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El Lahm el M'qali

Printed From: Foods of the World Forum
Category: Africa
Forum Name: North Africa
Forum Discription: Where Mediterranean and Arabic cuisines were married.
URL: http://foodsoftheworld.ActiveBoards.net/forum_posts.asp?TID=669
Printed Date: 03 June 2020 at 19:59


Topic: El Lahm el M'qali
Posted By: Guests
Subject: El Lahm el M'qali
Date Posted: 09 July 2010 at 14:05
Note: As time passes and we learn more, it becomes easier to spot areas there improvements can be made. In the original recipe from the opening post of this thread, the ingredients and general concepts are good, but the execution by Time/Life's test kitchen seem to need some modification, both to keep the recipe traditional, and for improving the quality and flavour of the end product. scroll down through this thread in order to see some of the ways that you can do this.

El Lahm el M'qali
Lamb With Lemons And Olives



From Time/Life's Foods of the World - a Quintet of Cuisines, 1970:
 
Quote To serve 4:

1/2 cup olive oil
A pinch of ground ginger 
1/4 teaspoon pulverized saffron threads or ground saffron
1.5 teaspoons salt
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups finely chopped onions 
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
6 sprigs fresh coriander (cilantro)
2 http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/forum_posts.asp?TID=479&title=moroccan-dried-lemons - salted lemons , separated into quarters, or 2 fresh lemons, cut lengthwise into quarters and seeded
16 small green olives
 
In a heavy 12-inch sauté pan, stir the olive oil, ginger, saffron and salt together. Add the lamb and turn the pieces about to coat them evenly. Pour in 3 cups of water, then add the onions, garlic, coriander and lemons. The liquid should almost cover the lamb; if necessary, add up to one more cup of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover tightly, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the lamb is tender and shows no resistance when pierced with the point of a small knife. With a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a plate.

Bring the sauce remaining in the pan to a boil over high heat and cook briskly, uncovered, until it thickens slightly and is reduced to about 3 cups. Discard the coriander. Return the lamb and the liquid that has accumulated around it to the pan, add the olives and, stirring frequently, simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, until heated through. Taste for seasoning. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a heated bowl and serve at once.


This Morroccan dish, a tajine, (lamb with dried lemons and olives) is one I've been wanting to make for many months now. Originally encouraged to begin the process by Dave's post on http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/forum_posts.asp?TID=438&title=preserved-lemonsa-tutorial - Morrocan Preserved Lemons , then my reading of the Foods of the World series on the cooking of the Maghreb, I started the process by making my own http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/forum_posts.asp?TID=479&title=morroccan-dried-lemons - Morrocan Dried Lemons . This was months ago, and I'm finally getting down to it!

This passage is from Lahcen's Morroccan Cooking:

Quote Moroccan cuisine is considered one of the most important cuisines in the world. One of the reasons for its importance is its remarkable diversity of influences. In Moroccan dishes, one can trace the country’s long history of colonizers and immigrants who have left their mark in more than one way. The cuisine of the first inhabitants, the Berbers, still exists today in the staple dishes like tagine and couscous. The Arab invasion brought new spices, nuts and dried fruits, and the sweet and sour combinations that we see in dishes like tagine with dates and lamb. The Moors introduced olives, olive juice and citrus while the Jewish-Moors left behind their sophisticated preserving techniques that we see in the frequent use of preserved lemons, pickles, etc. The Ottoman Empire introduced barbeque (kebabs) to Moroccan cuisine. The French colony, although short-lived compared to reign of some of these other empires, left behind a culture of cafes, pastries, and even wine. Over time, cooks in the kitchens of the four royal cities (Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes, and Rabat) have developed and perfected the dishes that blend each of these distinct tastes. Every Moroccan dish has its place in society and varies with the market, the season, and the region.

Tagine, also spelled tajine, is an historically Berber dish. It is a stew made of meats and vegetables and traditionally cooked in a conical clay pot to allow the steam to rise, condense and drip back down to the stew. Tagines are traditionally prepared on top of a portable clay majmar (much cheaper than a stove!) under which people put hot coals. Practically anything can be turned into a tajine: meat, chicken, fish, vegetables and some even make it with meat and fruits. Some typical tagine dishes include lamb with dates, lamb with raisins or prunes and almonds, chicken with olives and preserved lemon, chicken with dried apricots, and meatballs (or ketfa) with tomatoes and eggs. Of course, there exist more varieties than this. Every part of the country has its regional tagine dish and different ways of preparing it.

