Thursday, 26 November 2015

Moroccan Chermoula fritters or beignets - Beignets ou galettes de chermoula

These fritters are a way to whip up any extra chermoula marinade left in the bowl after we pick up the fish for frying (see here and there). We usually serve them along with fried fish liver or anything that's been marinated in loads of chermoula.

While I realized these fritters are not commonly known in Morocco, they're not a new discovery in Fez where my parents come from and you can even get them as part of the street food menu in some places. They're always typically served as a starter during lunch time.

Chermoula is generally thinned with water and thickened with plain flour or a mix of white flour and durum flour then the mix is scooped and dropped straight into hot oil. The fritters come flat and are usually served with a harissa vinaigrette.

Maybe they don't look very appealing but wait until you try them out...

Right, chermoula fritter with shredded potato, left, without potato

There is no fixed recipe as far as my family is concerned. I just remember anyone making them thickening the chermoula with as much flour as needed, then you work your way through the texture with experiment. Some add an egg and some baking powder (but then no water added). One of my aunties adds one grated potatoe to the mix as well, then you could add other things but again I prefer the original version.

I wanted to measure the recipe but I never got around it. Surprisingly, I found it in Street Cafe Morocco written by Anissa Helou. Although she adds an egg to it but I reckon the taste will be the same. You can replace the egg with a grated and squeezed medium-size potato for an eggless version. It goes without saying the spiciness can be adjusted to taste. I've adapted my written recipe from hers..

It's always good to eat them in the couple of hours after frying them.

You can add some crispiness by mixing the flours or using
only fine semolina flour (durum flour)

Prep: 2 min - Frying: about 3 min per batch

  • 1/3 cup of basic chermoula 
  • 1 egg, standard size or a grated potato (thin with 10 to 15 cl of water if using potato)
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric for colour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 150g of flour (ideally, 50 % of it should be durum flour)
  • Vegetable oil for frying

The batter is rather like a double cream in texture.
This one is mixed with grated potato

Mix well all the ingredients and add just enough water to have a double cream or pancake-like batter texture.

heat the oil in a deep frying pan, drop the batter by tablespoonful, leaving space between each fritter. Fry for 90 s to 2 minutes per side and flip around.

Fry until golden brown.

Fish out the fritters and place them over a double layer of kitchen paper to drain excess oil.

Serve hot or warm, ideally within a couple of hours after you fried them.


The reason this recipe is difficult to measure is due to the texture of chermoula left for it itself. In this case shown in the picture, chermoula is very thin and hence does not need further liquid but rather flour to thicken it. Just use common sense to come up with the pancake-texture mentioned about.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Moroccan okra in tomato sauce - Mloukhiya b' Maticha

I always considered Gombos or okra to be a bit of a weird vegetable because of its slimy inside. There is no other way of describing it. During all my childhood, my father never failed to give me a lesson about its benefits whenever this green thing was served over dinner. I just never worked.

As we grow older, our taste buds change and mature. We tend to take wise (r) decisions. Eating okra was one of them. Interestingly enough, I just ate the Moroccan okra after trying the Indian one which I found more acceptable for my palate.

How much of the tomato sauce is needed here is a personal choice
Moroccan okra tend to be smaller and chubbier than the tall version I commonly find across the world, it's also slimier (that word again!), which makes it amazingly healthier and definitely a good vegetable for your digestive system. It needs particular attention during the cooking process as it can break down and create a mess..It does not need much time to cook.

Fortunately, there are ways of handling it and even storing it to benefit from it all year around.

Steamed al dente and cleaned, okra is ready to be frozen
It's worth mentioning that okra in Morocco is called Mulukhiyyah ,Mouloukhia. However, like many things in North Africa and the Arab world, once you pass the Moroccan border, the same word refers to something completely different; a rather leafy staple which is the jute leave. Our national Mloukhiya is called bamia in the rest of the Arab world.

Mloukhia b' maticha is very appreciated in the Fassi cuisine (from Fez). It has its limited season but like my mother, women steam it for a very short time then freeze it to last longer. I reckon that Syrian women tend to dry it, thread it to form a long chain then hang it in the kitchen or in the larder.

This cooked Moroccan salad is easy to prepare, it's just a matter of sauteing chopped tomatoes with a bit of chermoula then adding in the okra for a few minutes..How easy is that.

