Mark, Marja and Dick, my favorite gourmet cooks, this post is especially for you!
Fatima, the housekeeper who is normally here every day, has come once a week while we're here. Today I asked her for two things: one, to cook us a Moroccan dinner, and two, to teach me how she made a couple of things. She spoke half in Arabic and half in French, and I wrote down what she did. Rather than write this up just for myself, here it is for all of us.
FATIMA'S EGGPLANT SALAD, which I loved when she made it for us on our arrival.
Peel and dice a medium eggplant in small pieces, and put it in a large pan, preferably nonstick.
Dice a shallot or small onion in small pieces.
Put 4 cloves of garlic through a garlic press
Add a teaspoon of paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp cumin
2 to 3 tsp olive oil, possibly a little more
salt to taste
Mince about 1/4 to 1/2 cup parsley (she didn't mind including the stems in tiny pieces)
You can add a little lemon juice (she didn't today)
All this goes in the big frypan. Mix it well, cover it, and cook over a low flame, stirring occasionally.
While it's cooking, remove the skin from 4 or 5 tomatoes. Remove the seeds to a little bowl. Mince the rest. Pour the seeds into a strainer and push the juice into the eggplant mixture; throw out the seeds. Add the minced tomatoes and mix well.
Cook another half an hour at least, maybe an hour, stirring occasionally. Serve hot or cold. She served it to us cold, and I loved it that way; haven't tried hot yet.
FATIMA'S LAMB TAGINE (= STEW) WITH PRUNES
She had already started to prepare this, so I didn't see the quantities she used.
Brown the lamb, about half a pound per person, in olive oil.
Into the tagine (we'd use a stew pot) put:
A handful of whole parsley, to be removed later
A small onion, whole, for the taste
Water, maybe half an inch or so
In a separate bowl she softened prunes (sold here pretty hard) in water, then cooked them in a separate pot with a little water to soften further. When softened, she drained them, put a few spoonfulls of sauce from the tagine that was cooking, added some cinnamon, and cooked them for maybe 15-30 minutes. She checked the lamb frequently to test for doneness with a fork and to add water when necessary. It took several hours for the lamb to be tender. At some point she removed the parsley. At the end she added the prunes around the lamb and sprinkled sesame seeds over everything.
I tried to find out if she thought the taste would be affected if the same ingredients were put into a covered dish and cooked in the oven instead of a tagine over the stove, but her French wasn't up to that so I don't know. The top of the tagine is maybe 9 inches above the base, and I don't know if all that enclosed heated air changes the taste.
While she was doing this she showed me a Moroccan cookbook in French. Here are lists of what I gleaned about Moroccan tagines:
salt and pepper
flour to thicken
POSSIBLE INGREDIENTS IN ADDITION TO MEAT
Beans, different sorts
And while all that was cooking, she made a dressing for the green salad:
FATIMA'S SALAD DRESSING
Parsley, chopped finely, stems included
Shallot or onion, minced finely
Salt and pepper
And that, my friends, is the cooking lesson for today! Tomorrow we head to Fez, for our last trip in Morocco. Cheers!