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

Still on offal cooked the Moroccan way, here is a dish mainly cooked during the feast of sacrifice and served as a cooked starter: Cow or sheep brain cooked in a tomato sauce.

In Fez, this cooked salad is also served during family gatherings and usually the plates go back empty.

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
  • 400 g of tomatoes, seeds and peeled them chopped
  • 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 tbsps of coriander, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tbsps 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.

Some like a lot of olive oil in this dish, like my sister

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.

Author: Nada

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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