Couscous, known in Morocco as seksu, is a traditional Berber dish as well. It is a dish made of fine semolina and topped with meat and vegetables. Couscous is typically made with seven vegetables. To make couscous in the traditional way takes a lot of time and effort. Women separate and mix the grains of semolina by using the palm of their hands and salt water, a process that takes one hour for the semolina alone. Women in some parts of the country still prepare their couscous this way, but most families buy it in packages. Friday is the day of prayer, so it is a Moroccan tradition all over the country to celebrate this day with a couscous meal. Following the custom of eating food with their hands, Moroccans normally eat couscous by rolling it into little balls and popping it into their mouths. The popping motion is important, because if performed inaccurately, the ball will crumble before it makes it to your mouth.


I don't think we'll be popping couscous balls into our mouths for supper, but the technique was nice to know.

I began by cutting up half the leg - about 3 lbs worth - into two-inch cubes. Diced up 2 onions. Left the fat on the lamb as this was going to provide the fat for its browning. Then, into a hot cast iron skillet it went. I let it cook until the moisture pretty much was gone and real browning began to happen.

As the cubes got browned they were removed and put into the crock pot container, leaving the remainder to continue browning. Finally all were done and in the crock;  then, a teaspoon of powdered ginger and ground coriander were sprinkled over it.

I then drained all but maybe 1 teaspoon of the lamb grease, and then deglazed it with a half cup of water. Once the bits were all loosened, I added maybe 2 teaspoons olive oil and the onions, garlic, half the chopped cilantro and a pinch of saffron. Sautéed that until the onions were soft, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, I took 2 http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/forum_posts.asp?TID=479&title=morroccan-dried-lemons - dried lemons from my curing jar  and, following Dave's recommendations, rinsed them well ~ three iterations under cool tap water. Due to the salt content, I did not add any salt to the dish as the recipe called for. I figured the lemons would provide all the salt needed, and was proven correct. Thanks, Dave!

By the time the onions were ready, I added 3 cups water to them, stirred well and poured the mixture onto the lamb in the crock. I then added the remaining chopped cilantro and saffron and mixed well. Finally, I added the 2 lemons torn into wedges, the jar of garlic-stuffed green olives, and put the crock to cook on high.

It'll cook on high for an hour, then get turned to low for another hour. After that....supper is ready when we want it... I'll add the black olives towards the end, and make the couscous for the side later. We also have pita bread and hummus to round out our Moroccan Family Feast Adventure!

So far it smells unbelievably meaty and delicious, and has the whole family cruising by the crock every now and then to get a good look and closer whiff of the scent filling the kitchen. At this point everyone is hungrily looking forward to the international adventure.

(later)

The crockpot is very much like a tajine in the way it cooks...allowing the steam to condense on the lid, then come running back down to bathe the food for perfect tenderness.

After an hour or so on high, I turned it down to low, then warm, as the afternoon went by. Just before suppertime, I ladled as much liquid as I could from the crock and put it in a pot to reduce.

I Boiled it until it was about half to two-thirds reduced, then used a skimmer to remove all the fat from the liquid before returning it to the meat.

Meanwhile, I prepared the couscous and the table. With a little bit of lemon-balm and basil from the garden the scent was heavenly...rich and hearty yet light and lemony all at once....

The finished dish was beautiful, and we couldn't wait to dig in! I served pita breads and store-bought hummus to round out the meal. The kids got a kick out of learning that this meal is traditionally eaten with one's fingers, and loved the idea of tossing couscous balls into their mouths. Of course, they had to try that! Thankfully no one missed and all food landed where it was supposed to!

The whole family liked the dish a lot. The only change recommended was to lessen lemons from 2 to 1 in the crock, but that is all. A complete success!



Replies:
Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 12 July 2010 at 09:39
excellent! it sounds like an incredible, true north-african feast! i know you've been wanting to make this one for quite a while.
 
a complete success all-around, from what i can tell!


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Posted By: Hoser
Date Posted: 12 July 2010 at 12:32
I am at a loss for expletives....John , you took the kids on a major culinary sojurn today. I'm drooling just thinking about it, and thrilled that your preserved lemons worked out. High five my friend!Thumbs Up

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Go ahead...play with your food!


