Do you know what I like most in travels? The fact they inspire, of course! And they do, in every possible field and area. They inspire to learn, to get to know new things, explore new styles, ways of spending free time and flavors. Travels open you to novelties and shape your taste.
The most frequent inspirations I get from the places I visit are those connected with cuisines and manners of eating meals. Because food is not only what we eat, but it’s also cooking together, the ritual of sharing the food and the meals… it’s even the way of being with another person.
The Moroccan cuisine is definitely different from other Arabic cuisines. The reason is simple. Morocco for long time has been under influence of other cultures, adopting their customs, what affected the food as well.
Fruits, vegetables and meat have the lead in Moroccan food – mainly mutton and lamb but also beef, chicken, camel or rabbit meat. The meals are spiced and seasoned heavily with caraway, fresh coriander, saffron, mint, ginger, curry, sweet red paprika, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper. It’s also very common and typical to use pickled lemons aromas.
The dishes have sweet additions that relieve the main taste, like dates, raisins, almonds, honey, quince nuts or dried plums (prunes). Before serving, they are often sprinkled, or even doused, with argan oil, which gives the nutty taste.
The traditional Moroccan cuisine has, however, lots of calories and is full of fatty foods. But there is no reason not to “diet” it a little, keeping its oriental character. I have such recipe for you – one of my favorites. It’s inspired by colorful, oriental land that is throbbing with tastes. Morocco.
Aromatic moroccan chicken with date couscous and minty yogurt
Ingredients (2 servings)
1. Prepare marinade: in a bowl mix the dry spices with pinch of salt and pepper, add 2 heaped spoons of natural thick yogurt and 2 teaspoons of oil and then stir thoroughly. Coat the meat in the marinade and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
2. Pour boiling water over dates and apricots and set aside for a few minutes. Then drain them, cool and cut into big pieces.
3. The rest of the natural thick yogurt should go to a bowl – sprinkle it with chopped mint (this way you’d use the whole package and nothing would waste). Put it in the fridge.
4. Fry the meat on a dry griddle pan, few minutes for every side, until it would be fried nicely outside but still moist inside (check with a knife, you can bake the meat
5. While the meat sizzles on the pan, prepare couscous in accordance with the instruction on the package. When it absorbs all the water, add sliced dates and apricots, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of oil and a pinch of salt. Then add chopped coriander leaves and mix it. It’s ready to be put on your plates.
6. Slice the grilled meat and place it on the couscous. Serve it with refreshing mint yogurt.
And now, when everything is ready, the most pleasant part – eating! Inspired by Moroccan style, I decided to throw an oriental picnic, which is not that hard to do, to be honest. You just need a colorful blanket or rug, lots of motley pillows, colorful plates and a good company. In Moroccan culture, eating with people who you are close with – family or friends – is absolutely basic.
The Moroccans eat often from one plate and they don’t use cutlery. They gather the food from the plate with a piece of bread or dip it in a sauce. This style of common meals and sharing the food influences also the feeling of unity and creates closeness, intimacy.
After the meal – obligatory mint tea, served in small but richly decorated tumblers and dried or fresh fruits, like dates, nuts, grapes or peaches.
I encourage you to use this beautiful summer and to get inspired by the oriental style of spending free time!