Vote for my Shawerma Tuna Flavour for a chance to win AED 15,000

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Baked Fish in Banana Leaves - A fusion of Morrocan and Omani Flavours & Techniques

Baked Fish in Banana Leaves

I have drawn this recipe’s inspiration from the Omani use of banana leaves to cover the meats when making Shiwa but have chosen to use this technique in making fish instead of a meat dish. I have used the mutual spices used by both Omani & Moroccan Cuisines to flavor the fish, also aromatizing it with fresh coriander (you can use parsley if you prefer, but coriander pairs better with these flavours).
All together make this dish a delicious and highly aromatic Moroccan/Omani fusion.

This Recipe is very healthy and  diabetic friendly. It is impressive in presentation, as it is always nice to serve your food looking different from what everyone expects. It is Delicious and definitely takes out boredom from your recipe repertoire! 

You NeedServes 4
4 Medium whole sea bass, cleaned and skin scored
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
A pinch of Saffron
1 tbsp cumin powder
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp olive oil
juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 lemons, sliced
4bay leaves
1 small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
2 white onions, sliced into thin disks

In a small bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, cumin powder, black pepper and saffron. Add 1/2 the quantity chopped coriander and mix well. Rub this mixture all over the each fish, inside, out and into the scored flesh. Individually, place the coated fish over a banana leaf and fill it with the chopped coriander, sliced onion and lemon disks as well as a bay leaf and 1 tbsp of the remaining spice rub mixture. Cover the fish fully with the banana leaves as shown in the video below.

Place the wrapped fish over a baking sheet and roast for 25-45 minutes (depending the size of the fish) or until cooked through and flesh flakes easily. 

Serve hot alongside lentil Pilaf, roasted vegetables or Salad.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Exciting News for UAE's Aspiring Chefs!

Samsung hunts for UAE’s Best Aspiring Chef, teaming up with BBC Good Food Middle East to launch competition... 

Samsung is calling amateur chefs across the UAE to register for its brand new competition, Samsung Aspiring Chef competition to be in with a chance of winning a host of prizes that will help launch one lucky person’s career path.

To be in with a chance of stealing the title, applicants will need to head and register by May 31st where they will need to submit an original recipe to be considered for the shortlist.

Mohammad Gharaibeh, General Manager of HA division, Samsung Gulf commented, “We are really looking forward to seeing what participants bring to the table as we search for the best amateur chefs across the UAE. We will provide participants with the support and skills they need to progress their careers, from hands on culinary experience to the latest in our technology, and as such we welcome all aspiring chefs to take part.”

Sudeshna Ghosh, Senior Editor of BBC Good Food Middle East, “I am constantly amazed by the amount of culinary talent that is out there among our loyal community of foodies. There are a number of people who started out small, but have found success around their passion for food. We love giving budding chefs the chance to take their dreams and abilities to the next level through various initiatives that we offer, and this, the first Samsung Aspiring Chef competition in association with BBC Good Food ME, is set to be one of the biggest opportunities for an amateur chef, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the quality of entries.”

A total of eight individuals will then be entered into a cook-off to battle it out for the grand prize, where participants will be required to turn a mystery box of ingredients into a mouthwatering dish to impress the judges.

The lucky finalist will receive an all-expenses paid culinary course at SCAFA, Dubai's School of Culinary and Finishing Arts, as well as having one of their recipes’ published in a BBC Good Food Middle East Recipe book and the latest fridge from Samsung, helping them to launch a long and prosperous career.

To register for the competition, please log onto 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Traditional Moroccan Bastila - Pigeon Bastila

The Specialty of the Moroccan city Fes, also known as the 'Bastila of Fes'
is essentially a pie filled with the traditional pigeon filling

There are many versions to Bastila, more so today, with varieties of fillings and even a dessert version (find the recipe on this link) of this originally savoury-sweet pie. However the original traditional Bastila is known to be one that is filled with pigeon meat, and also known to be the specialty of Fes. This Bastila is also referred to as the Bastila of Fes. With that said, Bastila is now very well known made with a chicken filling, and at times even using quail meat. When I asked the ladies in Morocco they instructed that all fillings are made with the same ingredients, including spices and aromatics and the only difference is the type of meat used. The only exception of course are fish and seafood, which use different spices and aromatics.

I have chosen to go with the traditional Bastila recipe here, because as you know, I do have a soft spot for old, traditional recipes. Besides, this one is elaborate, lavish and absolutely succulent! But feel free to adapt this recipe to chicken, turkey (think Christmas with a difference) or quails.

Bastila sheets are easily found nowadays, however if you live in an area where these are no where to be found, then follow the amazingly easy recipe on this link to make these sheets at home.

Pigeon Bastila الوصفة بالعربي آخر البوست
Serves 6 main course portions
You Need

7 large Bastila Sheets
egg wash to brush the Bastila before baking in the oven
icing sugar to garnish the finished dish
powdered cinnamon to garnish the finished dish

For the filling
Tier 1- the almond mixture
250g toasted almonds then crushed
3 mastic crystals finely crushed
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

Tier 2 - the pigeon mixture
4-5 large pigeons, cleaned and ready to cook
4 medium onions, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch coriander, leaves separated from stems and kept whole
generous pinch saffron threads
1/4 cup orange blossom water
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground saffron
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & black pepper to taste

Start with the pigeons. Make sure they are cleaned thoroughly and pat dried. In a bowl mix together all the spices, seasoning, half the quantity of olive oil, the saffron and the orange blossom water and stir to mix. Rub the pigeons inside and out with this mixture and set the bowl aside.

