Now that my projects are over, I am back in the kitchen. Because the days are getting shorter and colder as we head into winter, I made this wonderful, warming stew inspired by the tastes and colours of Morocco.
In my imagination, Morocco is always warm and sunny, and the air is filled with the alluring scent of exotic spices.
The ingredients list for this recipe is long, but the recipe is very simple. Be sure to prepare everything before you start, and the cooking will be stress free.
The secret to a richly flavoured sauce is to toast the spices in a dry pan and then stew them with the tomatoes before adding the rest of the ingredients. Then, add a small amount of water — just enough to get the pot boiling. The vegetables will release a lot of their own moisture, adding flavour to the stew. I put in lots of veggies — peppers, carrots, potato, sweet potato, eggplant, chickpeas, cilantro, and dried mango in addition to the spices, onion, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes. The cooked eggplant breaks down, making a beautiful thick sauce. I add some dry mint at the end of the recipe.*
*Here is a tip about using dried herbs: buy fresh herbs and dry them at home rather than buying them in a bottle or package. The flavours and aroma will stay fresher for a few months. Dry them in a dehydrator or spread out on a baking tray and place in your oven, pre-heated to a low temperature (60C / 140F - 72C / 160F), with the oven door cracked open, for a couple of hours until dry (check every 15-20 minutes.)
Moroccan stews are traditionally served over couscous. To make my meal gluten-free, I chose to serve my stew over millet (another African staple) which I prepared with lemon juice as in my recipe for Millet Tabouleh, but rice or quinoa would be great, too. If you are not worried about gluten, then couscous is a fine option. Cook it according to the package directions. Whatever you decide to serve with this stew, get your grain cooking before you start the recipe, and keep it warm until the stew is ready.
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 cup baby carrots, sliced diagonally
1 398 ml / 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 398 ml / 14 ounce can filled with water
2 cups cooked or one can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small green pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small red pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small potato (I used russet), chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 small eggplant, chopped
1 cup frozen green beans
1/2 cup dried fruit such as raisins, apricots, prunes, mango, chopped into bite sized pieces
minced cilantro, to taste
1 Tablespoon dried mint
It may seem like there isn't enough water, but the vegetables will release a lot of moisture and the eggplant will cook down into a lovely thick sauce.
Beans and Rice