Aubergine or Mtabbal badinjane served with a cracker

Smokey and nutty Mtabbal Badinjan (or eggplant’s Mutabbal)

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Mtabbal Badinjan or aubergine/eggplant Mutabbal is hands down my favourite Levantine mezze.

How you prepare your eggplants will make all the difference in this famous Levantine mezze/starter.

Before we get on with the recipe, what looks like Mutabbal for some is considered Baba ghanouj for others. The two have many ingredients in common.

So the confusion is on a worldwide scale. However, if you go to a Syrian restaurant, they will be clear on which is which (on a general note), while some other Middle Eastern countries will call this Baba ghanouj (- the yogurt)

Roasting the eggplants in a oven would not give you an authentic smokey taste. Your best bet is charcoal or over an open flame of a gas knob  and you just rotate every 4 minutes until it’s done.

Now the seasoning of the mashed eggplants is also a matter of personal preference. Some like more tahini, some like more lemon..You just have to adjust it to your own taste.

Ingredients
Serves 4
Prep: 5 min – Cooking: 20-30 min

  • 1 medium-size eggplant/aubergine, roasted (char-grill or over a gas knob is the best option)
  • 1 tbsp of tahini
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of thick natural yogurt
  • 2 tbsps of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp of vinegar
  • 1 raw garlic clove , grated (or less, depending on the garlic used)
  • Salt to taste

For garnish

  • Good extra virgin olive oil
  • Paprika
  • Parsley, chopped
Preparation
Prick the eggplant in different places. Roast it until it looks withered and charred from outside. Place in a plastic bag for a couple of minutes then remove the skin.
Scoop the flesh and transfer it to a strainer. Press the eggplant against it and discard the liquid.
If you have used a type of eggplant which has a lot of seeds inside, discard them. Some are bitter.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mash the mix with a fork or chop them transfer to a pestle and mortar. Using a food processor for this is not my thing. I like a rough texture with tiny bits of eggplant.
Garnish it and dress it with the best extra virgin olive you can get hold of, Sprinkle some paprika and chopped parsley.
Serve chilled with pita bread or crackers…

Moroccan shakshouka where eggs are mixed with tomatoes

Moroccan tomato and egg breakfast – Shakshuka

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Chekchouka or Shakshuka or in Moroccan “bid we maticha” can be found all across the Arab world. It’s usually served for breakfast but we also make sandwiches to go for later on in the day. You will also find a Turkish version called Menemen with fried peppers.

The Moroccan name for this breakfast combination is called Bid we maticha (Eng. eggs with tomatoes). The young generation calls in BM or BBM.

My breakfast combo. I like bid we maticha scrambled while my mother likes a runny egg yolk

The recipe is simple as it consists on frying or stewing tomatoes in olive oil along with garlic, then come the eggs which could be poached or scrambled. The seasoning is paprika, cumin and hot chili powder for a hot variation.

In our family, we also like to add some green olives all around.

 

Bid we maticha, served to us on the way to Essaouira

You can order bid be maticha in many mahlabas as part of Moroccan street food. I also remember an old man serving it throughout the morning @ Marché Central/Casablanca. His clients are locals but also foreigners who managed to get his address |(smart pants!). I reckon Bid we maticha and Moroccan mint tea was all what he sold during the morning. then he closes around 2 pm! Job done!

Ingredients

Serves 2 – 4
Prep: 7 min – Cooking: 10 min

  • 2 cups of tomato pulp or skined and seeded tomatoes chopped in small cubes
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 to 4 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish

  • Green olives
  • Chopped parsley
If you want poached eggs on top, just ask the vendor.

 

Preparation

Cut the tomato from the belly into two, discard the seeds and grate it with large cheese grater. Discard the skin and collect the pulp.

I also used half chopped and half grated tomatoes for more texture

In a frying pan or a tagine over medium heat, heat half of the oil and fold in the tomato pulp and the garlic. Fry for about 7 minutes until the tomatoes seem to be cooked and the water evaporated. Season with salt, half of the spices.

I just added capers instead of olives (both are optional)

Add the rest of the oil and crack in the eggs one next to the other. Sprinkle the rest of the spices and cover.

Cook for about 2 minutes while pricking the eggs and opening pockets so the white cooks evenly. You could also beat the eggs before adding them to the tomato base, either you keep the layers separated or you scramble the eggs along with the tomatoes. It’s a matter of choice.

Enjoy with a hot Moroccan mint tea.

You could eat the leftovers cold. We usually make a sandwich to go with them.

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Moroccan rolls and triangles with pickles

Moroccan pickles and cheese sbiaats (rolls) for starters

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Moroccan pickles and cheese sbiaats (rolls) for starters is recipe as easy as it gets. You need a few ingredients and not much time to come up with nice crunchy Moroccan rolls for a starter, a buffet or just a light meal.

This is my auntie Charafa’s recipe

As explained in my previous post, do not be surprised to find rice vermicelli in a Moroccan pantry as it has become an ingredient of the Moroccan pantry for years now. It’s mainly used in soups or to stuff bastillas, rolls or Moroccan samosas (called briouats).

Now the rest of the ingredients is pickles (the usual mix found in Morocco), green olives, fresh herbs and cheese. What’s not to like?

I have to say that this is not a common Moroccan recipe, it’s my mother’s auntie who has come up with it about 15 years ago. I remember her shaping them as thin as a finger. Mines look 3 times larger! Good luck with that!

Ingredients
Serve 6
Prep: 10 min – Baking: 15-20 min

Filling
1 1/2 cup of mixed pickles (carrots, gherkins, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers) and green olives, finely chopped
2 cups of rice vermicelli, placed in hot water for 3 minutes, drained and slighly chopped
1/4 cup of spicy cold cuts, chopped (optional)
3/4 cup of grated cheese (Edam, cheddar)
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsps of butter, melted
1 tbsp of harissa or to taste
2 tbsps of soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Wrapping and shaping
About 10 sheets of warka or phyllo (large)
1/4 cup of clarified butter, melted and cooled

 

A mix of pickles and olives before chopping them

Preparation

Mix all ingredients. Correct the seasoning. Set aside.

 

Unfold a warka sheet, brush it with butter. fill and roll or shape triangles.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C until nicely golden. It could take 15 to 20 minutes depending how thick/thin they are.

Serve warm or just about cold, as a starter to a dinner or lunch along with salad leaves. We like to serve extra soy sauce or harissa on the side.

You may freeze these pickles and cheese rolls unbaked but never baked. Just put them straight into the oven and they will be fine.