In a tagine pot, place the remaining half the quantity of the olive oil and top with the chopped onion, crushed garlic and coriander leaves. Season with salt and black pepper and mix all well. Place the pigeons on top of this mixture and add 1/2 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over high heat for 45 minutes - 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the almond mixture, by mixing all the ingredients very well together. Set aside until ready to use.

When the pigeons are finished cooking, pull their meat and discard the skin and bones. then assemble the Bastila.

Place 4 Bastila sheets intersecting at the centre, then place 1 sheet in the centre where all four sheets meet. Top with the pigeon filling and spread evenly, keeping the edges free to pull in, when done. Top the pigeon filling with another Bastila sheet then top with the almond filling. Spread evenly then cover with another sheet of Bastila, tucking in all the edges of this final sheet. pull the bottom sheets upwards and fold over to cover all the sides of the pie. Your pie should now be fully covered all round. brush with the egg wash to keep all sheets in tact, then carefully flip the pie upside down. Brush the top part with the egg wash and bake in a 200F (150C) oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Then sprinkle with the icing sugar and cinnamon as in the picture above. Serve warm.

بسطيلة الحمام هي الوصفة التقليدية للبسطيلة والمعروفة فيها مدينة فاس المغربية
حتى وأنها تسمى البسطيلة الفاسية
هالأيام في كتير وصفات بسطيلة وكتير بيستعملوا حشوات مختلفة من دجاج لسمك وثمار البحر وحتى لحم السمان والديك الرومي (بسطيلة الديك الرومي طبق كتير مبهر لما يتقدم بمناسبة متل الكريسماس أو عيد الفصح).  حتى هاي الأيام البسطيلة عم تنعمل كحلو كمان (هاي الوصفة لحلو البسطيلة عهادا اللينك). لكن البسطيلة التقليدية والأكتر شهرة بتقديمها في المناسبات الخاصة هي بسطيلة الحمام واللي ابتشتهر فيها مدينة فاس. حتى إنه إسم هاي البسطيلة أخد إسم المكان وبتتسمى بالبسطيلة الفاسية. أنا حبيت أحطلكم هاي الوصفة التقليدية لأنه مش الكل بعرفها ولأنها مش عادي شو طيبة. بس كمان لأني عندي حب خاص لكل الوصفات القديمة واللي تقريبا منسية وكل الوصفات التقليدية. لكن إزا بتفضلوا البسطيلة مع الدجاج، السمان إو الديك الرومي فهمة كلهم بتبعوا نفس الوصفة بس اللحم بختلف، فإعملوها باللحم اللي بتفضلوا. بس السمك وثمار البحر إلهم وصفة تانية مختلفة وهادا حسب تعليمات الستات اللي قابلتهم بالمغرب. جربوها ورح تعجبكم أنا متأكدة :) ـ

إزا ما لقيتوا ورق بسطيلة بالسوق جربوا الوصفة اللي على هادا اللينك، كتير سهلة ونتائجها عظيمة. ـ 

البسطيلة الفاسية - بسطيلة الحمام
 ٦ أشخاص
٧ أوراق بسطيلة كبار
بيض مخفوق لدهن البسطيلة قبل الخبز
سكر ناعم لتزيين البسطيلة قبل التقديم
قرفة مطحونة لتزيين البسطيلة قبل التقديم

لطبقة حشوة اللوز
٢٥٠ غم لوز محمص ومدقوق
٣ حبات مستكة مطحونين
٢ ملاعق كبار قرفة
١/٢ كوب سكر بني
١/٢ كوب زبدة سايحة

لطبقة حشوة الحمام
٤- ٥ حمام كامل كبير الحجم
٤ بصلات متوسطات مفرومين
٤ أسنان توم مدقوق
ضمة كزبرة نستعمل الورق كامل بدون فرم
كمشة زعفران حر
١/٤ كوب ماء الزهر
١ ملعقة صغيرة كزبرة مطحونة
١/٢ ملعقة صغيرة كركم
١/٢ ملعقة صغيرة زنجبيل مطحون
١/٢ ملعقة صغيرة قرفة
١/٢ ملعقة صغيرة زعفران مطحون
١/٤ ملعقة صغيرة جوزة الطيب
١/٤ ملعقة صغيرة هال مطحون
١/٤ كوب زيت زيتون
ملح وفلفل أسود حسب الرغبة

نغسل الحمام جيدا وننشفه. ـ
في وعاء كبير نخلط جميع البهارات، الملح والفلفل الأسود مع ماء الزهر و ١/٢ كمية زيت الزيتون. تخلط جيدا ثم نفرك الحمام في هاي الخلطة ونضعه جانبا. ـ

نضع باقي كمية زيت الزيتون في صحن الطاجين ونزيد عليه البصل والتوم والكزبرة والقليل من الملح والفلفل الأسود ونخلطهم معا جيدا. ثم نضيف الحمام لهاي الخلطة ونزيد عليهم ١/٢ كوب ماء. يغطى الصحن ويطبخ الحمام على نار عالية لمدة ٤٥ دقيقة - لساعة. ـ

في هاي الأثناء نحضر حشوة اللوز. نخلط جميع مكوناتها معا في وعاء ونضعها جانبا لحين الاستعمال. ـ

