Historic links with North Africa have been boosted by recent immigration. As a result, there are lots of Morrocan restaurants and ingredients in the Axarquia. If you fancy cooking at home – try our recipes for; Chicken Tajine, Cous Cous (dry method), Cous Cous (wet method), Lamb Tajine and Lamb & Apricot Tajine.
Chicken pieces on the bone
2-3 cloves of Garlic (crushed)
1 tsp sea salt
1 large onion peeled and grated or sliced thinly
8-10 slices of Middle-eastern preserved lemon
2 tsp of Moroccan Spice (Ras-el-hanut) or substitute Garam Masala
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp powdered saffron threads
4 table spoons olive oil
2 ozs butter
a handful of black olives (black look good in the dish)
½ to ¾ of a pint of chicken stock
Fresh or dried coriander to decorate
1) Mix together the salt, crushed garlic and other spices and rub it into the chicken skin.
2) Lightly brown the chicken in a frying pan and then place in a Tajine or casserole dish.
3) Brown the onions in the olive oil and butter, add the stock and the saffron and pour over the chicken.
4) Add the lemon slices and olives, cover and cook slowly (160 degrees C for 2 hours or more) checking occasionally that there is still enough liquid to keep the dish moist.
5) Serve with boiled potatoes, couscous or integral rice and green beans, preferably at the table, especially if cooked in a Tajine which makes a superb centre-piece.
Cous Cous (dry method)
This method produces the dry, crumbly texture usually served in restaurants and perhaps not as tasty as the wet method following. The separate grains produced work well to mop up sauces, particularly spiced sauces and vegetables.
1) Soak the cous cous in cold water for a few minutes, then drain.
Cous Cous (wet method)
2oz (60g) or 1/3 cup dry cous cous per portion
7 fl oz (200ml) or 1/2 cup stock or fluid per portion
1 teaspoon oil
Spices and herbs to taste
1) Heat the oil in a pan with a close-fitting lid.
2) Fry any spices until coloured, with whole spices first, then adding ground spices, then wet flavourings (eg garlic or chilli).
3) Add the stock to the pan, and bring to the boil. Depending on taste, the stock can be pre-made or a stock cube added to each portion of water. If you use stock cubes, you’re unlikely to need any extra salt.
4) Add the cous cous and any dried herbs. Take off the heat, stir and cover.
5) Fresh herbs can either be added halfway through soaking, or just prior to serving depending on the desired effect and the delicacy of the herb.
6) After ten minutes or so, the fluid will have been absorbed. Stir to separate the grains.
7) (Optional) add a little butter or oil, stir and re-cover for a minute or two.
8) Serve as a side dish
1½ kg of lamb cut into pieces
2 kg of artichoke
2 kg of green beans (can be mixed)
1 coffee spoon of ginger
1 pinch of saffron
1 clove of garlic
3 soup spoons of oil
A preserved lemon
1) Pour the oil into a pressure cooker and shake in the meat.
2) Add salt, ginger, saffron and garlic, and mix into the meat.
3) Add water and begin to cook.
4) Clean the artichokes, blanch in hot water with lemon and vinegar, then add to the meat.
5) Cook the beans for 10 minutes in water, then add to the meat with the preserved lemon and olives.
Lamb & Apricot Tajine
1½ kg lean lamb, cubed
2 crushed garlic cloves
5 tablespoons orange juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 onion, thinly sliced
½ cup dried apricots, soaked overnight in water
1/4 cup pitted dried dates, coarsely chopped
2 cups stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sesame seeds to garnish
1) In a large non-metallic dish, mix the lamb with the garlic, orange juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the herbs and spices.
2) Cover and leave overnight in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.
3) Heat the remaining oil in a flameproof casserole, then add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove and reserve.
4) Drain the lamb, reserving the marinade.
5) Quickly brown the lamb in the casserole then add the reserved marinade, apricots in water, dates, stock, onion, and seasoning.
6) Bring just to the boil, then cover and cook gently for 1 hour until the lamb is very tender.
7) Uncover towards the end of the cooking to allow some of the liquid to evaporate and thicken the sauce.
8) Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.