The same okra in tomato served in a different occasion, only more tomato-ey

Prep: 10 -15 min - Cooking: 35 - 40 min

  • 300 - 400 g of fresh okra
  • 2 to 3 medium-size tomatoes, peeled and seeds discarded, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped or sliced (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp of sweet ground paprika 
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 3 tbsps of good extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsps of coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of flat leaves parsley, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Chili powder to taste


Wash okra, cut the stems off leaving the "hat" bit intact.

Method 1: cooking separately

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add a bit of salt and all the okra. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a skillet, sweat the onion then add the garlic, tomatoes, spices  and herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes. You may add a bit of water to make a sauce (about 10 cl)
Stir in okra and cook for about 5-7  minutes. Adjust the seasoning.

Method 2: one pot cooking (omit the onion)

Over medium heat, saute drained okra in olive oil for a couple of minutes to seal it. Add the rest of the ingredients and a bit of water and bring to a boil, covered. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, reduce the heat and let simmer for a few more minutes until okra is cooked.

Once you feel that okra has become soft, stir delicately to avoid breaking it.


You could drizzle it with a good olive oil just before serving.

Serve this cooked salad warm or at room temperature.

The okra salad keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Moroccan black eyed peas salad

So now I am a mother of 2. I live on coffee and tea (chocolate too) and I look like a zombie with the belly of a cow. My baby boy (another boy, I'm now officially outnumbered in this house) is about 2 1/2 months and I think he's becoming a bit chatty. I get a lot of smiles and it sweeps away all the fatigue. A wonderful reward in the end..

The end of my pregnancy was quite hard and the baby came early, not premature though but he had to stay for 11 days in an intensive care unit.

I finally got to squeeze some time to start potty-training my other toddler who by the way, as you may guess, is going through a jealousy crisis because of our new bundle of joy.

I love these two monkeys so much that I'm just taking care of them back to back, no time to post anything in this dying blog. But now you know the reason why I went silent all this time.

We're in autumn over here and that means it's time for pulses, heating on, soups, hot teas around the clock and a lot of comfort food.

Whenever I will find time to write a few lines I'll surely do. New recipes might become rare but I'll do my best. It's always encouraging to read comments and engage with readers and honestly this is one of the things that make me come back and write more.

I thought I'd sneak a recipe of Moroccan black eyed peas as long as the baby is having a nap and the other one is busy colouring.

This warm winter salad is a favourite in Fez where my family comes from. At least it used to be. I don't really know what the new generation is up to with these old recipes. I hope they're still making this one at least.

Serves 4 to 6
Prep: 3 min - Cooking: 1 h (pressure cooker)
  • 1 cup of dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight
  • 1 medium-size onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 cube of bouillon, vegetables or chicken or beef 
  • 1 l of water (approximately)
  • 1 whole chili (optional)
  • 2 tbsps of chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp of sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper (white/black or mixed)
  • 3 to 4 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil


Place a small pressure cooker or a heavy pot over medium heat, add the oil, the chopped onions and the spices and sauté for a few seconds.

Wash and drain the black eyed peas.

Add the rest of the ingredients except the tomato paste. Add about 1 l of hot water the water and cover the pot (or close the pressure cooker).

Cook for about 30 min with a pressure cooker or about 90 min with a regular pot. If you can, cook in a deep earthenware pot over charcoal until tender (about 4 hours) and you will be rewarded with the best black eyed pea comfort warm salad ever. Basically the pulses need to be reduced and tender, so you need to adjust the time of cooking and the liquid accordingly.

When the black eyed peas are about tender, add the tomato paste and season to taste. Some add harissa and others add agriche (khlii sediments) or bits of khlii for even more yumminess..Cook a few more minutes to tenderness.

Reduce and serve warm with a bit of harissa and an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


1 - In Fez, foul gnawa or black eyed peas are cooked the same way we cook brown lentils for a warm starter.

2- Pulses are always served at lunch time and never served for dinners (this is a rule in my family, exception applies for Harira soup).

3- This is from my personal experience in relation to cooking pulses: across the world and depending on the brands, the same dried type of pulses might take longer (or less) in the cooking, even if the same type of cooking pot is used for the same recipe. A freshly "dried" chickpea would take less to cook to tenderness than a year old dried chickpea, even if they were left to soak for the same time.


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