Chefchaouen – Morocco

Chefchaouen, Chaouen or the Blue City is a gorgeous mountain city in northeastern Morocco. A few weeks ago we took a road trip to the northern part of Morocco. The ride was breathtaking, full of beautiful mountains/coast views. The only hard part was the mountain curves to reach it especially if you get car sick :).

Chefchaouen is a cute city to relax, chill and enjoy the nature. We enjoyed staying at a Riad which is an old renovated Moroccan house that is owned by a Moroccan family and turned into a small hotel. It gives you a real Moroccan experience from the decoration, hammam, mineral pool, spa to the food menu. My favorite part about staying at a Riad is relaxing and enjoying the beautiful view of the whole city from the top terrace every morning and sunset.

Here are some photos of our visit to Chefchaouen.

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Marrakech – Morocco

We decided last Christmas to go to Marrakech, the most exciting city in Morocco. Marrakech is so much fun. You see people from all around the world there. Moroccans call Marrakech the red city since all the buildings, hotels, city walls, and houses are red.

  

In Marrakech, one can visit the historic wealth of the city which manifests itself in palaces, mansions and other lavish residences and be mesmerized by the beautiful tiles and colors they have.

 

Enjoy the many different beautiful gardens there which include at one time the home of the landscape painter Jacques Majorelle which was bought by the designer Yves Saint Laurent. It also has his memorial.

 

Shop at the markets, Marrakech has the largest traditional Berber Market in Morocco.

 

Visit the cultural sites, checking out all the different museums and the educational part by visiting Ben Youssef Madrasa which was one of the largest theological colleges in North Africa. Housing as many as 900 students at one point.

 

Visit the Koutoubia Mosque and of course end your day at Jemaa el-Fnaa square, the center of city activity and trade. In the square you can enjoy all the different activities from snake charmers, dancers, monkey trainers and of course the famous food stalls.

It is my favorite city in Morocco so far and will definitely go back :).

 

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Moroccan Couscous

This is the recipe for a delicious, classic moroccan couscous with seven vegetables. You can choose the vegetables that are preferred by your family. Moroccans cook this meal with a coucousier, which is a special deep pot that has a basket on top to steam the couscous while cooking the meat and vegetables.

I used the pressure cooker to prepare it quicker but if you use a normal pot or the couscousier you need to double the time for it to cook.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups of Dry Couscous (Not instant)

2 lbs of Beef or lamb cut into big pieces leaving it on the bone.

2 Onions (cut into big pieces)

2 Tomatoes (peeled and cut into big pieces)

One Cup of Chickpeas Soaked overnight in cold water

4 Carrots (Peeled and cut)

Potatoes (Peeled and cut in half)

Zucchini (Remove the top and bottoms and Clean and cut in half)

Turnip (Peeled and cut)

Squash (Or a side of a pumpkin Cut and peeled)

1 or 2 Jalapeño peppers

One tbsp of diced Cilantro

1/2 Cup of Olive Oil

1/4 Cup of Vegetable Oil

2 tsp of Butter

2 tsp of Ground Ginger

1 tsp of Turmeric ( Moroccan Yellow Coloring)

Salt, Pepper and Black Pepper

One Cube of Beef Stock

How to Prepare:

Prepare the Vegetables.   

Using a pressure cooker, add the meat, onion, ground ginger, olive oil, vegetable oil, butter, turmeric, salt, pepper and black pepper stirring every now and then until the meat is browned and the water dries.  Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and half cup of hot water to the meat, cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then.

After 20 minutes, add 5 cups of boiling water, and then cover the pressure cooker.  Once it starts to whistle, cook for 15 minutes.
Add turnip and carrots, cover the pot and cook for 7 minutes.
Add Potatoes, zucchini, pumpkin pieces, beef stock cube, one cup of hot water, then cover the pot and cook for 14 minutes. 

Remove the pot cover, then add the jalapeño peppers and cilantro and cook for 5 more minutes.

Steaming the Couscous (using couscoussier):

For a cup and a half of dry couscous, add one tbsp of olive oil and 3/4 cup of water mixing it all using your hand to prevent it from clumping together and put in the basket over boiling water on a high heat and let it steam for about 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Take out the couscous, let is cool down then add 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 cup of boiling water stirring it using your hands and then add back to the basket until the steam rises from the couscous.

For the third time take out the couscous, let it cool down and add to it 1/4 cup of boiling water stir using your hands so the couscous won’t clump together and put it to steam for one last time.


Serving the Couscous:

Put the couscous in a large bowl spreading it evenly. Add the meat pieces in the middle and decorate the vegetables around it. Add the jalapeño peppers on top of the meat (if someone wants a spicy taste) and serve the sauce in a bowl next to it.

