October 3, 2012
Posted: 1149 GMT
This month on 'Inside the Middle East', host Leone Lakhani traveled to Morocco's culinary capital, Fes, for a lesson in how to cook homemade, authentic Moroccan food.
In Fes, Lakhani met Lahcen Beqqi, who guides Moroccan and international tourists around his souq and kitchen, sharing his secrets to shopping, chopping, and eating like a local. At just 32-years-old, Beqqi is already known as one of the top chefs in Morocco.
But what makes Moroccan cuisine so special?
It has to do with the nation's geographical and historical position as a crossroads for a number of different cultures and and traditions, according to Beqqi.
"Moroccan cuisine, it's a multicultural cuisine. It brings together a lot of cultures, a lot of influences, from Berbers, Arabs, Jewish, French, and Mediterranean," Beqqi told CNN. "It's not only food... it's history when you put on the table and see all of these influences. It's very interesting."
And very tasty.
On the latest 'Inside the Middle East', Beqqi gave Lakhani step-by-step instructions to cook lamb tajine. The following recipe is for a similar meal, reprinted with permission from Beqqi's "Lahcen’s Moroccan Recipes: A Collection of Easy and Light Variations on Some of the Finest Traditional Moroccan Recipes."
Lamb, Prune, and Date Tagine
This dish is a traditional Moroccan tagine. Because it is sweet and it includes dates, it is often served when a family has company over.
For 3 people
• 1⁄2 kilo of a shoulder of lamb, or beef, or one small chicken • 250 grams of dried prunes (around 30 prunes) • 6 dates (pitted) • one big red onion, sliced
• 200 grams of roasted almonds • 1 cinnamon stick • ginger • mrozia spice (ras l’hanoot) – if available • 1 pinch of saffron (pistils)
• salt (to taste) • pepper (to taste)
Wash the prunes and put them in one liter of water. Let them sit. Put olive oil and lamb into a big pot, or tagine. Cook on a high flame, turning the lamb on all sides. Add ginger, cinnamon, onion, ras l’hanoot and saffron. Turn down the flame to medium. Mix for one minute. Take the prunes out of the water and put them aside. Keep the water! Pour it into the pot with the lamb. Let the meat cook for 1 1⁄2 hours (or however long it takes to cook) on a low flame. Add salt and
8pepper. Add the prunes and dates in the last 15 minutes. Add the almonds when you serve the dish.
You can reach Beqqi through his website for more recipes or additional information.
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