Posted By: barry
Date Posted: 28 June 2011 at 02:24

Was in Agadir two summers ago... brings it all back. aromatic tasty food



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barry


Posted By: pitrow
Date Posted: 27 July 2012 at 10:36
I would love it, but pretty much the only things allowed to be eaten in my house are: boneless skinless chicken breast, beef, some kinds of pork, and occasionally I can sneak some buffalo in.

My wife has lots of phobias when it comes to food. She even freaked out when I tried to keep the tongue from the cow we bought this year. I wanted to make lingua tacos, but she wasn't havin' none of it! lol. And eating anything that's cute and fuzzy: rabbit, lamb, veal, even venison; is pretty much a no-go around here. I keep working on getting her to expand her culinary circle, but it's a slow process.


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Mike
http://lifeinpitrow.blogspot.com/" rel="nofollow - Life in PitRow - My often neglected, somewhat eccentric, occasionally outstanding blog


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 27 July 2012 at 11:40
Originally posted by Mike Mike wrote:

My wife has lots of phobias when it comes to food. She even freaked out when I tried to keep the tongue from the cow we bought this year. I wanted to make lingua tacos, but she wasn't havin' none of it! lol. And eating anything that's cute and fuzzy: rabbit, lamb, veal, even venison; is pretty much a no-go around here. I keep working on getting her to expand her culinary circle, but it's a slow process.
 
My wife is the same way - I have a few food hang-ups myself (organ/offal/some variety meats come to mind), so I don't give her too much grief, but if I want to try a project, I make it and then prepare something else for her. I make enough so that she can sample it, if she changes her mind, but she rarely does. Occasionally, she is surprised and finds out that she likes something new. Tongue
 
With this, the price of lamb is prohibitive, but I am willing to bet that vension would be good. I intend to try it sooner rather than later as my second tajine dish, after I make http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/tajine-msir-zitun_topic2030.html" rel="nofollow - Tajine Msir Zitun . Thumbs Up


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Posted By: pitrow
Date Posted: 27 July 2012 at 12:03
yeah the problem is my wife won't even let it in the house. I told my friend that I'd buy some meat rabbits that her daughter had raised for 4H or FFA (don't remember which), but my wife freaked out. Thumbs Down  oh well. Been a while since I've had hasenpfeffer and seems like it's going to be even longer still before I get to have it again.

Oh, and about a month or so ago we had a big client come into town and the company took him out to dinner. I ordered Cunard au Vin (wine braised duck leg). She almost didn't talk to me for an hour after she found out that's what I ordered, and she wasn't even there!!! Smile lol. oh well. it's all good. I have been successful in getting her to try some new things, but it's a slow process.

Sorry for the thread side-track.


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 27 July 2012 at 12:13
lol - no worries, mike - it does open up some good points, and i can definitely sympathise with your situation. looking at it one way, we're lucky to live in a country that has such a bounty and variety of food, so that our wives can be choosy! but on the other hand, i wonder sometimes if my wife knows where a lot of the food she thinks is "acceptable" actually comes from - compared to some things i've seen, i'd take local, home-butchered rabbit or venison anytime!
 
as for http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/hasenpfeffer_topic1708.html" rel="nofollow - hasenpfeffer , you can make it with chicken or turkey, in the absence of rabbit:
 
http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/hasenpfeffer_topic1708.html" rel="nofollow - http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/hasenpfeffer_topic1708.html
 
not quite the same, of course, but it might be a gateway into her trying a familiar meat in a new way.


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Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 27 February 2013 at 13:46
Stopped in to Restaurant Depot on my way home today. The carry bonless Halal leg of lamb for $4.89lb, I bought one. Much less painful than my last purchase.

So, "El Lahm el M'qali" should be on the menu!

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Mark R


Posted By: africanmeat
Date Posted: 28 February 2013 at 02:27
Sounds great mark i will wait for it patiently.




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Ahron


Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 28 February 2013 at 10:37
Well, I have a dilemma when it comes time to cook. I was thinking about using a cast iron Dutch Oven (antique), but I also have aluminum Dutch Ovens, a copper clad wok and a large crock pot.

I don't see any reason to not use the CI Dutch Oven but if someone thinks otherwise let me know. No I do not have a Tajine, and do not think I can find one locally, will look though.

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Mark R


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 28 February 2013 at 10:40
Mark - no worries! You can do it without an actual tajine cooking vessel. Any of your dutch ovens will do the job just fne - and if you take a look here:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/tajine-sans-tajine-the-easy-diy-approach_topic2171.html - http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/tajine-sans-tajine-the-easy-diy-approach_topic2171.html

You can see where one of our members from Belgium provided some pointers for making a tajine without a tajine.

