Yes, I’m beginning to venture out of my comfort zone and delve deeper and deeper into the unknown. I feel like a little child constantly excited and exhilarated by the seemingly simple aspects of everyday life. For example, spices. We use different spices for baking and cooking all the time and yet, it never ceases to fascinate me. Add a little bit of, let’s see..cinnamon for example, and you have a very unique and distinguished kind of flavor. I especially love how just one spice can embody a culture so completely different from another. Believe me, I’m no where near being an adept baker, cook, anthropologist – whatever, but as I’ve mentioned time and time again, I’m learning more and more each and every passing day.
What I learned on this day making this dish was how humbling cooking can be. To think that I may know a lot about baking or cooking or about food in general is a horrible and ridiculous assumption because what I know comes solely from empirical research and observation with maybe a tiny crazy bit of help from food blogs and shows that are always on the visible computer or television screens within my home. Even with this Moroccan-themed dinner, I’ve only feebly scratched the concentrated surface of what there is to discover about Moroccan food and culture.
Moroccan food is a diverse cuisine with so many outer influences throughout history. Spices are extensively used, making the food distinguished and flavorful. Making this meal sent an aroma throughout the house that was sultry and inviting and especially ethnic. Even as the person cooking the meal, I couldn’t help but to close my eyes on multiple occasions only to breathe in the scent of the spices that assuaged my restlessness. It seduced me into desiring a cultural immersion or perhaps more specifically, it really made me want to be wrapped entirely in silk . Can you blame me? I don’t doubt you’ll be tempted to do the same.
Moroccan Chicken with Olives
Adapted from Moroccan Recipes
3-4 pounds Chicken (I used skinless thighs)
2 1/2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Onion, sliced
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/4 tspn Ginger
2 tspn Cumin
1 tspn Paprika
1 Onion, finely chopped
1/2 Pound Green Olives, pitted and drained
1 Lemon’s Juice
Heat the oil in large sauce pan. Add 3/4 cup water gradually. Add onion slices and sprinkle with spices. Lay chicken on top. Cook over low heat, covered for one hour. Add the finely chopped onion. Cook for another half hour. Place pitted olives in a separate pan of cold water and bring to boil for 1 minute. Drain water. Add olives to pan with other ingredients. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Just before serving squeeze on lemon juice
Caramelized Cumin-Roasted Carrots
Adapted from Bon Appétit (Feb 2010)
Vegetable oil or nonstick vegetable oil spray
8-10 medium to large carrots, peeled and cut into 1.2-inch-thick pieces
2 tblspns extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tspns cumin, grounded or seeds
2 tspns kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Combine carrots and all remaining ingredients in large bowl; toss to coat. Spread in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Roast carrots until tender and lightly caramelized, turning carrots over once, 35 to 40 minutes.