 عند انتهاء طبخ الحمام نفصل اللحم عن العظم ونتخلص من الجلد والعظم. لتطبيق الصحن، توضع أربع ورقات بسطيلة بشكل دائري حيث تتلاقى بالوسط وتشكل دائرة كبيرة. ثم نضع ورقة أخرى بالمنتصف وين ابتتلاقى الأربع ورقات. ثم نضع  حشوة الحمام ونفردهاوفوقها ورقة بسطيلة. ثم حشوة اللوز ونفردها وفوقها الورقة الأخيرة. وتزم الورقة الأخيرة للداخل لتغطي الجوانب، ثم ترفع أطراق الورقات الأولى لفوق لتغطي كل الجوانب واتسكر الفطيرة. ندهن الطبقة العليا بالبيض المخفوق ثم نقلب البسطيلة على صحن الخبز وندهنها بالبيض. ثم تخبز بفرن محمى (١٥٠ درجة) لمدة ٢٠ دقيقة أو حتى تحمر. ـ

عند انتهاء الخبز نضعها جانبا لخمس دقائق لتبرد قليلا ثم نرش السطح بالسكر الناعم والقرفة المطحونة متل الصورة (أعلى). تقدم دافئة. ـ

Chicken Bastila we had in Sqala Castle in Casablanca

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Tagine of Chicken in Cumin Sauce - طاجين الدجاج بصوص الكمون (وصفة المفتول الفلسطينية التقليدية بلمسة مبتكرة)

A fusion of Moroccan & Palestinian Cuisine

Don't let the simplicity of this dish fool you! It has some really deep earthy flavours and is delicious. You, your family and guests will love this, and if you are familiar with the Palestinian dish Maftool, then this will take you right there! Because what I have done is fuse the flavours of both Maftool & Chicken Tagine together to create this twist on the two classics.
Really recommend you try it, every one who did really loved it ;)

Chicken Tagine in cumin sauce
You Need
1 whole chicken (1kg) cut into 4 pieces
1 cup cooked chickpeas (200g), peeled
1 tbsp (13g) olive oil
1 large onion (200g), peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp (5g) whole cumin
½ tsp (2g) cumin powder
1 tsp (5g) ground coriander
1 tsp (5g) ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp (20g) lemon zest
Juice of ½ lemon
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups (500ml) water
2 tbsp (20g) toasted sliced almonds to garnish
1 tbsp (5g) chopped parsley to garnish

For couscous
2 ½ cups couscous
1L Chicken Broth

In a bowl, mix well together all the ground spices, ½ tbsp olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Rub the chicken pieces in this mixture to coat and set aside.

Drizzle the remaining ½ tbsp olive oil over the bottom of a tagine pot, then place the sliced onions on top. Top with the coated chicken pieces together with any remaining spice rub. Add the chickpeas and whole spices then add the water and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Right before serving, prepare the couscous. Simply cover the couscous with chicken stock and cover until rehydrated and fluffy. Mix in the toasted slithered almonds.

Place the couscous in a large serving plate, make a well at the center and pour in the chicken tagine. Garnish all with toasted almonds and chopped parsley. Serve hot.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Tagine of Fish & Caramelised Onion طاجين سمك وبصل مكرمل

Really one very unique flavour that I tasted in Morocco. We could not stop munching, dipping bread in and tasting this very interesting combination. Hope you like it :))

Essaouira Style
Tagine of Fish & Caramelised Onion 

You Need
1 kg kingfish
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 cup parsley andcoriander, chopped

½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup sultana raisins
4 onions, sliced
½ cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
3 tbs orange blossom water
A pinch of saffron
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 cup boiling water or chicken broth

In a large bowl, mix the coriander, parsley, black pepper, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, garlic, saffron and oil for a savory marinade called "shermoula” in Morocco.

Marinate the fish with the shermoula on both sides and place inside a tagine pot. Add the 1/4 cup of water or chicken broth to the pot, then cook for 15 min (tip: Place some parsley as bed for the fish for a non-stick layer).

Meanwhile, caramelize the onion with sugar, cinnamon stick, 3 tablespoons of oil and blossom water, on low heat for 25 min.

When done, place on the top of the fish, sprinkle with sultana raisins and cover for extra 10 minutes before serving.

طاجين سمك وبصل مكرمل على الطريقة الصويرية

١ كغم فيليه سمك كنعد
١ ملعقة صغيرة كُركُم
 ١ملعقة صغيرة زنجبيل
 ربع ملعقة صغيرة فلفل الأسود
١ ملعقة صغيرة قرفة
 ٢ سن الثوم المقطع ناعم
١ كوب من البقدونس والكزبرة المفرومة
 نصف كوب زيت النباتي
 كوب زبيب سلطانة (الأسود) ـ
 ٤ بصلات مقطعة هلالات
 نصف كوب سكر
 ٢ عود القرفة
 ٣ ملاعق ماء الزهر
 رشة زعفران
 ربع ملعقة صغيرة كمون
ربع كوب من ماء مغلي أو مرقة الدجاج

طريقة التحضير

في قدر كبيرة، تُمزج الكزبرة، البقدونس، الفلفل الأسود، الزنجبيل، الكركم، القرفة، الكمون، الثوم، الزعفران والزيت للحصول على خلطة تتبيل يُطلق عليها اسم "الشرمولة" في المغرب. يُتبل السمك بوساطة الشرمولة من الجانبين ويوضع في صحن الطاجين. ـ