As I said - no worries, but they are handy little items of cookware. I picked one up at World Market for under 20$, and love it:

http://www.worldmarket.com/search.do?query=tagine - http://www.worldmarket.com/search.do?query=tagine

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Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 28 February 2013 at 10:45
Tas, so do you just put the tajine on the burner and cook?

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Mark R


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 28 February 2013 at 10:52

Mark,

 
Tajines ( Berber spelling = Tagine ) are placed in the oven, on slow low oven temperature with a conical earthenware lid ...
 
Margi.


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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 28 February 2013 at 10:53
Mark, if you have a "flame tamer" or heat diffuser, you should be able to - also, if your stovetop is one of the new glass-topped induction ones, it should PROBABLY be ok on low or medium low. The http://www.worldmarket.com" rel="nofollow - World Market website says that they are stovetop safe with a heat diffuser, so chances are things would be fine.
 
But I will caveat this by saying I don't know for sure. In North Africa, they use them with no problem, but since a replacement for me would be 300 miles away, I'm reluctant to take the chance, until my heat diffuser arrives (hopefully later this week). If you manage to get one with a heavy, thick bottom, this probably isn't an issue.
 
What I did, and it worked fine, was brown the meat etc. in a cast iron pan, then assembled everything in the tajine and put it in a NOT pre-heated oven, then turned the oven on (300 degrees) and allowed it it to gradually warm up. Because of this, I extended the cooking time appropriately. Also, keep in mind that the tajine cookware is seasoned or "cured" before its first use, to make it durable and able to withstand temperatures.
 
I think as it gets used, you can take more risks, but this was my first attempt, so I was very carefeul. I took a lot of notes etc. and you can read about the experience here:
 
http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/tajine-msir-zitun_topic2566.html" rel="nofollow - http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/tajine-msir-zitun_topic2566.html


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Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 28 February 2013 at 10:54
Tas, I just checked - there are 5 World Markets in Florida...none within 150miles of St Pete.
I'll prolly order one though, they look look like a cool tool!

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Mark R


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 28 February 2013 at 13:05
Mark, if you consider that tajines (the dishes) are, essentially, braises, that should answer your questions about other pots.
 
In short, your Dutch ovens will work just fine.
 
Tajines (the vessel) look simple. But they are highly specialized pots, designed so that vaper from the dish condenses rapidly on the relatively cool top, and rains back down on the food.
 
In North Africa they are used on special ovens designed for them. Think of a charcoal chimney, with the tagine sitting on the mouth. That's the basic idea. I have a replica 18th century braizier that works perfectly for that purpose.
 
As to the stove top. In theory, unglazed tajines are perfectly safe, used over low heat, but fully glazed ones are not,  because they are subject to cracking. As somebody once said, however, in theory, theory and reality are the same; in reality they're not. I've used both glazed and unglazed tajines on the gas stove with no ill effects.
 
The trick, as Ron notes with in-the-oven use, is to start cold over very low heat. That way the clay and glazes adjust equally to changes in temperature.
 
Even so, if you're using a glazed tajine on the stovetop, particularly a non-gas one, a heat diffuser is recommended.
 
One other thing; If you go shopping for a tajine, there are two types: cooking tagines and serving tajines. As a general rule, the more highly decorated the tajine the more likely it's for serving only.
 
Just make sure the one you order is designed for cooking.


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But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 01 March 2013 at 13:11
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

In North Africa they are used on special ovens designed for them. Think of a charcoal chimney, with the tagine sitting on the mouth.
 


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Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 18:23
Making this for supper tonight, using venison as a substitute for lamb. No pictures - my oldest son Josef put it together because I am quite under the weather today with some sort of cold-like virus that is much worse than "just a cold." Might try to get a photo as it comes out of the oven.
 
After consulting privately with Brook, I elected not to follow the method or the procedure in the opening post, which is an "adapted for American kitchens" procedure. Instead, based on our conversation, I had Joe assemble all the of the ingredients in my tajine, then I had him add water to a level of halfway up the ingredients, then put it in a cold oven and heat the oven up to 300 degrees. After half an hour or so, we brought the heat up to 325.
 
We didn't modify any of the ingredients, except to substitute venison for lamb and cut the cilantro in half.
 
More later....


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Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 19:35
Cooking this now in my newly-purchased tajine - I should have used the fire pot base that I also purchased, but didn't.

