Moroccan lamb shak with wheatberry kernels

Moroccan lamb shank with wheatberry kernels

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Slow-cooked lamb shanks with wheatberry is a dish cooked the same way as Moroccan trotters recipe. In fact, you could make it a vegan dish by omitting any form of rich meat and just use chickpeas instead.

There was a old lady I used to visit when I was still living in Morocco and she would serve the wheatberry on their own, accompanied with a classic Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad. 

Being from a modest background, she always apologised everytime she served it, but all what I had in mind was ” can I finish the plate without looking bad? is there enough for everyone?”. 

My old friend was twice my age actually, so I used to call her “khalti” or Auntie. She used to prepare her wheatberry at night and serve it the next day, very reminiscent of Dafina or Skhina, a Moroccan-Jewish dish for Shabbat.

 

Moroccan lamb shak with wheatberry kernels

Moroccan lamb shak with wheatberry kernels. Credit @Nada Kiffa

Khalti was again another person who can tell you stories about Muslim and Jewish Moroccans living side by side and growing together looking after each others’ kids and properties. 

The result of this symbiose was a transfer of recipes and habits which transcend generations up to now. 

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Moroccan lamb shank with wheatberry

Slow-cooked lamb shanks with wheatberry is a dish cooked the same way as Moroccan trotters recipe. In fact, you could make it a vegan dish by omitting any form of rich meat and just use chickpeas instead.

  • 150 g wheatberry kernels (washed and left to soak in cold water overnight)
  • 1 lamb shank
  • 1 onion (medium, finely chopped)
  • 1 tbps ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika (optional)
  • ½ tsp chili flakes (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt (to taste)
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic (3 crushed and 3 with skin on)
  1. Mix the spices and grated garlic with oil



  2. Mix the drained wheatberry kernels with 2/3 of the spice mix. Mix well so all kerners are coated. You will particularely need to do this if you cook them in a cheesecloth pouch (We usually do that).

  3. Prick the lamp shanks with the knife and thoroughly rub the meat.



  4. Use a heavy pot to cook on top of a stove/cooker, in a oven or over charcoal. Pressure cooker will do as you halve the time.



  5. Place the chopped onions in the bottom of the pot (it shouldn't stick whilst cooking), Add the lamp shank to one side and the wheatberry kernels in a pouch next to it.

  6. Depending on pots and methods of cooking, you may need less.

Slow-cooking in an earthenware pot

  1. Add enough water to reach no more than half of the lamb shank and seal the pot.



  2. Cook for 90-120 min on medium heat or for 2h30-3 hours in a 170 degrees oven. The time depends on the quality of the meat and its thickness.

  3. Remove whichever cooks first and make sure all liquid has evaporated before serving.

Cooking in a pressure cooker

  1. You will need less water to cook and may need to cook this dish under 1 hour depending on the type of pressure cooking and setting used.

Serving

  1. Serve warm

  • If you choose to prepare Moroccan wheatberry kernels on the vegan side, use presoaked chickpeas (not canned).
  • Depending on the origin and type of chickpeas, adjust the cooking time. 
  • When cooked without meat, this recipe can be served as a side dish.

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Thin Sephardic Moroccan biscuits

Fat-free thin Moroccan Jewish biscuits -Fekkas d’ Lihoud

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A while ago, I spotted some moulds of different shapes in Essaouira and when asked, the shop keeper said it was for Fekkas d’lihoud. Now fekkas is a form of Moroccan biscotti and lihoud refers to Jews.

Being in Essaouira, I thought it was the place to look for more information about Sephardic cooking. I got busy and forgot about it.

Finding the baking pans

These thin biscuits  as well as their famous baking pans have become a thing in Casablanca for last 5 years and come with different nuts and seed mix in bakeries.

It can also be made to order by the many women who cater from home. My brother brought us some a few years ago and recently my sister brought me an adapted version with chocolate and coffee! the latter was to die for!

So in my last trip, I decided to get hold of some of this iconic baking pans which can also be used to make brioches and thin cake loaves of different shapes: stars, triangles, flowers, rectangular..

In Morocco, these moulds cost next to nothing, unlike the birkmann brand that seem quite expensive considering that you need at least 3 of these even when you halve the recipe..But it’s out there, available via Amazon. Having lived in Germany and bought things from this brand, I know how good it is!

It’s also worth to get those thin bread pans because you can make all sorts of breads and bakes and cut them later on for canapes etc..

Mixing up 

I understood the logic of the recipe then completely changed the additions: I made a less sweeter and also savoury one with anchovies. I substituted white sugar with coconut sugar in the recipe below. I added cranberries and dried strawberries.

The dough needs to be sticky and just slightly runny so do not go and add more flour. It has to flow in the moulds while it’s baking and take their shape.

What I’m posting today is a completely adapted version. As I mention in the list of ingredients, feel free to replace the seeds, nuts and dried fruits but make sure things go in harmony with each other and most of all make sure you stick to a minimum of sticky and sweet dried fruits as it might become excessively sweet.

Regarding the nuts, seeds and fruit mix, you can use a pre-mixed pack but just weight the total of each group to get closer to the one I’m giving down below.

