat the cardoon sandwiches before placing them over a meat stew


Moroccan Sephardic recipe of chard and cardoons with meat stuffing

Moroccan Sephardic recipe of chard with meat stuffing. Credit @Nada Kiffa


Serves 2
Prep: 30 min – cooking: 45 min

  • 1 head of cardoon (use chard (*) as an alternative)
  • 2 lemons, 1 juiced and one in quarters
  • A string

For the kofta filling

  • 200 g of minced beef (or lamb, from the shoulder part)
  • 1 glove of garlic, crushed or grated
  • 1/2 medium-size onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tbsps parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of salt or to taste
 For the sauce
  • 1 l of stock (beef or chicken)
  • 1 glove of garlic, crushed or grated
  • 1 medium-size onion, chopped
  • A few sprigs of parsley thighed together
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 preserved lemon, use the pulp only (leave the skin for decoration)
  • 1 tsp of Moroccan smen (my addition, totally optional)
  • ¼ tsp of ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil
  • Salt to taste
Bunches of chard (white and red)

Bunches of chard (white and red). Credit @Nada Kiffa

Prepare the cardoons
Mix water and lemon juice in a large bowl where you will be placing cardoons while you are cleaning them. They will turn dark in contact with air so make sure this is handy.
Use the other quarters to rub each piece of cardoon after you would have peeled it off.
Discard the leaves and remove the stringy bits from each side and all around the cardoons.
Cut the cardoon stalks into pieces about 5 cm long.
Mix the ground beef with the rest of the ingredients and start pinching small balls which you need to roll into thin “fingers” or small sausages which would fit inside the cardoons you’ve cut previously. Set aside.
In a cooking pan, add a few tablespoons of water and add the rest of the ingredients for the sauce.
Place the pan over medium heat and let simmer for about 3 minutes. until the onions are partially cooked and then place the cardoons in. Add enough water to cover them and place the lid on.
The cardoons have to be cooked to tenderness so we can work with them at a later stage of the recipe. This should take about 25 min (**).  
Once the cardoons are tender. Couple each 2 bits to fit each other in size and place the minced beef inside. Tie up each sandwich cardoons with a string (or on the lazy side, use a toothpick from each end)
Place the sandwiched cardoons into the sauce. Cover with the lid and cook for further 10-15 min. The sauce should have reduced by then too.
Discard the string and place the cardoons sandwiches/dolma delicately in the serving dish. Serve hot with a drizzle of lemon juice for extra freshness.


(*) I have used chard a few times because it’s relatively hard to find cardoons where I live. You could use the leaves for other dishes and keep the stalks to make the dolma.(**) Initially, cardoons are parboiled in salty water before stuffing them with minced meat but I find cooking them in the broth/sauce/marqa more interesting.


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