Category Archives: Arab style

When you ask people to name some famous British chefs most of them will come up with Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey and Nigella Lawson. Not me though… No I am madly and deeply in love with the cooking of Rick Stein. Rick and I had some great times in front of my TV. I sailed the canal du Midi with him, I ate dumplings with him in Phuket and I followed him around the Mediterranean. And that is still my favorit..his Mediterranean escape. I loved the show with that typical cuisine and the lovely views. I soaked in all his tips and one moment I thought I was going delusional in front of my tv cause I could almost smell the sea! I was overcome with joy when I finnaly got my hands on the Mediterranean escape cookbook. The first recipe I tried from it was this lovely kefta Mkaouara or a spicy egg, meatball and tomato tagine.
But although I love Rick Stein and everything he does I need to tell you how happy I was with the adjustments I made to the recipe. Without the extra spices I used I think the flavour would have been kind of bland. The husband and I agreed that his recipe could never be “spicy” like the title mentioned. I wrote my added spices in the cookbook and I saw the husband smile. All my cookbooks are tweaked with little notes in the sides to make recipes “more us”.

 INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons of olive oil
4 medium sized eggs
a small handful fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
450 grams minced lamb
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of hot paprika (I used some dried Harissa herbs I bought in Tunesia for this)
2 tablespoons of raz el hanout
1 medium onion, finely chopped
800 grams of canned chopped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves crushed

 Start with preheating your oven at 200 degrees.

Now for the meatballs put the minced lamb, parsley, 1 teaspoon of cumin, ½ teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper into a bowl and mix together well with your hands. When all is mingled together well form the meat into small balls. (Approximately 2,5 cm)

 Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a shallow tagine or a frying pan and brown the meatballs briefly on all sides. You don’t need to cook them through, they just need to get a lovely golden crust.  Remove the balls from the pan and transfer them to a plate.

 Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the onion to it. Cook it very gently for about 5 minutes until soft and tender. Now add the canned tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of cumin, ½ teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of pepper, the garlic cloves and 2 tablespoons of raz el hanout to the pan. Let this simmer gently for 20 minutes. Season with some salt to your liking.

Now return the meatballs to the pan and mix them together with the sauce. If you don’t have a tagine now is the time to transfer the mixture into a shallow oven dish. Make 4 slight dips into the mixture en break the eggs into each one. Now place the tagine or the oven dish in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the eggs or cooked.

Scatter with the chopped coriander and serve with some couscous like we did or some lovely Moroccan bread to dip into the sauce.

Recipe adapted from Rick Steins Med. Escape

Vegetable couscous with hot sausages

In the first years of our relationship the hubby and I travelled a lot to North Africa. We were both enchanted by the deserts, the minarets and the whole hustle and bustle in the souks.  I have found memories of many a night with some wonderful mint tea and the Shisha looking at the stars.  I must say that stars never seem to shine as bright as they do in the desert.
Not only the landscapes and the people intrigued us, but I also fell in love with the wonderful cuisine of the Maghreb. I could walk for hours on the herb markets, tasting, smelling quit frankly just enjoying every bit of.
My kitchen cabinets are filled with aromatic spices and mixtures from my stays there.
Opening a jar of raz el hanout can bring me back to a hot afternoon in Kairouan where I learned the difference between all those mixtures with the same name. Where I laughed with the salesman who told me “ginger would make my husband hot of love”. And where a looked into the eyes of a woman wearing a veil and realised eyes can tell a story all by themselves.
On my bookshelf are a lot of Moroccan, Tunisian and Egyptian cooking books, but this couscous was made up by me. I have been making it for years but I just realised yesterday that I have never written the recipe down. That’s meanly because I never measure anything in this couscous, but also because I change the ingredients from time to time. Then I add some dried apricots, then I use some turnip in it, sometimes I leave out the tomatoes. But yesterday I actually measured it all and wrote it down… just to share the recipe with you guys!
I serve this with some couscous and merguez sausages that I buy at my local Moroccan butcher. They have a delicious cilantro flavour and are hot and spicy.

INGREDIENTS:

1 courgette, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 carrots, sliced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 can of chickpeas
1 onion, diced
¼ teaspoon zathar
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon paprika powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
3 tablespoons of raz el hanout
½ teaspoon of Harissa (If you use hot sausages like me, you don’t need this, just add some of the baking juices to the stew and you ll be fine!)
handful of raisins
handful of green olives
40 grams tomato puree
some chicken stock

Take a large cooking pot and add some olive oil. Put the pot on the fire and let it heat.
Now add the coriander seeds and the onion.
Let the onion fry until it turns golden brown.
Then add the sweet potato, the carrots and the red pepper. Let it simmer for a while.
Then add the tomato puree.
Now add the chicken stock. Poor in the stock until all the vegetables are under water. Be careful, don’t use to much stock, cause you don’t want to end up with soup. It is better to add a little less stock, you can always add more later!
Now add the remaining spices and stir well. Put a lit on the vegetables and let it boil for about 15 minutes.
Now add the courgette and the chickpeas let again simmer for 10 minutes.
Just before serving add the raisins and the olives. Let them heat for a couple of minutes and serve the vegetables with some couscous and hot sausages.

Tip for making the actually couscous: use some vegetable stock instead of plain water for the couscous. It will give you some extra flavour!