Moroccan fried eggs with khlii

Moroccan fried eggs with Khli’ – Lbid bel khlii : A breakfast from Fez

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Khlii is to Fassis (peole from Fez/Fes) what water is to anything that lives…on water; It’s something we should have in our cupboard/larder.freezer or fridge at all times whether to use as is or as a condiment in many of our stews, soups and salads.

Mind you, it was not a delicacy before our time as it was rather a way of preserving meat and serving it during bad days (financially and naturally).

 

 
Nowadays, that it has got its fame, including across Morocco itself, Khlii has become at thing and it has become widely available in Moroccan markets. Then again, not all is good enough for a connoisseur palate. 
 
In the world of khlii, there is good and bad, if you don’t know your source, you might end up with a nasty stinky surprise that will put you off this centuries old delicacy.
 
 
 
The recipe I’m posting today is considered to be our “fry up” formula for a good morning. It’s fried eggs with khlii, as easy as it gets especially if you know some old tricks to get it right and to avoid an indigestion. After all, we are dealing with cured meat which is most of the times preserved in a good layer of fat and you want to make sure you handle it to the best you can for the sake of your digestive system.
 
The recipe is simple. However, you need a few hints to gets it right so you avoid an indigestion but also to avoid burning those dear nuggets of khlii which is after all the star of the show. It’s actually not a recipe per se because it depends on how much khlii and eggs you want. It’s even ridiculous to think about quantifying these two BUT, because I want to share the best way to handle this breakfast option, I’m writing it down with quantities. 
 
Different ways to prepare and serve Moroccan fried eggs with khlii

Different ways to prepare and serve Moroccan fried eggs with khlii. Credit @Nada Kiffa

Ingredients
Serves 2 
Prep: 1 min – Cooking: 1 min
  • 2 to 4 eggs
  • About 1/2 cup of khlii, fat preferably scarped off for most of it (optional) and khlii snipped off to little nuggets
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • A pinch of cumin
  • A pinch of salt to taste (Khlii is already salty)
  • A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

 Preparation

  • On a medium heat, place a non-stick frying pan or a small tagine with water and the nuggets of khlii scattered inside it. Use a heat diffuser if your tagine can’t take direct heat. The traditional way does not call for scrapping off the excess fat/suet surrounding the khlii as the eggs should “fry” in it.  However, you can put most of it back into the khlii jar (*)
  • Once the fat/suet has melted, delicately crack in the eggs (**).
  • Season with cumin and salt. Cover and let the egg whites set and the yolk cooked from the edges. I usually knock off the heat at this stage.
  • If you are using a regular frying pan, flip the eggs just a few seconds before flipping back the whole serving in a serving dish.
  • If you are using tagine, be aware that the clay holds the heat and you have to let it work for you, you don’t have to flip the eggs, just place the tagine in the middle of the table as it keeps bubbling away and the egg yolks are slowly setting. It only requires a few more minutes.
  • The lemon juice could be added before adding the eggs to the warm khlii or just before serving. The first option is the ideal one.
  • Enjoy your fried eggs warm with a hot Moroccan mint tea or any hot infusion. Never to be eaten with cold drinks.

Notes

 */ You could also leave it to melt but before adding the eggs, pour most of it back in the jar if you don’t want to deal with it in the beginning. In this case, make sure to clean the outer edges and the bottom of the pan with wet kitchen roll.
**/ It is important not to burn or dry the little nuggets of khlii. To avoid that, make sure you add the water mentioned in the recipe but also to crack the eggs in once you see that most of the fat/suet has melted. Most of all, it’s important to cook this on medium-low heat.
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A serving of Moroccan spiced Msemmen bought from a stall in Safi

Giant Moroccan spiced onion Msemmens from Street food Morocco

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During these hot summer days, I can only salute these people who work so hard, outside in the heat, to earn a living, especially our superwomen who are the pillars of their families!

I remember the day I took these photos, we’ve just finished our late lunch after visiting the clay and pottery making shops in Safi. It was just too hot out there and these women, after clearing up the little shop from all things related to lunch, they had to get on the things to be done for snacking time, namely msemmen and harcha.

The grandma was in charge of chopping while the daughter was in charge of cleaning the little shop/restaurant/joint. Finally, the grand-daughter who was on summer break was in charge of making the giant msemmens (stuffed and plain) and the mega-harcha. It was all about teamwork!

Usually, these mega creations get sold by weight so one can only ask for 1 Moroccan Dirham and get an individual slice (cut like a wedge). That’s a snack on the go.

This spiced msemmen is not far from the one posted previously. It’s done the same way only on a larger scale but instead of fresh tomatoes, tomato paste is added to the mix. It may not be the case for some other vendors..

The main spices remain paprika, cumin and a discreet chili powder addition hardy noticeable.

The main herb used is usually parsley (a great deal) but a bit of coriander could be added to.

These giant squares are for plain msemmen, prepared next to the spiced msemmens

You will find the spiced onion msemmen sold in most of the cities. Just look for it around 4 -5 pm..Whoever prepares it and sell it always sell Moroccan tea with it. They’re a marriage made in Heaven.

