When we first planned our Moroccan food day, we decided to make it an all day event and make breakfast, lunch and dinner. Since we took it a little easier the previous week with the Masters using a lot of pre-made items, we decided to go in the exact opposite direction, and make all 3 Moroccan meals from scratch. Sound like a lot of work? We quickly realized, it was.
First off, you may be asking, why Morocco? Well, why not?! We were looking for something a little different, that was unique and exotic, but not so exotic that you can’t find any real information on it. It’s also a country that we’d love to visit, and that was really all the reasoning we needed.
First up, like always, we had to decide on the menu. It was important to us that we used authentic and traditional recipes, and after a little research, we landed on 3 meals:
- Breakfast: Baghrir (Moroccan Spongy Semolina Pancakes)
- Lunch: Moroccan Chicken Tagine
- Dinner: Couscous with Seven Vegetables
- Dessert: None this time (shocking for us, we know)
Breakfast Prep – Baghrir Beginnings
To kick off our day in the kitchen, we started on the baghrir. Baghrir is a pancake, but with a unique twist. It’s made with semolina flour and yeast. I’ve worked with yeast a little in doughs, but never in pancake, and semolina flour I’ve only ever used for pastas. So this was new to me! It felt much more like a bread recipe than a pancake recipe. Make sure to give yourself extra time for this one, because there’s a waiting period while the batter (dough?) rises. So while the batter was rising, we made the tea.
Apparently, mint tea is hugely popular in Morocco. While searching online for Moroccan recipes, mint tea was easily the most common result. So naturally, we were all in.
The recipe we found called for gun powder tea, which we couldn’t find. Instead, we used loose green tea leaves that we bought at the local farmers market (even though we live in a region where green tea doesn’t grow, but more on farmers markets in a later post).
All in all, it was pretty easy to make. All the recipes we found called for using a teapot with a strainer, which we didn’t have. Instead we used a teacup that had a strainer built in, which luckily did the job just fine. We thought the process of rinsing the tea leaves with the boiling water before steeping it seemed a little odd, but it did not seem to take away from the flavor. Like I said, it was a pretty simple process of just steeping tea, sugar and mint all together. It was also the simplest thing we’d do all day.
And the result? It was pretty damn good! I’m not a tea lover, and even I loved it! (It’s possible it could have been because of all the sugar that was in it, but either way, it was great.) We originally planned to just have the tea for breakfast, but ended up making it 3 more times throughout the day.
Breakfast – Back to Baghrir
Now that we had our tea, it was back to our baghrir “batter”. What was fascinating was that the batter both rose, and stayed liquidity at the same time. In truth, we’re still not totally sure that we did everything right, but since we’ve never tasted these (or really any Moroccan food) before, we didn’t really have a good comparison. We’ll admit they didn’t exactly look like the photos, and we probably should have used a smaller pan to get a better shape. We also probably should have thinned the batter a little more, but it still worked out well.
Baghrir is traditionally served with honey and butter – which means you DO NOT use maple syrup. This went against ALL of our New England instincts, but we rolled with it.
We should mention, utensils aren’t really used in Morocco, and its typical to eat meals with your hands, so we did! As someone who is a little OCD with washing her hands, this took me a few minutes to get used to, but it was definitely a fun add to the day. And the baghrir was delicious! It was a little more dense than a regular pancake and not as sweet, but it had a good flavor. We were off to a good start!
Tagine – Moroccan Food, Minus the Tagine
Next up, in our Moroccan food lineup: lunch, aka, the beginning of lots and lots of cooking and prep.. for the rest of the day. Our lunch recipe was Moroccan Chicken Tagine. Tagine is named after the pot the chicken is cooked in. While we own a lot of kitchen equipment, this is not one of those items. Instead we improvised, and used a cast iron skillet.
While there wasn’t anything particularly difficult about this recipe, there was A LOT of prep, and multiple stages of cooking. We would cook the chicken, remove it from the pan, cook something else, remove, and repeat… In total, it took about an hour and half or prep and cooking, which was quite a bit of work just for lunch.
Luckily, it was worth the effort and was delicious. The sauce was unique, being sweet and fruity while also savory, and the chicken was super tender. Again, we opted for no utensils. Traditionally, this would be eaten with your hands, using small pieces of bread for utensils, but we had to improvise again. We used the leftover baghrir from the morning, andddd a random piece of white bread we had leftover from the farmers market (we deducted an authenticity point from ourselves on this).
The tagine was definitely the star recipe of the day, and in hindsight it should have been our dinner, and we should have called it a day.
Unfortunately, we didn’t.
Dinner – a Failed Masterpiece of Moroccan Cuisine
Last up, our Couscous with Seven Vegetables. What was supposed to be the quintessential Moroccan dish…was a massive fail.
To start, we weren’t hungry. Breakfast and lunch were filling enough, so by the time we started dinner, the 2 hour cooking process was taking us into the late night.
This recipe also called for another unique appliance that we don’t have. A Couscoussier steamer, aka, a couscous maker – which is essentially 2 pots stacked on top of one other. It’s designed to cook the vegetables, broth and meat in one pot, and steam the couscous in the other. Instead we used our dutch oven and made couscous from a box. We used boxed couscous in the interest of saving us time (fun fact, it probably didn’t).
Remember the lots of prep and lots of stages of cooking from lunch? This was worse. Mostly because every 10-15 minutes, we had to add a new set of ingredients to our pot, and we hope you have the largest pot in the world, because if not, prepare for it to overflow. We used our dutch oven, and we should have reduced the recipe by a fourth. By the time we added the 3rd set of ingredients to the pot, it was already starting to overflow. We literally had to move broth and ingredients one spoonful at a time to separate pan to continue cooking. While it was hilarious, it wasn’t exactly the most efficient method.
Finally, after hours of slaving over a meal that we weren’t even hungry for, we were ready to eat. You would think that after cooking a lot of ingredients in a pot for hours, there would at least be a lot of flavor in the dish. You would also be thinking wrong. Ironically, our favorite part about this dish, was the boxed couscous. It makes us sad because a world famous dish like this couldn’t possibly be this mediocre, which means we clearly did a very poor job of making this.
There was zero flavor, there were giant chunks of vegetables, and the meat had boiled down to essentially a small bone with a just little cartilage attached. Even our presentation went wrong. Since we didn’t have enough couscous to make the large family style meal that looks like a mountain, we had to make small individual sized servings, and, spoiler, it didn’t go well, and our mountain caved in.
It was definitely a disappointing finish to a long day of hard work, but all in all the day was a lot of fun, and at least we still had our tea!
Usually when we do a theme day, we save dessert to enjoy with our entertainment. Despite our best Googling efforts, we couldn’t find any dessert recipes for Morocco. We haven’t confirmed that dessert isn’t common in Morocco, and we personally find it hard to believe, but again, we were VERY full, and just ready to relax.
We were in the mood for something light, and found a film called Tazzeka on one of the streaming services. The film follows a young man named Elias on his journey from his village in Morocco and his quest to become a famous French chef. A Moroccan movie about food? It was perfect for us! Plus, we got to see a lot of the dishes we had just made – and got confirmation about how poorly we had made them. It was a good movie, and one we definitely recommend.
So was our day in the kitchen worth it? Yes! But we definitely learned which mistakes we shouldn’t make again.
Have you ever tried to make any Moroccan food? What did you try? What worked? What didn’t? We’d love to hear from you!