There are definitely a couple of issues with the recipe itself, but it smells awesome!

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Mark R


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 19:39
Mark, did you season or "cure" the tajine yet? that usually takes a day or so (soak overnight; wipe down unglased parts with olive oil and heat for a couple of hours in the oven at 300 degrees, then cool down naturally) and must be done before it is used.

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Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 19:45
It was cured yesterday according to the instructions from the Moroccan shop owner at
http://treasuresofmorocco.com/


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Mark R


Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 20:02
The dish is most excellent! I am enjoying it very much!


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Mark R


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 03 March 2013 at 20:39
Aye, Mark - mine was very good too!
 
I served my meal with coucous made from the cooking liquids, topped with a little Greek yogurt. Although Joe forgot to add the olives when he made the dish, this was no big deal; I simply added a few sliced olives on top of my serving, and all was good! He also tossed too much olive oil in, not realising that most of it was intended by the recipe for browning the meat - no worries.
 
I think my favourite part was the way the lemon worked with the meat pieces that had been near the edge to the tajine; those pieces had "roasted" a little, and made very good play with the lemon. I think next time, I'll cook the dish longer, in order to get even more of that caramelised effect.
 
I can't get over how wonderful this smelled while cooking; even though my olfatory equipment is faulty today due to my illness, it was nevertheless amazing! A most excellent dish that will be enjoyed again in the future. I've tried chicken tajine and this tajine made from venison; what's next? Perhaps fish....


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Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 04 March 2013 at 05:31
Mark, the primary problem with the recipe and directions as printed is the amount of water. Keep in mind it was written at a time when most Americans had never even heard of, let alone owned, a tajine. Because it was designed to cook in a Dutch oven or casserole, it uses far more water than would be true with a tajine.
 
The final result, tastewise, should be pretty close to any authentic tajine. Worst case is that you'll have more broth than required---which is no big deal.
 
The FotW books were not unique to this. Several books on African cooking that are more or less contemporanious with them do the same thing.
 
When you start using your tajine you can control the liquid simply enough. Put the other ingredients in, then add the liquid to just below the ledge that supports the top cone. At most that will only be a cup to a cup and a half of liquid.


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 04 March 2013 at 07:55
Brook and Mark,
 
I do not employ 100% water; it is much tastier with either 100% home made stock broth or 50% broth and 50% water ... If using lamb; I would use lamb, veal or chicken broth ...
 
The slow low temperature of the oven, shall also produce pan juices inside the tagine ... and thus, be absolutely heavenly.
 
Margaux.


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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 04 March 2013 at 08:38
Personally I also use stock, Margi.
 
But both Mark and Ron were trying to make the recipes exactly as it was printed in the book. That's a thing to keep in mind; what is the cook's purpose. In this case, neither were looking for variations on the theme. Just the opposite, in fact.
 
Changing the amount of water doesn't change the recipe. It merely recognizes that there is a mechanical difference between braising in a Dutch oven and braising in a tajine. Being new to this type of cookery, it's important that they understand the difference.
 
Later on they can play with the recipe if they want.
 
 
 


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 04 March 2013 at 08:44
Brook,
 
I am pleased to hear, that you also employ home made stock broth ...
 
Yes, I understand your explanation ...
 
Here is a good question: Do you employ chicken, lamb or veal broth with the Lamb Tagine ?
 
I usually have used lamb; for chicken tagine, I use chicken broth homemade and for fish; I like shellfish broth depending on the fish being used or a fresh cod head broth ...
 
Thanks.
Margi.


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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 04 March 2013 at 09:06
Unfortunately, Margi, I never have enough bones for lamb stock. So I use either venison stock or a rich chicken stock for lamb.
 
Veal? Forget it. Veal, around here, requires a second mortgage. Ain't gonna happen'.
 
For a fish tajine I use a light seafood stock made with shrimp shells.


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 04 March 2013 at 10:31
My objective with this was to prepare it as closely as I could to how it would be prepared in a typical Moroccan home. I considered using broth or stock (beef) and also pre-searing the meat, but ultimately decided that your average everyday housewife in Fez or Marrakech would not do this, relying on the meat and onions to provide a broth and the roasting effect of the tajine to provide browning. I think that if I would have used even less water, I might have gotten more of the sizzling, roasting effect mentioned above, with some deeper flavours that would probably have been achieved in an "honest" way that would have been in line with my "peasant cooking" point of view.
 
