Gluten-free Moroccan corn harcha

A gluten-free harcha-meet-ghrieba with Moroccan flavours, how about that for a treat? I thought you’d like it!

As much as most of our ghrieba recipes are on the chewy side and a few of them on the shortbread side ( of the baking textures, this one is rather a baked version of our national galette called harcha.

The recipe is easy to follow and I find it rather cool how we get to smash the dough balls against the baking tray before baking the lot.

Versions of baked harcha ghriebas can include mix of flour and fine semolina or/and coarse semolina and this will depend on families. Some regions do not even have any baked version at all so you may find Moroccans who have never heard of this, then you could introduce them. Take this opportunity to spread your knowledge and expertise in all-things Moroccan and introduce them to it.

 

My touch

Now corn harcha-ghrieba is usually good the first day it’s baked and we can give it another half day to appreciate it. It does not come wonderful after heating it so don’t go there.

However, I’ve come up with a way to make the pleasure last longer: I quickly soak it in a lemony basboussa-revani-like syrup but really quickly as it might breaks in crumbs, 100% corn products have this reputation of hardly keeping their shape if you try to fiddle with them. If you are known to be clumsy then take a tablespoon and poor the syrup on the ghriebas, I reckon 1 or two tablespoons for each ghrieba will do the trick. That way you will be safe. This soaked version keeps well for a few days in the fridge and can be served garnished or crumbled over freshly cut fruits.

I am giving all in grams so you can use the same weighting scale and one mixing bowl to make it.

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Ingredients

Makes +/- 12 ghriebas of 50 g each 
Prep: 10 min - Baking time: 20 min
  • 250 g corn flour (not corn starch)
  • 60 g of vegetable oil (originally 80 g)
  • 60 g of butter, melted (originally 80 g)
  • 40 g caster sugar (only half if not into too much sweetness, optional if using syrup)
  • 30 g orange blossom water
  • 150 g water at room temperature, might need another 30 g depending on the absorption
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp aniseed, slightly crushed
  • 1 tbsp apricot jam (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A good pinch of salt

Finishing

  • 50 g of corn semolina or flour for rolling the dough balls (optional but It helps with the final look)

Syrup (you may double it if you want them really soaked)

  • 1/2 cup of water (1 measure)
  • 1 cup of caster sugar (2 measures sugar)
  • 1 tbsp of lemon or orange juice
  • 2 rinds of lemon

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Preparation

Preheat the oven at 180 C. Line a baking tray with baking paper or grease it and dust it with corn grits.

A a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients with the butter and the oil. Rub with your hands as if you are preparing a shortcrust dough.

Incorporate the orange blossom water then the water gradually and combine with a whisk or with your hands. The mix might look runny so don’t worry. Let it rest for 2 – 3 minutes. The corn flour will absorb the liquid and the batter-looking mix will turn to a malleable pasty texture.

Grab some of the dough and roll it between the palms of your hands. You need between 40 and 60 g for each ball depending how big you want the harcha ghrieba to be. I usually forget this step all the time but you need to roll the balls in corn flour (the part for the finished look) and smash it at about 40 cm height on the baking sheet. It helps with the cracking.

Arrange on the baking tray, leaving a bit of space between each unit.

Bake ghriebas for +/- 25 min  180 C. I usually rotate the tray after 15 min baking. They should look nicely golden. Set aside to cool.

Let cool, serve at room temperature, ideally the same day. You may like it with jam or honey.

To make syrup

In a small heavy saucepan, stir the sugar in water and add the rinds. Let simmer over medium heat for about 15 min. In the last 5 minutes, add the juice.

Set aside and use until it’s just warm to lukewarm (you can put your fingers in it without burning yourself).

Place the ghriebas over a grill and a deep plate at the bottom, poor the syrup on top and let them drip. Alternatively, you can poor one or two tablespoon over each ghrieba.

Keep the syrup-coated version in the fridge for a few days, serve with extra syrup as a dessert.

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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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Moroccan Rezzat el qadi

Moroccan Rezzat El Qadi / Judge’s turban : An all-threads pancake wonder

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Rezzat el Qadi/El Kadi is a rather funny name for this Moroccan pancake. The reason why it’s called so is because it looks like an Oriental Turban’s judge (English translation of the Arabic name). Picture yourself placing one on your head, you’ll get the idea.

Our judges don’t place turbans anymore on their heads but the name remains to remind us the past.

Moroccan Rezzat el qadi

Moroccan Rezzat el qadi. Credit @Nada Kiffa

You need some patience to make Rezzat el Qadi. You also need to make sure that the dough is firm, smooth and pliable due to a good long kneading. It’s rather firmer than Msemmen dough. This is the trick to make it go through the spaghetti machine without incidents.

Rezzat el Qadi can be served drenched with honey just like a regular Msemmen or Mlaoui. But there are regional dishes where it is the base to a R’fissa dish, usually kept for big happy family events.