.  يُضاف ربع كوب من الماء أو مرقة الدجاج، ويطهى لمدة ١٥ دقيقة

• في هذه الأثناء، يُكرمل البصل بتقليبه بالزيت و يضاف إليه أعواد القرفة ويقلب إلى أن يذبل. ثم يضاف إليه السكر وماء الزهر والزبيب و يطهى على درجة حرارة منخفضة لمدة 25 دقيقة مع التحريك من حين لآخر. ـ

عند الانتهاء، تُضاف خلطة البصل المكرمل فوق السمك المطبوخ، ويُغطى لمدة 10 دقائق إضافية في الفرن المطفي لكن ما زال حامي. ـ

 قبل التقديم، يرش فوقه القليل من الكزبرة والبقدونس المفرومين ويقدم ساخن مع الخبز. ـ

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Bastila (A Moroccan Dessert) - بسطيلة، وصفة حلو من المغرب

الوصفة بالعربي بآخر البوست

Really could be one of the most memorable dessert flavours I have had in Morocco! Absolutely deliciously unbelievable! I could have this dessert anytime, in fact I catch myself craving this flavour very often, and nothing else can make up for it!!
Bastila sheets are sometimes available in the big stores which makes carrying out this recipe a breeze. However, if the sheets are not available in your market, don't worry, because you can make these easily, here is the link to the recipe. Make the disks, smaller than you would for a savoury Bastila, or you can make them in rectangles if you wish to serve this dessert as a mille feuille.

For the best effect, serve this dessert with Moroccan mint tea and devour the goodness of these Moroccan flavours.

You Need
1 recipe Bastila sheets, find the recipe here
for the creme patissiere
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla essence, or seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 cup milk
1/2 cup double cream
2 tbsp orange blossom water
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cornflour
1 1/2 cups toasted slithered almonds
icing sugar to powder on top
honey for drizzling on top

Bring the milk to a boil and set aside, covered.

In the meantime, in a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and cornflour then add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition until the mixture is pale and thick. Beat in the vanilla. Slowly pour the boiled milk over the egg mixture, beating well as you pour. Pour all into a sauce pan and cook constantly stirring over medium heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to low and beat well for 2 minutes. The mixture should be smooth.

Remove the mixture from the heat and continue to beat for about a minute, then stir in the butter until melted, then stir in the cream and the orange blossom water. Set aside to cool.

In the meantime, brown the bastila sheets individually in the oven.

It is best to assemble this dessert right before serving. Once ready to assemble, place a tbsp of the creme patissiere on the serving plate and top with a sheet of Bastila. Then stack the Bastila sheets separated by a layer of creme patissiere each and a sprinkling of the toasted almonds. The top layer will be covered with the creme patissiere, toasted almonds and sprinkled with icing sugar, then drizzled lightly with honey. Serve cold.

This is how I felt when I first tried this dessert!
هادا كان شعوري لما جربت هادا الحلو أول مرة :) ـ

يمكن واحد من أطيب الحلو اللي دقته بالمغرب. البسطيلة مع الكريما واللوز! عنجد طيبة ودايما بلاقي حالي بتوحم هادا الطعم. بما إنه أوراق البسطيلة موجودة بكتير من السوبرماركتس الكبيرة هادا بسهل عمل هادا الحلو. بس إزا المنطقة اللي انتوا فيها ما بتلاقوا اوراق البسطيلة مش مشكله لأنه هادا اللينك فيه طريقة سهلة لعملهم. جربوا هادا الحلو و رح اتحبوا كتير. وكمان قدموه مع الشاي المغربي (طريقة عمل الشاي المغربي على هادا اللينك)  لأحلى قعدة مع النكهات المغربية الطيبة :) ـ

وصفة ورق البسطيلة على هادا اللينك، أو أوراق بسطيلة جاهزة مقطعة دوائر أو مستطيلات حسب الرغبة
٣ صفار بيض
١ ملعقة صغيرة فانيلا
١ كوب حليب
١/٢ كوب قيمر كامل الدسم
٢ ملعقة كبيرة سكر ناعم
١ ملعقة كبيرة ونصف نشا
١ ملعقة كبيرة زبدة
٢ ملعقة كبيرة ماء الزهر
لوز شرحات محمص
سكر بودرة

يغلى الحليب ويوضع جانبا مغطى إلى حين الاستعمال. ـ

في وعاء متوسط نخلط السكر الناعم، والنشا وبعدها نضيف عليهم صفار البيض بالتدريج ونخلط جيدا بعد كل مرة حتى يتكون عندنا مزيج فاتح اللون وسميك. نضيف الفانيلا ونخلط جيدا. ـ

نضيف الحليب المغلي على مزيج البيض بالتدريج مع التحريك المستمر أثناء الاضافة. ثم نضع المزيج بوعاء على النار المتوسطة ونحركه باستمرار حتى يغلي. بعد الغليان نوطي النار على الآخر ونحرك المزيج لدقيقتين أو إلى أن يجمد ويصبح متل الكسترد وبدون أي تكتلات. ـ

  نبعده عن النار ونستمر بتحريكه لدقيقة اضافية وبعدها نضيف الزبدة ونحرك جيدا ليمتزج الخليط، ثم نضيف ماء الزهر ونحرك. ثم نضعه جانبا ليبرد. ـ

وفي هذه الأثنا نحمر أوراق البسطيلة بالفرن ثم نضعها جانبا. ـ 

عند التقديم، نضع ورقة البسطيلة وفوقها القليل من الكريما ورشه لوز محمص ثم ورقة أخرى ثم كريما و لوز وهكذا. وآخر طبقة نضع الكريما ثم اللوز ثم نرش عليهم القليل من السكر البودرة و القليل من العسل. يقدم بارد.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Warqat Al Bastila - Making Pastilla Sheets طريقة عمل ورقة البسطيلا المغربية