Nevertheless, I must say that the combination was very good - worth a try for sure. A person can, if they choose, take it up a notch or two by searing the meat and onions before cooking the tajine - or using some stock rather than water, but I believe that it dilutes some of the experience as far as "traveling the world through your kitchen......" My goal was to make something that would be plausible and recognisable in a typical Moroccan household, rather than a fine dining establishment, and I believe I achieved this.
 
My treatment of the couscous was another matter - it simply seemed to make sense to dump the couscous in to soak up the cooking liquids and take on the flavours, turning it into a "one-pot meal," so to speak; but as far as I know this isn't done in North Africa, where I believe it is prepared and served separately.


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Posted By: MarkR
Date Posted: 04 March 2013 at 14:16
Quote Nevertheless, I must say that the combination was very good - worth a try for sure. A person can, if they choose, take it up a notch or two by searing the meat and onions before cooking the tajine - or using some stock rather than water, but I believe that it dilutes some of the experience as far as "traveling the world through your kitchen......" My goal was to make something that would be plausible and recognizable in a typical Moroccan household, rather than a fine dining establishment, and I believe I achieved this.


I agree and this was my goal also. And the dish is excellent! But a few thoughts.

1. The lamb, I have not worked with lamb before the sausage I made. I was struck by the similarity to venison. Both in color and texture, well taste too! Since I have no venison, lamb may be my substitute as I now have a reasonably priced source.

2. The "authenticity" of the recipe(s). In the 60s & 70's not many average American households had a Tajine in them. So the recipes had to be converted to something people were likely to have.

3. Spicing, as good as these dishes were/are, I could not help but think something was missing - perhaps cumin, paprika and a bit of cayenne? And I would bet there are things left out of the recipe. I think there is a reason for that. At the time these books were published, 60s & 70s, the culinary tastes and skills of the masses (American) was world class boring! Meat and taters with salt, pepper and butter! I think they (the authors) had to "tone them down" to keep them in the range of what people would eat!

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Mark R


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 04 March 2013 at 15:24
Paprika, perhaps Mark. But not cayenne. Not in a lamb tajine.
 
The most likely missing ingredients are black pepper and cinnamon. I just checked all my references, and those two are common to all lamb tajines. I can't understand why they were missing in the original; neither was rare or unusual even in the '60s.
 
Ironically, none of my references have this particular combination. Olives and lemons are more usually used with poultry. Figs, dates, quince, and apricots are more commonly found paired with lamb.
 
Cumin and coriander, both common to Moroccan cuisine, is more usually found in poultry tajines.
 
Interestingly, kicking things up, in terms of spice, is much more common with fish and seafood tajines, many of which include harissa or red chilies.
 
All that aside, if you make this again, and want more depth of flavor, try dusting the pieces of meat with ras el hanout before cooking. That will deepen the flavors, all of which are Moroccan, without overpowering the lamb with heat.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 04 March 2013 at 16:47
Some additional thoughts:

Perhaps it was presented merely as a generic tajine, rather than a locally collected recipe.

Neither cinnamon nor black pepper were considered particularly exotic in those days. Heck, my mother used them, and she was one of the most non-adventurous cooks I’ve ever known.

We need to look at the timing of, and reasons for, the Foods of the World series. They weren’t published to create a new awareness among American cooks. Their purpose was to capitalize on, and cater to, that already emerging culinary sophistication.

The ‘60s and ‘70s were an exciting time for American cooks. Julia Child had revolutionized television cooking shows; Craig Claibourne was reigning as the king of food journalists - and his influences on that field have yet to be fully appreciated. James Beard was at his peak. Americans were discovering and exploring all sorts of exciting world cuisines. And snapping up cookbooks that purported to take them on those global culinary adventures.

Into that milieu steps Time/Life with a series of books that was perfect for the times. “Why be satisfied with a few recipes from a foreign land,” the books proclaimed, “when you can have, in a collector’s edition, the cuisine of an entire country at your fingertips.” A very telling message. But it didn’t begin to slow the wave of books and magazine articles and newspaper stories.

Here’s an example. A Quintet of Cuisines, from which this recipe comes, was published in 1970. By 1973, Paula Wolfert’s seminal CousCous and Other Good Food From Morocco had taken the American cooking world by storm. It was an instant hit

I can’t believe that American taste buds catapulted from no black pepper & cinnamon, to things like 30-ingredient ras el hanouts, in just three years.