When I was in Assilah, I bought one mega Rezza or Rziza from a woman. It was about 2 kgs weight. I did ask her how is this rather regional speciality from a different part of Morocco ended up there in their Northern Market. She said they also have this pancake but they use it to replace vermicelli in our inland Chaariya bel hlib (vermicelli with milk soup). Coming to think of it. Rezzat el Qadi is a bit like long Angel’s hair pasta anyway.

This mega Rezzat el Qadi definitely needs and experienced person to shape it with such finesse

Rezzat el Qadi is not part of the Fassi cooking repertoire and I know about it because I was brought up in Casablanca which is a city of melting pot with many rural specialities. So I’ve never seen anyone making it at home. We’d rather buy it since it’s part of Moroccan Street Food especially during Ramadan.

When I moved to live abroad and YouTube as become a sensation, I learned how to make it. Practice makes perfect, and I nailed it at my third trial, after a wise woman in Morocco told me to keep the dough firm but knead it very well..That’s all what I needed to get it right.

So here I give you the recipe and tutorial to make rezzat el Qadi the fastest and easiest way, using a pasta machine, a tool that Moroccans have accommodated to their Cuisine decades ago.

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Ingredients
Serves 6 (I make mini and medium Rzizas)
Prep: 50 min – Cooking : 4 min per pancake

For the dough

  • 400 g of strong white flour
  • 100 g of fine semolina flour (or strong white flour)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • A pinch of dried instant yeast
  • 250 ml of water, lukewarm (maybe more depending on the flour’s absorption, use a tablespoon to add any extra).

For shaping

  • 100 g of butter, melted and cooled
  • 60 ml of plain oil.
  • 4 tbsps of flour, for dusting while running through the pasta machine

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Preparation

Mix the dried instant yeast with 2 tablespoons of water and stir. Set aside for a couple of minutes until it dissolves.

Sift all dry ingredients in a work surface or a large bowl. Add the yeast, the salt and the water and mix (you could do this using a food processor or a bread machine). Mix for a few minutes to combine.

Transfer the dough to a working surface and knead it properly and energetically for about 15 minutes. The more you knead the dough (up to 25 minutes), the better. The dough is rather hard but it moistens as you go, it will come together nicely after all the kneading is done.

I found that alternating between a 5 minutes kneading and 10 minutes resting (covered) makes it easier for anyone who does not have strong wrists and arms (like me).

Shaping Rezzat el Qadi using a spaghetti machine

Form thick sausages of dough, Cover them with a cloth and let them rest for 15 minutes.

With your hands, lousely flatten each roll and gently stretch it lengthwise.

Set the pasta machine on a large number and flatten the dough from the lasagna section (Use # 1 or 2 for now). Turn to a larger number for a thinner dough.

Place each flatten dough on a work surface and lightly dust it with flour from both sides.

Bring the bowl of mixed butter under the receiving end of the pasta machine; this is where the spaghetti dough is meant to land

With one hand, ass the dough through the spaghetti section of the machine. Collect it from the other side from that pool of butter, stretch and roll over a rolling pin, a thin bottle, a courgette/cucumber or just the handle of a wooden spatula. While you are doing this, make sure threads are parallel and separated. Sretch it as you go.

Having a second person to pick up the spaghetti looking dough from the other side will be handy!

Set aside each roll of dough. Drizzle a bit of butter/oil mix and give it a pat or two to flatten it and 10 minutes rest then flatten in even further. Shape the rest of the dough as described previously.

No spaghetti machine? No worries! Get a pizza cutter and cut small strings of dough.

Cooking/pan-frying Rezzat el Qadi

Place a non -stick heavy bottom skillet/frying pan on medium heat. Cook/pan-fry as many Rzizas as you can fit into the pan.

Delicately flip them on both sides for several times (at least 3 times in each side). It’s better not to let the crust turn golden in the first time before flipping them.

The Rzizas are ready when they look nicely golden crispy from outside and their spaghetti-looking threads are separated from the inside.

Once out the pan/skillet, place Rziza in a kitchen towel and crush it by bringing the edges towards the center. It helps releasing the steam and also making sure than the threads are separated. Cover with the kitchen towel Rziza remains soft.

I also learned to steam Rezzat el Qadi for a couple of minutes before serving it so it stays soft all the way through. I managed to do it differently though. Once the Rziza is almost ready to leave the skillet, I cover it for a minute so the steam is trapped and it comes nice right there and then!

Serve them warm or freeze for another day.

Note: 

Shaping the dough in sausages depends on how big or small you want to shape the rezza… 

To make mini-rezzas, I shaped 30 cm tall * 2 cm wide sausages and halved them into two later on. Another time, I shape them about 20 cm tall and 4 cm wide to make slightly bigger rezzas…

Tall is not the problem as long as you can cut it..Wide would be a problem since the machine may not handle the corners properly when the dough is flattened.

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