الوصفة بالعربي بآخر البوست
Warqa - Bastila Sheets

In the central market of Casablanca, I found a Bastila sheets maker and was mesmerised by the whole process. This laborious and time consuming process of skillfully making individual paper-thin sheets that are then used in the making of Morocco's most prestigious dish Bastila (as pronounced by the locals, otherwise known as Pastilla or Pastille) is a craft that is passed through the generations taught by parents and carried on by the new generation. For this is one ingredient that has to continue as it is one heavily used in Moroccan cuisine - as besides their use in the making of Bastila, these sheets are also used in the making of Moroccan Briwat (stuffed pastry parcels) and other rolls enclosing a variety of fillings, as well as in the making of some desserts including the sweet Bastila with pastry cream...etc. For such a heavily used ingredient, I could not help but ask "Do people make these themselves?"

I learnt that like all things time consuming and demanding, now a days most people buy ready made Bastila sheets, but some still insist to make these at home and teach this recipe to their children (the future Moroccan cooks). I have also learnt that back in the day, Bastila was left to special occasions due to its demanding nature, and therefore was always tied with special occasions, extravagance and going all out; thus the connotation of prestigious.

The tapping of a sticky dough over a heated flat metal, done very swiftly to cover the whole surface,
ultimately creates paper-thin sheets of dough that are then used in the making of Traditional
Moroccan concoctions such as Bastila and Briwat

Bastila sheets are essentially made from a sticky dough that is transformed into thin sheets by continuously being tapped over a heated flat metal top (traditionally placed over burning coal). Each time the dough is tapped over the metal a small portion sticks to the surface, so the tapping of the dough is done very fast and each tap is closely adjacent to the next in order to end up with one uniform sheet as you can see in the picture above. The sheets are prepared individually and are then kept wrapped in order not to dry and break.

While traditionally these sheets are made over burning coal, another way that promises very tender results is making the sheets over boiling water. The heat of the steam heats up the metal sheet, over which the sheets are to be made, to an ideal temperature that produces more tender sheets that are less flaky than those prepared over coals. The second method had therefore become the most preferred method for making Bastila sheets and the one that you are most likely to find being used in the markets of Morocco.

But since Warqa is not always readily available in markets outside of Morocco, and because Bastila is so delicious, I was curious to find a way to make these sheets should the need ever arise. I guess you too don't want to miss out on this treat - be it the dessert option (my fave) or the savoury/sweet option - So I had done some research and tried a few recipes and found Paula Wolfert's Recipe for Warqa to be really the simplest and easiest way to make these at home. So I am now using her recipe in making these sheets. Her method includes some cheats as to what I have seen originally made in Morocco, however, and I must say they turn out so good that you would think I was a Bastila Sheet expert!

Paula Wolfert's Warqa Recipe
Because this is not my recipe, I am explaining the method without giving precise measurements. You can find the full recipe with exact measurements in her amazing book "The Food Of Morocco", which I highly recommend and believe to be the best that's ever been written about Moroccan Cuisine.

Tapping the sticky dough over the metal sheet
as done in the traditional recipe
Paula Wolfert's method is simple. Basically starts with a basic bread dough the flour, salt and water. However, she mixes 2 types of flour (3/4 parts extra strong white bread flour, needed for its high gluten content and 1/4 part fine semolina) which she seasons with salt and pulses in a processor to aerate and mix. While the mixer is still running, she then adds acidulated water about a cup and a half and once a smooth ball of dough forms she adds about 1tbsp oil in a thin, steady stream while continuing to process the dough. Then follows with 3/4 cup more water and continues to process until she achieves a smooth batter. This batter is poured into a container and refrigerated overnight.

The next day the batter is ready to use. Snugly fit in a large non-stick frying pan over a pot of boiling water. Grease the pan lightly and wipe any excess with a kitchen towel.

Using a thick pastry brush, stir the batter in the container and lift the brush filled with batter and quickly brush evenly over the whole surface of the hot pan in a circular motion, making sure the layer is very thin. Cook for 2 minutes or until it turns completely white and curls around the edges while still supple. The leaf is cooked on only one side, and is then removed to a kitchen towel, with shiny side up and immediately brushed with cooking oil. Cover with another sheet of kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil and leave the sheet over the Bastila Sheet.

Repeat this process until all sheets are done. Once done, place the sheets, separated by the kitchen paper inside a well sealed plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Stay tuned for some Savoury and dessert Bastila Recipes coming up!

Bastila Makers are very skillful and comfortable in the process of making these sheets
عمل أوراق البسطيلة هي حرفة متناقلة عبر الأجيال في المغرب

