GRAB A TASTE OF NORTH AFRICA
A COLLECTION of 445 exciting and accessible recipes that celebrate North Africa’s vibrant and diverse food culture has just been published.
Extensively researched and 20 years in the making, The North African Cookbook is described as the definitive and largest collection of traditional North African cooking.
The work features both classic dishes – such as couscous, pastilla, harira soup and tagines – and ones that are less popular to outsiders.
Focusing on the Maghreb region – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya – the book explores the region’s vast culinary diversity and history.
From Berber, Arabic, and Ottoman influences as well as French, Spanish and Italian, the book offers a comprehensive overview of how native as well as European colonialism influences the region’s traditions today.
In addition to a range of authentic recipes from across the Maghreb, the book also looks at daily life in North Africa today through the lens of its richly diverse food culture.
The new book is penned by award-winning food writer, journalist and author Jeff Koehler, who traces the stories, culinary history and the fascinating similarities and differences found across the four countries.
A wide network of culinary voices from across North Africa guided the project over the years.
In a region so vast and so diverse, Koehler looked to many hundreds of experts, with each sharing their own small piece of grand gastronomic mosaic.
Sardine fishermen on Morocco’s Atlantic coast and Tunisian octopus fisherman off of Sfax, farmers selling sheep on the outskirts of Algiers before a key holiday and those in Tunis’s covered market with foraged herbs.
There were pastry makers in Kairouan, cheese makers in the Rif and butchers in Oran, Algerian Berbers hand-rolling couscous, Moroccan women in a small co-op pressing argan oil, men harvesting dates and even helping a family harvest their own saffron in Taliouine, Morocco.
And while Koehler spent much time in kitchens with home cooks – and in countless small home-style eateries – he also sought out renowned experts like Chef Mounir Arem, owner of the Tunis restaurant La Barroque, President of the Académie Nationale de Cuisine (Délégation Tunisie) and founding member of l’Association Tunisienne de l’Art Culinaire.
Spicy Honeyed Lamb with Raisins and Almonds
Preparation Time: 25 minutes, plus marinating and soaking time
Cooking Time: 2 hours 30 minutes – 3 hours
Mrouzia is one of Morocco’s great festive dishes and traditionally prepared after Eid al-Adha – ‘feast of the sacrifice’ – when there is plenty of lamb to cook. It is often made with bony cuts, such as saddle, neck and shoulder.
These cuts give plenty of flavour as they slowly cook to extreme tenderness. The honey and raisins add sweet notes that perfectly contrast the ras al hanout spice blend. The final sauce should be deep brown, rich and glazy.
- 2 teaspoons ras al hanout spice blend
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
- 1.5 kg/3¼ lb mix of bone-in lamb neck, saddle and/or shoulder, cut into 8–10 generous pieces
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 25 g/1 oz (2 tablespoons) butter
- 2 red or yellow onions, finely chopped
- 200 g/7 oz (scant 1½ cups) seedless raisins
- 100 g/3½ oz (2⁄3 cup) whole almonds
- neutral oil, for frying
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 120 ml/4 fl oz (½ cup) honey
- salt and pepper
Put the ras al hanout, ginger and saffron with two tablespoons water into a large bowl and mix together, then season with salt and pepper.
Add the pieces of lamb, one by one, turning to coat. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Put the meat and all of the marinade into a large, heavy pot or casserole dish (Dutch oven).
Add the olive oil, butter and onions and cook over a medium-high heat for five minutes, turning the meat. Pour in 250 ml (8 fl oz/1 cup) water, loosely cover with a lid and cook over a low heat until the meat is tender and the water evaporated, 2–2 ½ hours. Add a touch of water if needed during cooking or remove the lid.
Meanwhile, put the raisins into a small heatproof bowl of lukewarm water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Put the almonds into a medium saucepan of water, bring to the boil and boil for three to five minutes, then drain. Once cool enough to handle, slip off the skins with your fingers. Spread the almonds out on paper towels to dry.
Line a medium plate with paper towels. Heat about 7 mm/1⁄3 inch of neutral oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat until the surface shimmers. Add the almonds and fry for one to two minutes until just golden.
Transfer with a slotted spoon to the paper towels to drain. Set aside.
Add the soaked raisins, cinnamon and honey to the lamb, and cook, uncovered, over a very low heat until the sauce has reduced and the meat comes away easily from the bone, about 30 minutes.
Arrange the lamb on a serving platter, cover with the glazy sauce and scatter over the almonds. Serve.
Title: The North African Cookbook, Author: Jeff Koehler, Pub Date: April 26, 2023, Price: $74.95, Binding: Hardback, Extent: 468 pages, Illustrations: 137 col illus, ISBN: 9781838666262, Pre-order: phaidon.com