Hi again! Well obviously I’ve got you hooked on the idea of cooking Moroccan, which is fabulous, and you’re back for more! The timing of this blog couldn’t be more appropriate considering I’m about to head to Europe in a just over a week, with a planned weekend trip to Marrakech. Nothing is set in stone, but I’ve had a hankering for some authentic Moroccan tajine for some time now. I’ve also been craving some fresh squeezed orange juice from the main square, and I could definitely use a fun little retail therapy in the souks. But while I was having cravings, I was remembering how much weight I packed on during my three weeks in Morocco. Moroccan food can be incredibly unhealthy, especially if you’re eating it in the kinds of quantities that I was! Perhaps this time around I should be running on a treadmill while I’m having a meal! But in all seriousness, Moroccan can be healthy, it just depends on what ingredients you’re incorporating into your dishes.
Chickpeas. Lucky for you, chick peas are not only a Moroccan staple, but incredibly healthy. They’re used in a multitude of Moroccan recipes and they’re an excellent source of protein. There is a bit of an art form to cooking chickpeas however. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be some fancy chef to get the method right, you just have to have a little patience. I always pre-soak the chickpeas before I use them, and when they get to be quite plump, I rinse them, and them bring them to a gentle boil. If I’m not using them right away, I’ll actually free them into different ziplock containers that way, when I’m cooking a Moroccan meal, I don’t have to worry about starting the lengthy process all over again. And if you don’t have copious amounts of time to be in the kitchen this is a great idea!
Cumin. I don’t just cumin in Moroccan cooking, it’s one of my favorite spices in the whole world. And if you’re not using cumin in your cooking, your going to now! Not only is cumin delicious, but it has a plethora of health options. In some of the outlying villages outside of places like Essouira, the locals told me that they often used cumin to help aid in digestion. And according to a few things that I read, it also acts as a powerful antiseptic. It’s also rich in iron and it’s a superb detoxifier. It’s almost like a super spice isn’t it! If you’re sitting down to dinner in a traditional Moroccan home, you’ll find cumin spice on the table at all times, and it’s used not only in the dishes that are prepared for you, but it’s also used as a seasoning. Delicious!
Cinnamon. You know how in North America when we think of cinnamon as being something found in baked sweets? Well, in places like Morocco, and among other Middle Eastern influenced cultures, cinnamon is used in savory dishes. Cinnamon actually has one of the highest antioxidant levels out of any other spic out there, did you know that? Bet you didn’t! Like cumin, it also aids in digestion and if you use it in one of your tajines, I guarantee you, your dinner guests are going to leave happy. You can also toss some cinnamon into a curry, yum! Or use it for a very simple, yet delicious Moroccan dessert, fresh sliced oranges with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dash of homemade yogurt.
Alright, now that you’re a bit more familiar with some of the spices used in Moroccan cooking, and you see that they have healthy side effects, it’s time to get cooking!