My portion..eating it while strolling the Safi old market

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A serving of stuffed Moroccan msemmen with onion and spices

Stuffed Msemmen with onions and tomatoes

Msemmen is a wonderful North African laminated pancake or bread. It can be enjoyed plain, served with honey or filled with different mixtures. Similar panfried bread can be found in Asia (i.e paratha in India)
We love Msemmen so much that we can have it any time of the day along with a glass of Moroccan tea or any hot drink.
You actually can’t say you know about Moroccan food if you don’t know about Msemmen.
A small hand reaching to a serving of Moroccan stuffed msemmens with onions and tomatoes

Stuffed Moroccan msemmens with spiced onions . Credit @Nada Kiffa

A recipe with a story

Today’s stuffed Msemmen recipe comes from a wonderful old family neighbour nicknamed “Tanjaouia“. Her bright smiling face and name always brings back so many sweet memories.
Thankfully, she’s still alive and it’s always a pleasure to see her whenever I’m back home as she comes to visit when she knows I’m around.
Tanjaouia must have been such a beautiful woman in her youth, her old wrinkled face can tell. It can also tell that she’s been through a lot in her life. I vaguely remember that she’s lost her husband when I was still little and she went on to raise 6 children, most of them succeeded in their lives and started their own families.
She also managed to keep her little villa neat and looking good all these 30 years after her husband passed away..
The weirdest thing is that I really don’t know her real name. Tanjaouia just refers to her city of origin “Tangiers”. However, everyone called her so since I was little. I do know that she had the best green oranges in her garden and the best backyard where a variety of herbs grow with care. She also had a fig tree, a grape “dahlia” and a few other fruit trees. Most of all, she always had home baked sweets on the table.
I paid her a visit a couple of years ago and it brought me 30 years back down the memory lane. The garden is almost the same. So is the kindness of this woman.

A bit of know-how

Tanjaouia’s stuffed Msemmen recipe is very simple as the filling does not need precooking or cooling time. It just needs some care when flattening the pancake so you don’t end up with many holes.
It’s actually not much of a recipe since I will only give you guidelines. Each msemmen is different in size and the filling depends on that really..
Onions and tomatoes msemmen recipe is not far from the stuffed ones we usually find sold across Moroccan cities for snack time (around 5 pm). Some omit the tomatoes and some add chopped long green peppers.
These stuffed Msemmens can be frozen and heated back in a hot oven or a hot frying pan.
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Ingredients

Makes 3 msemmens (about 20 * 20 cm squares)
Prep: 30 min – Cooking: about 5 min/Msemmen
Msemmen dough
  • 250 g of strong white bread flour
  • 150 g of fine semolina flour or durum flour
  • 1/4 tsp of dried instant yeast 
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 200-230 ml of water, lukewarm 
For the filling (adjust if needed)
  • 3 medium-size yellow or white onions, chopped or finely sliced (count 1/2 onion/msemmen)
  • 3 medium-size tomatoes, deseeded, chopped or finely sliced (count 1/2 tomato/ msemmen)
  • A cup of chopped parsley (about 2 to 3 tbsps/msemmen)
  • 3 tbsp of sweet paprika (count 1 tsp/ msemmen)
  • 1 tbsp of ground cumin 
  • Chili powder or cayenne to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional ingredients: chopped green or black olives, chopped green peppers

For shaping and laminating

  • 100 ml of vegetable oil
  • 100 g of fine semolina flour

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Preparation
Make the msemmen dough as shown here.
Once you get to the level where you flatten the dough thin, ready for shaping, spread the filling in the center and shape the square. In this recipe, you don’t need to use butter during the lamination process, unlike a plain msemmen. You will only need oil and fine semolina flour. You can use a mix of olive oil and vegetable oil.
Flatten another dough ball paper thin, scatter some filling and place one previously filled square in the center. Fold to form a bigger square. Set aside to rest and follow the same logic with the rest of the dough.
Fry the pancakes
Heat a non stick frying pan over medium-heat.
Go back to the first square you made as it would have had time to rest. Flatten it delicately and transfer it to a hot frying pan. Give it 2 minutes per side then start flipping over to make sure it’s all cooked through. The dough changes colour and the layers split.
Usually, when one filled msemmen is cooking, we flatten the next one and so on…
Serve warm with a good glass of tea or a mint infusion.
Note
If for some reason you are worried to pock them with many holes during the flattening process, shape them into small squares and bake them at 190 degrees C for about 20 minutes. The first day I made them, I chopped the onions and tomatoes fairly big, so I decided to bake the msemmens (which have become rghaifs). They turned out really good.
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Quince turnover or chaussons

Quince paste turnovers/chaussons

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Quince paste turnovers or chaussons has to be the easiest recipe of sweet turnovers. I only use leftover puff pastry dough to make this quick treat.

These quince paste turnovers can be served to satisfy a craving for a sweet bite but also served along some strong cheese such as blue cheese. They go well together if you omit the cinnamon.

Quince paste is a Spanish product sold in Northern Morocco. But you can also find it in Spanish shops (I found some in Notting Hill).

No quince paste? Make some quince preserve when they’re in season just like our Sephardic Moroccans do. Alternatively, you can perfectly use the Spanish Membrillo sold in packs.

No quince in sight? Use any thick jam but quince is majestic! So try to find it.

Ingredients
Serves 12 
Prep: 10 min – Baking: 15 -20 min

For the wrapping

  • 800 g cold all butter puff pastry (I use homemade puff or a croissant dough)
  • 1 egg yolk
For the filling
  • 400 g of quince paste or jam or preserve, shop bought or homemade, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
Egg wash
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp of milk or water

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Preparation
Preheat the oven at 220 degrees C.
Roll the cold dough in length and only 2 mm thin. Place a teaspoon of quince paste or a small but if quince preserve. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.
Smear the dough with egg yolk around each quince filling. Fold the dough on it and press to seal the edges of each half-moon.
Cut each turnover and place it on a baking tray covered with a baking sheet.
Egg wash, make patterns with a fork. Prick or make a hole in the middle to let the steam out during baking. Make sure the egg wash does not go over the edges or the dough won’t puff like in the picture.
Bake at 200 degrees until nicely golden.
Serve at room temperature, never hot or warm.
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