  

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Beef Tajine with Onion and Raisins

Moroccan Tajine or Tagine (either way is right) is a dish that contains meat with veggies or fruits. It can be sweet or salty. You can make a chicken, beef or lamb tajine. Usually the beef in the tajine is a big cut of meat with bones and a layer of fat. You can use either the thigh or the shoulder of the cow or a favorite cut of meat.

If not cooking on charcoal, Moroccans tend to use the pressure cooker to cook it. The crockpot also works perfectly since slow cooking makes this dish very tasty.

This easy tajine recipe features a savory combination of beef, onion and raisins in a sweet sauce. 

 

Ingredients:

2 lbs of Beef

1 lb of Small Onions

200 Grams of Raisins

One Medium Size Diced Onion

2 Tbsp of Diced Cilantro

3 Garlic Cloves

1/2 Cube of Chicken Bullion 

1 Tsp of Ground Ginger

1/2 Tsp of Ground Coriander

1/2 Tsp of Saffron

1/2 Tsp of Turmeric (Moroccan Yellow Spice)

2 Tsp of Butter

Salt and Black Pepper

1/2 Tsp of Ground Cinnamon

2 Tbsp of Olive Oil

1 Tbsp of Vegetable Oil

How to Prepare:

For using a normal cooking pot double the time.

 

In a pressure cooker on high heat, place the beef with diced onion, spices (minus the ground cinnamon),   garlic, chicken bullion, and butter stirring all together unil the beef water dries for about 9 minutes. 

Add the olive oil, the vegetable oil, and the diced cilantro to the beef and lower the flame to low-medium heat for about 20 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Peel the small onions and place in water. Soak the raisins in water as well.

Once the beef is brown and a bit dry, add 2 cups of boiling water and close the pressure cooker cover on tightly and cook on high heat for 25 to 30 minutes.

Drain the onion and raisins and add to the beef with the ground cinnamon with 3/4 cup of boiling water and cover the pressure cooker tightly and let it cook on high heat for 10 minutes.

If onion is not fully cooked after 10 minutes, cook for 5 more minutes uncovered and then serve.



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Chicken Tajine On Coal

Tajine is a very famous dish in Morocco and can be prepared in many ways. One of the types of tajine are chicken and vegetables.  It is historically a Berber dish from North Africa which is named after the type of clay pot that it is prepared in.

Today, I decided to cook this meal in a real Moroccan way on hot coals. I set up the fire-pit with some rocks to create a small grill to cook it on (You can simply use a charcoal grill as well).

Ingredients:

10 to 12 Chicken Drumsticks

Onion

Cut Green Beans

2 Carrots

Yukon Potatoes

Sliced Tomatoes

One Clove of Garlic

Diced Cilantro

1 Tsp of Turmeric (Moroccan Yellow Spice)

Salt

Pickled Lemon Slices

1/4 Tsp of Black Pepper

1/2 Tsp of Ground Ginger

1 Tsp of Saffron

One Small Green Pepper.

Olive Oil

How to Prepare:

Start the charcoal.

Cut and slice the veggies.

In the pot, add the chicken drumsticks with the spices and one cup of diced onion and one cup of olive oil.

Stir all together periodically and let it cook for about a half an hour or until cooked.

Add the cut green beans on top of the chicken, then place the slices of carrots on top evenly,  adding the peeled potatoes and placing the tomato slices, onion slices, lemon slices and diced garlic on top.

Add a dash of salt on top of the vegetables.

Add one cup of boiling water and cover the pot and let it cook until all the veggies are well done (It took about 2 to 3 hours). If it dries while cooking add half a cup of boiling water if needed.

Lucky me it rained today so I used the patio umbrella and put on my rain jacket (cooking in style :) ).

Once it is done, add the diced cilantro and the pepper on top and let it cook for 20 to 30 minutes.

Garnish with one tbsp of olive oil and sweet red pepper and let it cool for 15 minutes until the sauce dries out a bit.

 

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Muhallabia (Middle Eastern Pudding)

This is one of my favorite desserts from home.

Ingredients:

 4 Cups of Milk

1/2 Cup of Sugar

4 Tbsp of Cornstarch

1 Tsp of Flower Water

Lemon Zest

Toasted Nuts to Garnish

 How to Prepare:

 In a saucepan, heat the milk and sugar on medium-high heat.

While the milk is heating, remove 1 cup of the milk mixture and place it in a bowl.

 Add cornstarch and whisk well.

 Add the mix back to the pan and stir bringing it to a boil (whisk every now and then to prevent from sticking to the bottom).

 Once the mixture thickens, remove from heat.

 Add the flower water.

 Pour into bowls or cups.

 Let it cool down, and when cool, top it with toasted nuts and lemon zest.  Then place in the fridge for an hour or two before serving.

 

 

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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