في السوق المركزي بالدار البيضاء لقيت محل بعمل ورقة البسطيلة المعروفة بالمغرب والمستعملة بكتير وصفات متل عمل البسطيلة اللي الكل بحبها واللي بتكون محشية بأنواع مختلفة من الحشوات متل الحمام (الوصفة التقليدية) أو الدجاج أو السمك وحتى الخضرة. وورقة البسطيلة برضوا يستخدم بعمل البريوات والرولز المغربية بمختلف حشواتها. وأنا عم بتفرج عليهم بعملوها لقيت حالي بتسائل كيف كانوا الستات يعملوا هيك وصفة بدها مهارة وصبر لأنه هادا الورق بنعمل وحدة وحدة فبياخد وقت وكان لأنه رقيق كتير بده الواحد يكون عنده شوية حرفة ليتقنه. طبعا هادي الأيام أغلب هيك وصفات بنلاقيها جاهزة في السوق والأغلب ما بتغلبوا يحضروها. بس لأنه ورق البسطيلة مش دايما متواجد في الأسواق برة المغرب حبيت أتعلم كيف بنعمل. جربت كتير وصفات وجد منهم صعب كتير بس لقيت وصفة الكاتبة المشهورة بولا وولفرت في كتابها المعروف "أكلات المغرب" واللي هو من أجمل ما كتب عن المطبخ المغربي (عنجد بستحق تشتروا واتجربوا الوصفات اللي فيه). وصفتها كتير سهلة ومع إنه فيها شوية غش (مش محضرة على الطريقة التقليدية) بس بتزبط كتير وعنجد طيبة. بما إنه الكتاب بالإنجليزي حبيت اترجملكم الوصفة لتجربوها خصوصا للي بيفضلوا الوصفات بالعربي. جربوها رح تعجبكم و كمان لتقدروا تعملوا وصفات البسطيلة اللي رح أحطلكم اياهم هاليومين :) ـ

بس بحب قبل ما نعمل الوصفة إني اخبركم شوي عن الوصفة التقليدية. بالعادة خلطة العجنة ابتنعمل باليد مش بالخلاط و أصلا ابتنطبخ على صاجة فوق الجمر. حديثا صارت الورقات تنعمل على البخار، و بالمغرب خبروني إنه الورقة المعمولة بالبخار أطرى من الأصلية و مش هشة كتير متل الأصلية اللي ابتتكسر بسهولة أكبر. فهاي الطريقة أسهل من كل النواحي... وبرضه لأنه البسطيلة من الأكلات اللي بتاخد وقت لعملها صارت من الأكلات اللي بتنعمل للمناسبات الخاصة والاحتفالات لحين صارت تنباع بالسوق، ولهالسبب هاي الأكلة دائما ارتبطت بالفخامة وأفضل ما يقدم في المطبخ المغربي لإكرام الضيف. ـ

طريقة بولا وولفرت لعمل أوراق البسطيلة
مترجمة من كتابها "أكلات من المغرب" صفحة ١٣٠
٢٢٥ غم طحين زيرو
٣ ملاعق كبار سميد ناعم جدا
١ ملعقة صغيرة ملح
١ ملعقة كبيرة عصير ليمون
١ ملعقة كبيرة زيت زيتون
زيت طبخ غير منكّه لدهن الأوراق الجاهزة بعد الطبخ

قبل يوم من عمل الأوراق نحضر خلطة العجنة. في الخلاط الكهربائي نخلط الطحين، السمسي والملح مع بعض لتهويتهم وخلطهم. نضيف كوب ونصف ماء مع عصير الليمون ونخلط العجنة جيدا إلى أن تشكل كرة من العجين. والخلاط شغال نزيد الزيت شوي شوي (بخط واحد مستمر إلى نفاذه) وبعدها نضيف ٣/٤ كوب ماء ونتركه يخلط إلى أن يتكون مزيج سائل كثيف وبدون أي تكتلات. نضع هادا المزيج في وعاء مغلق في الثلاجة لتاني يوم. ـ

اليوم الثاني، نغلي ماء بقدر على النار ونضع فوقة مقلاة مانعة للالتصاق حتى تسخن بحرارة بخار الماء. بندهن المقلاة بالزيت عالخفيف ونمسح الزيت الزائد بورق المطبخ. نستخدم فرشاة خبز سميكة ونغطها بمزيج البسطيلة ثم ندهم طبقة رقيقة جدا بشكل دائري على المقلاة الحامية وندعها تطبخ حتى تصبح بيضاء تماما وتبدأ باللف للداخل عند الأطراف. نزيل الورقة بحذر عن المقلة وندهنها عالخفيف بالزيت، ثم نضع عليها ورق المطبخ وندعها جانبا. ـ

نكرر هذه العملية إلى أن تنتهي الكمية. عندها ورق البسطيلة جاهز للاستعمال في تحضير وصفات البسطيلة أو البريوات... الخ. للتخزين يوضع ورق البسطيلة مفصول بورق المطبخ داخل كيس محكم الإغلاق في الثلاجة لمدة ٣ أيام. ـ

ورق البسطيلة رقيق جدا

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Traditional Upbringing & The Will To Do

The Traditional Tagine Pots

She was born to a very traditional backdrop, in a classic city, to a conventional family, for the common lifestyle... She ate her mother's traditional cuisine and learnt its ways. She went to school and there she learnt the doctrines of classic life. She went to the market and saw these traditions in action... she was surrounded by all things traditional... and perhaps she was meant to lead an ordinary and immemorial life.... The story of most women! But not She! No, she loved the classics, but she had character too. She wanted the traditions to live on, however, understood how the winds of change that are sweeping this earth are capable of taking all this familiarity away. She, herself, was doubtful if pure classic was exciting enough yet still related. She struggled for a while until one day.... she saw the traditional as a canvas on which she'd stroke the brush of a more exciting life. One through which she painted her vision of the perfect classics, giving them a face lift, that will enable these traditions to live on even in a world where all things old are quickly vanishing, replaced by the glamour of all things new. She had to have her say, and she did it her way! Perhaps unwittingly, or the contrary, through the very ordinary she found a way to the extraordinary and made sure to be heard and definitely unforgotten!!