Certainly the FotW series was designed to have as broad a reach as possible. And many times flavors were toned down to make them more appealing to a wider range of people. I just don’t think that was the case with this recipe. Frankly, I believe it was just sloppy reporting on Field’s part.

Be that as it may, you did, indeed, pick up on the fact that something was missing from the tajine you made. Cinnamon and black pepper are the ingredients that you’re not tasting, for whatever reason they were left out of the recipe. Try adding them in, next time, and see what happens. I would start with a large stick of cinnamon, broken in three or four pieces, and about a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Then adjust from there.

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But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 05 March 2013 at 03:09

Mark, Brook and Tas,

 
Here are the general Ras El Hanout Moroccan Spices employed ( from one of the Moroccan Markets I frequent ):
 
Firstly, Ras El Hanout signifies Top Shelf or Top of the Shop, as only the best spices are employed in this dry spice blend ...
 
1) CAYENNE
2) SMOKED PAPRIKA ( LA VERA PIMENTÓN DULCE ) SWEET
3) SMOKED PAPRIKA ( LA VERA PIMENTÓN PICANTE ) PIQUANT ( note: this is also grown and cultivated in Morocco in Spanish Companies and indicated Made In Morocco )
4) SAFFRON THREADS
5) CUMIN
6) CORIANDER SEEDS
7) GINGER
8) NUTMEG
9) ALL SPICE
10) BLACK PEPPER FRESHLY GROUND
11) NUTMEG
12) TUMERIC
13) CARDAMOM SEEDS
14) FENNEL SEEDS
15) CILANTRO FRESH HERB
16) ORANGE OR LEMON ZEST
17) ROSE & OTHER FLORAL BUDS DRY
 
 
I enquired, and there is No Set Standard; however, these 17 are the base; though a Moroccan merchant may place up to 50 varieites of dry spices to create this blend; each restaurant, bazaar and family having their exotic spice recipe ... That is why the name of this spice blend is called Top Shelf in English ...
 
Kind regards.
Margi.  


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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 05 March 2013 at 05:45
For a more in-depth look at these flavors, check out our discussion of Moroccan flavors here: http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/basic-moroccan-flavorings_topic1853_page1.html" rel="nofollow - http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/basic-moroccan-flavorings_topic1853_page1.html


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 05 March 2013 at 07:13
Also, see my Lamb and Date Tagine from Morocco ... The Moroccans and the Mid Easterners, have a great penchant for combining dried or fresh fruit and edible flowers with their meats ... It is very common in Granada, Andalusia in Spain as well; employing: pomegrante seeds, apricots dried or fresh, fresh figs, dried figs, prunes, raisins, and oranges dried and / or fresh ... Amongst other dry or fresh fruit ...

Kind regards,
Margi

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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 15 March 2013 at 08:10
Here are the photos from when I made this with venison - it was very good!
 
Preparation was easy as could be - we jsut tossed all the ingredinets together in the tajine and cooked it, starting with a cold oven that we gradually heated to 300 degrees, then to 325. As far as I can tell, it came out in very traditional fashion, without any "Americanised" modifications.
 
 
The only real execution error here is that we forgot to cook it with the olives (we added them when it was served); also, as you can see, there might have been a little too much olive oil.
 
I don't know how "correct" it is to do this, but I've found that couscous is a great way to soak up the cooking liquids:
 
 
In addition to what was in the tajine, I added another cup or so of boiling water so that the couscous could fluff up nicely.
 
This tajine was very, very good; the flavours and spices came together very well, with the onions especially lending a fabulous aroma as they cooked in the meat juices. The msir added a nice citrus accent while the venison itself was savory, full of flavour and tender as could be.
 
 
I'll definitely make this again, taking a little more care to get the olives in, of course; I will also see about adding a few other basic Moroccan flavourings - garlic, cinnamon, perhaps some ras el hanout... and definitely some smoked paprika.


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Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 15 March 2013 at 08:36
Looks great, Ron.
 
No, it wouldn't be "correct" to mix the couscous into the tajine. But so what? If that's how you wanted to serve it, that's the way it should be.
 
If you're concerned about authenticity, tajines and cous cous are separate types of dishes, made differently. Regular cous cous (unlike the quick-cooking kind we find in the States) requires several washings and rubbings, and is then cooking in a specialized vessel called a couscouserie. Very often a stew of some sort provides the steam that cooks the grain, and they get mixed after the fact.
 
In other words, the end result is pretty close to what you wound up with. They would likely call your dish a cous cous, however, rather than a tajine.
 