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Ingredients

Serves 30-40 people
Prep: 30 min – resting: min 8 hrs – baking: 30 to 35 min (in two times)

Basic ingredients for the dough 

  • 6 eggs. medium to large
  • 400 g of all purpose flour ( I mixed 1/3 whole wheat and 2/3 white flour)
  • 200 g of sugar (I use half light brown and half white caster sugar, initial recipes call for 300g caster sugar!)
  • 7 g baking powder
  • A good pinch of salt

Nuts, seeds and dried fruits (open to options and substitutes)

  • 150 g of almonds with skin on or slivered (whole almonds will need pre-soaking for a few minutes then pat-dried and roughly chopped)
  • 150g whole hazelnuts,
  • 150g whole cashew nuts,
  • 100g pistachio
  • 100g of dried apricots, raisins, goji berries or anything you have around (unsweetened)
  • 4 tbsps of mixed seeds (or just unhulled sesame seeds)
  • 2-3 tbsps of unsweetened dessicated coconut

Flavourings

  • 1 tablespoon of lemon zest or 
  • 2 tbps of chopped candied orange or clementine peels
  • or 1 tsp of vanilla extract


Preparation

Preheat your oven at 160 degrees C. Grease the pans/tins/moulds with oil and dust them with flour. Discard excess flour.

Beat eggs with sugar and salt until foamy. Put the egg beater or whisk on the side and get a spatula.

Fold in the flavouring, dry fruits, seeds and nuts. Mix.

Sift the flour with baking powder and fold it in. Mix with the spatula or with your hands (I do).

Butter and flour the molds and pour the mixture to 2/3rds of it. They will rise.

Bake until golden and springy (about 20 min in my oven).

Remove from pan and cover tightly with a couple of kitchen towels. Once cool, place in the refrigerator between 8 and 24 hours (overnight will do).

Get a sharp knife and cut the fekkas 1 mm thin (I go to 2 mm and it’s still good but it should be 1 mm really!). This fekkas does not break if do things delicately and with concentration (and a good knife).

Cover a baking sheet with baking paper because the dried fruits might stick to it. Place the fekkas next to each other without leaving space as they won’t expand.

Bake for 10-15 min at 160 degrees. I prefer to bake them for 12 min and leave them in the hot oven (position OFF). Ideally they should not go very golden, they barely change colour and it will look to you as if it’s still soft but once cooled it will harden.

Once cooled, transfer fekkas to an airtight container and leave them in a dry place. It keeps for weeks.

Serve with hot or cold drinks.

Notes

  • The ones I made were either with a mix of whole wheat and white flour or white brown and coconut sugar, which is why they look slightly golden to brown.
  • I made them on the savoury side and dropped the sugar. I added herbs, anchovies, garlic and dried green onions. It was delicious with a dollop of cream cheese on top and some cucumber.
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Stuffed dried apricots - Mechmach mâammar

Stuffed dried apricots – Mechmach mâammar

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Today’s post has been put together by a friend of mine who shares with me the love for everything Moroccan. We share similar interests when it comes to finding the origin of Moroccan recipes and how they’re done across the country.

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Moroccan Sephardi stuffed dried apricots

Moroccan Sephardi stuffed dried apricots. Credit @Nada Kiffa

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She is a very knowledgeable person who constantly looks for ways to promote Moroccan culture and traditions and she does it so beautifully.

When I asked her to write a guest post for the blog, she was so kind to accept and come up with a wonderful recipe from the magical word of Moroccan Sephardi Cuisine. Happy reading and cooking!

Stuffed dried apricots or mechmach mâmmar is a very old Jewish Moroccan recipe.

Moroccans Jews are known for having a rich repertoire of stuffed fruit dishes, such as stuffed fresh medlar (mzah), dried apricots, dried prunes and so on.

Moroccan Jewish cooking is mild and uses spices which are different from the usual ones used in the common Moroccan cuisine. The main spices used are cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, bay leaves and white pepper.

This recipe was adapted from the book : “La cuisine Juive Marocaine”, by Lévy-Mellul Rivka.

Stuffed dried apricots – Mechmach mâammar

Moroccan Sepharid cuisine is rich and flavoursome. Jews are known for having a rich repertoire of stuffed fruit dishes, such as stuffed fresh medlar (mzah), dried apricots, dried prunes etc..You could follow the same recipe for different dried fruits.

  • 500 gram dried apricots (rinsed with hot water )

For the stuffing

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 onion (yellow or brown, finely chopped)
  • 200 gram minced meat
  • 1 tbsp parsley (finely chopped)
  • salt (to taste)
  • ¼ tsp ginger (ground)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon (ground)
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg (ground)
  • ¼ tsp mace (ground)
  • ¼ tsp white pepper (ground)
  • ⅓ tsp black pepper (ground)
  • 4 tbsp water

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp oil (or clarified butter (smen, or ghee) )
  • pinch spices (ginger, white pepper, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, saffron threads)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 100 ml water (or enough to cover the apricots)
  1. In a pan, melt the butter and fry the onion until translucent.

  2. In a bowl, mix the fried onion with the rest of the ingredients for the meatballs. Make small balls (hazelnut size) with the minced meat mixture.

  3. If the apricots you are using are large, make larger meatballs.

  4. Open the apricots with a sharp knife, along one side so they partially resemble to open clam shells.

  5. In a pan, reheat the clarified butter. Add the stuffed apricots and the rest of the ingredients. Cover with enough water. Cover the pan and cook until the apricots are soft.

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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

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Ingredients
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

Preparation
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.


Notes

(*) 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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