Meet Zakia, the executive Chef of Dar Rhizlane Hotel - Marrakech. The woman known for revamping traditional Moroccan cuisine. Through her finesse and eye for presentation, her deep understanding of the cuisine and her courage to have her say with ingredients, she managed to become one of Morocco's most celebrated chefs, whose nouvelle Moroccan cuisine is one of Morocco's must experiences. Most impressively, Chef Zakia is a self-taught chef; she literally did it her way, a lesson or two to be inspired by.

Zakia Ait Boulahcen
Exceutive Chef, Moroccan Nouvelle Cuisine

Zakia is in many ways the classic story that involves cooking. She comes from a home of brilliant cooks. Her mother and grandmother are famous for their amazing food, however they never kept their cooking to just home. In fact, the two are professional cooks known as "the great cooks of the Mamounia-a queen's Palace". They specialise in traditional Moroccan cuisine and thus Zakia grew up savouring a superior version of this food. She says that growing up she always knew she was eating outstanding food, her country's food at its best. She, like many girls do, loved cooking with her mother in the kitchen. In fact, there were many days that she herself would cook the family's whole dinner as she recalled. Once older she decided to follow the footsteps of her mother and become a professional cook herself. However, Zakia always thought that the traditional ways could be bettered. For instance, she thought that traditional food was too heavy on the fats, and in today's life we could do with less fats. She also mentioned that when it came to presentation, she felt bored with the same old communal look of food, and preferred the more modern and minimal style. These opinions did not win her any favours with her mother, who thought that Zakia would not make it as a professional cook. Her mother - as she mentioned - was a tad less than happy that Zakia had chosen to become a cook by profession and therefore did not exactly support her to secure a job in the kitchen!

Zakia, had to be a stubborn and strong willed woman to possess the perseverance required to enter a professional world in which she was not formally trained nor had any real experience in. Everyone thought it was a phase and that she was not going to make it in that field. Mindless to those very encouraging opinions, she started off as junior as any kitchen staff can be and it was not long until she was noticed in that kitchen. Her Chef saw potential in her and in a very short while she became the executive chef of her vision to the perfected classics. With her creative twists coupled with her inventive style, her restaurant was offering its diners a whole new take on Moroccan cuisine.
While she can go the route of fusions at times, she insists to show that her cuisine is mostly purely Moroccan, however, seen with fresh eyes. All this made her food the talk of gourmet recommendations of things one must eat when in Marrakech.

Zakia is a woman whose joy and pride show in every dish
one with an impeccable taste and an eye not bored but inspired

A chat with Zakia is very inspiring, her smile is contagious and her pride in her accomplishments is very well felt. It is not everyone's choice to work hard, challenge and have a say even when this say is not very well received at first. All that is definitely not the easy route, however, meeting this woman and seeing the life in which she lives, one can't help but ponder! Perhaps her story is not the classic story, but she well wrote its lines and made sure it was well grounded in both her surroundings and individual identity. It is her story and she told it her way. There is no mistaking how she feels about it; you can taste it in her food, you can see it in her face and you can hear it in what's been said about her. Goes to tell that when we have the "will to do" we can and we will.

#adventuring #exploring #discovering #onthepathoffood


Hotel Dar Rhizlane is an interesting surprise in Marrakech. Having been trotting on the traditional path of the city for a while, visiting this more modern retreat was interesting to say the least. The hotel is very Andalusian in style, a very Arab-moorish palace feel with a few more modern touches. This boutique hotel is beautiful, green and feels so airy and comforting, which makes it a good place to stay when in Marrakech. It is  located near to the Djema El Fna square and to the medina, making it easily accessible and close by most of what you would want to explore. The Dar Rhizlane cuisine is a must in Marrakech, and when there make sure to speak with Chef Zakia and see for yourselves what an inspiration she is.
For more info visit the hotel's website here.

Dar Rhizlane Hotel more pictures on this link

Friday, 2 May 2014

Marrakech Tangia - الطنجية المراكشية

الوصفة بالعربي بآخر البوست
The Traditional Tangia Clay pot

I had first been introduced to Tangia in a Moroccan restaurant, a few years ago, and was fascinated by the fact that it is brought to the table in an ancient looking clay jar, that is elongated and looks worn out and almost burnt. The mouth of the jar (top) sealed with browned baking paper tied firmly with a string, which was untied at the table then the paper removed. As the waiter poured the Tangia into the plate, we were hit with a strong cumin aroma mixed with saffron... immediately you feel like you are in the presence of Morocco. I asked what it was and the waiter said: "This is traditional Moroccan food that is the specialty of Marrakech". He said "this is special food in Morocco and not everyone can make it"... we ate and it was heavenly. The goats' meat, the cumin sauce, the saffron.... Divine!

I was very intrigued by this dish and wanted to learn more... then I read Paula Wolfert's account on Tangia, and learning that it was cooked by men and that she had to go through so much trouble locating people who could teach her how to make this dish... I was even more intrigued, so I decided once in Morocco to follow her trail in finding the real Tangia makers and learn it there!

So when I finally made it to Marrakech I could not believe that I was actually finally meeting the man known for his Tangia. The one who has the most popular tangia restaurant in Marrakech's market. The very one who was the King's cook... I was finally in the presence of the dish I read so much about and had enormous curiosity for. Watch the episode on this link.

I devoured Haji Mustafa's Tangia and my curiosity about this dish... this is some of my conversation with him and how he prepares the Traditional Tangia of Marrakech!