Ain't semantics grand! Confused


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 15 March 2013 at 08:53
I agree, Brook - technically, this was probably more of a couscous than a tajine, but like you say, the end result isn't too much different. I didn't have any good bread to sop up all that wonderful-looking broth, so this seemed a great way to put it to work!
 
Come to think of it, I'll bet that this dish would pair perfectly with some old-style barley bread ~ Smile
 
As mentioned in one of my posts above, I think next time I'll use a little less water/stock/broth. With this preparation, I added enough to come halfway up the ingredinets, but of course they made their own liquid, which added more. Next time, I'll see about adding about half as mcuh as I did, and note the results. I'll also play with some spices and herbs, and see what happens....


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Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 15 March 2013 at 08:58
Sounds like a plan.
 
One thing: If you're starting with a cold oven there's no need to gradually increase the temp. Just set it to the final figure you want. The tajine will heat slowly with no danger of cracking.
 
Only time there's a possibility of harm is if you preheat the oven, then put the cold tajine into it.


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 22 February 2018 at 11:15
A friend in Europe recently made a variation of this dish, using a recipe from a really great blog on Moroccan cooking:

http://www.mymoroccanfood.com/

The recipe can be found here:

http://www.mymoroccanfood.com/home/lamb-tagine-with-quince?rq=lamb%20tagine%20with%20quince

This variation adds quince, a fruit that I have heard about but have never encountered personally.

My friend used lamb neck and - other than adding a bit of black pepper - followed the recipe fairly closely. There is an ongoing discussion in cooking circles about whether or not to sear/brown the meat in a tajine; traditionally, it not usually done or - if it is done - the browning is very light and possibly incidental to the whole cooking process. For this preparation, my friend had these words on the subject:

Quote When building a tagine with ingredients, you will notice it mostly starts with a layer of onions and other flavor makers, then the raw meat goes on top. I did the same but gave a little wiggle to each piece of meat until it touched the bottom. I'm not sure but maybe that's what is done in traditional tagines too?




He cooked the dish in a stainless steel sauteuse, then served it in the bottom half of a tajine cooking vessel. I must say, the results were absolutely beautiful.



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Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 23 February 2018 at 10:47
As time passes and we learn more, it becomes easier to spot areas there improvements can be made. In the original recipe from the opening post of this thread, the ingredients and general concepts are good, but the execution by Time/Life's test kitchen seem to need some modification, both to keep the recipe traditional, and for improving the quality and flavour of the end product. Here are some suggestions to take a great dish and make it even better, from a friend in Europe who has quite a bit of experience with Moroccan cuisine:

Quote When I read the first post and the recipe of that El Lahm thread, I couldn’t believe how similar it is to what I cooked! There are a few things in that El Lahm recipe however that caught my attention:

Adding saffron to oil in which the meat is going to be seared would be a mistake. Saffron loses its fragrance if it’s heated too much.

Adding onions after the braising liquid is added should be avoided. This is a dish with an onion sauce as can be seen from the amount of onion used. You get the maximum of flavor by sweating onion and garlic as long as possible. The harsh onion taste will become fragrant, soft and sweet only after some 10 minutes of sweating, so this should be done before the braising liquid is added.

As for the amount of liquid used, braises use very little amounts of liquid at a time, unlike stews where the meat is submerged. In a traditional tagine, they start off with adding maybe one cup, then you should see where it goes. If necessary, more liquid is added and always poured along the sides of the tagine, never on top of the preparation. It is a known fact that your meat can toughen when pouring cold liquid over it while cooking.

This onion sauce should be thick and coat the meat when done. That’s also the task of the onions; when cooked properly and long enough, they will thicken the sauce.

Traditionally water is used as a braising liquid in tagines, but in modern cooking, even in North-African kitchens, stock is used. I’m including a picture of tiny stock cubes made by Knorr for that market.



It contains an orange-colored “saffron” cube. Maybe the word "saffron" is a bit exaggerated, but it works; it adds flavor and color. I didn’t use it in my dish, as I used a vegetal stock base, like the recipe prescribes, but it is a good option.


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Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 23 February 2018 at 17:31
Other than the Knorr cube, everything your friend says is right on the button, Ron.

As to the cube: While I'm not familiar with that particular version, in my experience all such items contain far to much salt. So I try and avoid them.

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But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 03 May 2018 at 03:55

This would be wonderful with chicken, breasts on or off bone ..  




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Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.



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