June 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Posted in Northern, Middle & Eastern Africa | Leave a comment

Morocco is one of the most exotic countries in Africa, holding a place of both old world mystery as well as a  relatively modern and contemporary one.     Morocco also holds a place quite close to France, having been casually occupied by France in the 19th century during The Scramble For Africa  (where European imperialist  nations spent much of that era carving up Africa).   In fact, some people blame the tussle over Morocco between France and Germany to be one of the sparks that started the First World War.   (I still blame Franz Ferdinand’s driver failing to ask for directions…) Oddly enough, despite Morocco’s closeness to the oil rich lands of the Middle East, 75% of their energy comes from coal.  Morocco is also the home of Casablanca, which is actually not the capital (Rabat).

The Plan

Morocco is one of the great food melting pots on the planet, mixing European, African and Middle Eastern flavours.   The flavours are rich and blend exotic spices with fruit and rich meats.   Thus, we’re going for Moroccan Beef Stew borrowed from Mike’s Table.


  • 1 kg chuck steak
  • Ras el Hanout – a dry spice mixture, some example flavours to include in no particular amount:
    • smoked + Hungarian/sweet paprika
    • pepper
    • salt
    • cayenne
    • cinnamon
    • coriander
    • nutmeg
    • cumin
    • cloves
    • allspice
    • turmeric
  • 1 cup of fresh coriander stalks
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1 sweet potato, diced into large chunks
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp of fresh ginger
  • 1 440ml can whole tomatoes and juices
  • 1.33 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • fennel seeds
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1 440ml can chickpeas
  • 16 dates, diced
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • pinch of saffron strands
  • ~1/4 cup parsley
  • ~1/4 cup coriander leaves
  1. The first thing is to make a good Ras el Hanout. This literally means “top of the shop” and is a mixture of common spices. I didn’t write down the precise measurements but used only a little cinnamon and cumin and lots of the rest.
  2. Dice the meat into largish chunks. Roll the meat into the spices until liberally covered.
  3. Chop the garlic and coriander stalks roughly, mix in the lemon juice and blend into a paste. Pour over the meat.
  4. Cover the meat and let sit for at least an hour, possibly 8 or even longer
  5. Heat a pan and brown the meat chunk in batches, shaking off excess spice mixture.. Crowding the pan will steam the meat, so don’t do that! While this is cooking, crank the oven to 160C Remove all the meat, but the pan should be really messy with all the spices and juices that have come off the meat.
  6. In this gloriously messy pan, add some more oil and fry off the onions and add the garlic, ginger, carrot and sweet potato. Saute for 5 minutes or until the sweet potato really starts to soften.Add the stock & red wine, deglazing the pan. Pour in the tomatoes and remaining dry spices.
  7. Return the meat to the pot, and simmer for 5 minutes. If there’s any leftover marinate, chuck it in to the pot. The liquid should only barely cover the meat.
  8. Put the pot (or transfer to a casserole dish – you’ll need a big one) into the oven and cook for 1 ½ hours. The pot needs to be covered to not lose any liquidRemove from the oven and add all remaining ingredients except the coriander leaves. Return to the oven for 30 minutes, with the lid slightly ajar.
  9. Remove from oven, and stir in the diced coriander leaves.

Serve over rice.

The Event

The smells this makes while cooking are suburb. For a large list of ingredients, it’s actually pretty straightforward to cook.

The Outcome

Chris: “This is nice, do this one again”

Liam: “more!”

Jacq: “Awesome! I love Mrrocco”

This felt a bit of a “throw-everything-you-have-at-it” dish, but it was surprisingly good while retaining all the complex flavours. We do a lot of hearty


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