(please note that this video was shot using my phone, therefore bear with me the quality of the sound)


TANGIA of Marrakech
serves 6
This dish is traditionally prepared a day ahead, placed in the jar and sealed. It is then taken to the community bath (Moroccan bath where people go to get scrubbed, washed and massaged). The pots are placed in the burning coal - covering only 1/3 of the jar - and are left there to cook overnight. The result is succulent meat that literally falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. Along with a brownish cumin sauce that is out of this world. Just dunk in the bread and taste the heavenly flavours of Marrakech.

PS Although the dish is from Marrakech the pots are actually made in Ribat, and in Marrakech everyone tells you that the best Tangia pots are bought in Ribat. 

You Need
1.5 Kg Goats' meat on the bone
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 preserved lemons (Moroccan pickled lemons) find recipe here
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp Ras il Hanut (Moroccan spice mix)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
A generous pinch of Saffron threads
1 cup water
1 tbsp rosewater (optional)
2 tbsp Smen (local Moroccan clarified butter), or unsalted butter or olive oil

An elongated clay pot as in picture is the best way to cook Tangia otherwise it can also be cooked in a Tagine pot or any other clay pot or a slow cooker.

Preheat the oven to the lowest settings (about 200 F / 100 C)

In a small bowl, mix the water and rosewater then soak the saffron threads in the mixture. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile crush the garlic and cumin seeds together and place in a separate bowl along with the remaining spices, smen or oil and mix well. Rub the meat pieces with this mixture and pour all into the tangia pot. Pour the saffron water and shake the pot slightly. Cover the top with wet baking paper and tie firmly with kitchen string. Bake for 10 hours in the preheated oven or 1/3 immersed into burning coal.

Once done, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Pour into a serving dish and serve with thick bread.

Haji Mustafa's Tangia Restaurant - Marrakech
مطعم الحاج مصطفى المختص بالطنجية في مراكش

الطنجية المراكشية
٦ أشخاص
الطنجية التقليدية عادة بتتحضر قبل بيوم وتوضع في جرة الفخار المخصصة لعمل الطنجية. ثم يحكم إغلاقها بورق الخبز المبلل واللي يربط بخيط المطبخ لغلقها بإحكام. بعدها تؤخذ الطنجية للحمام (الحمام المغربي العام) حيث يدفن ثلثها في الرماد وتترك هناك لتطبخ طوال الليل أو ما لا يقل عن العشر ساعات. والنتيجة بتستاهل هالصبر لأنه اللحم بصير طري كتير عم بوقع عن العظم وبدوب بالتم! عنجد طيبة و فيها ريحة المغرب المميزة إللي بختلط فيها الكمون والزعفران والزنجبيل... يعني بكفي تعملوها لتاخدكم هناك! قدموها مع خبز ودوقوا طعم مراكش اللي بفتح النفس :)  ـ

مع إنه الطنجية من إختصاص مدينة مراكش لكن هناك نصحوني أشتري الجرة من الرباط وقالولي إنه أحسن جرات طنجية وحتى إللي بنشوفها بمراكش هي من صنع الرباط. أحسن نتيجة لعمل الطنجية هي باستخدام الجرة الخاصة فيها، ولكنها مش دايما متوفرة فممكن استخدام أي فخارة طبخ لعملها فيها أو ممكن عملها بقدر الطاجين التقليدي ـ

١،٥ كغم قطع لحم عنز على العظم
٤ أسنان ثوم
٢ ليمون مرقد أو ليمون مصير (مخلل الليمون المغربي) ـ الوصفة على هادا اللينك
١ ملعقة كبيرة كمون حب
١ ملعقة صغيرة كمون مطحون
١/٤ ملعقة صغيرة زنجبيل مطحون
١/٢ ملعقة صغيرة كركم
١/٢ ملعقة صغيرة كزبرة مطحونة
١/٢ ملعقة صغيرة راس الحانوت (خلطة بهار مغربية) ـ
١/٤ ملعقة صغيرة فلفل أسود مطحون
كمشة زعفران
١ كوب ماء
١ ملعقة كبيرة ماء الورد (إختياري للنكهة) ـ
٢ ملعقة كبيرة سمن أو زبدة أو زيت زيتون

يحمى الفرن على أوطى درجة. (١٠٠م أو ٢٠٠ف) ـ

في وعاء صغير نخلط ماء الورد والماء والزعفران ونتركهم على طرف لخمس دقائق، ـ

ندق الثوم مع حب الكمون ثم نضعهم في وعاء منفصل ونخلطهم مع باقي البهارات والزيت. نغلف قطع اللحم بهذه الخلطة ونضعهم مع البهارات في الجرة. نضيف عليهم خلطة الماء والزعفران ونحرك الجرة قليلا حتى يمتزج الجميع. ثم نغطي الجرة بورق الخبز المبلول ونربطه بالخيط بإحكام. توضع بالفرن المحمى وتترك فيه لمدة١٠ساعات . ـ

بعد انتهاء الطبخ تؤخذ الجرة خارج الفرن وتوضع جانبا لترتاح لمدة ١٠ دقائق، ثم تفتح وتسكب في صحن التقديم وتقدم مع الخبز الخميل. ـ

Of course where there is Tangia, there is served the grilled heads of goats and sheep.
This photo is taken at Haji Mustafa's Tangia Restaurant in Marrakech.
أكيد وين ابتنعمل الطنجية لازم يكون في روس مشوية! هادا التقديم على الطريقة التقليدية
هاي الصورة من مطعم الحاج مصطفى المختص بالطنجية في مراكش