I’ve eaten North African food prior to a trip to Morocco, but looking back at some photos I remember the smell of the spice markets and the distinctive taste of the Moroccan chicken and couscous our tour guide has arranged. It was delightful! More delightful than the man who followed me offering me “genuine” RayBans, who dropped the price all the way down to €2 by the time we were heading home. I gave him €1 to leave me alone, he graciously accepted and was off to badger some other tourists. If only I’d done that from the first time he’d offered them!
Typically in North African food you’ll find a similar range of spices and herbs, as well as signature ingredients like apricots and dates. I’ve found that you can make any dish taste similar to this region by using: cumin, ginger, saffron, nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika and turmeric. Not all at the same time, but mixing some from that list. Also, using apricots, dates or prunes will naturally sweeten any dish. Staple fresh herbs like mint and coriander will also be useful. Moroccans particularly love a huge handful of freshly torn mint for their tea!
Affectionately known as whiskey berbere or Moroccan whiskey, it’s always available and gives a pretty decent kick to your day. Of course, it’s non-alcoholic but full of sugar!
Tunisian carrot (only) salad
Everyone knows what couscous is, which is probably the most famous export from the region, food status wise. When I came across a recipe for Tunisian carrot salad and wanted to recreate it and share. This is a perfect wheat free, grain free and dairy free side dish to accompany any North African dish, well any dish to be honest. As long as you like carrots that is! The way to make it is pretty simple, as you’ll see below.
- Tunisian carrot salad
- 3 large or 4 medium carrots
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 3 tsp of oil
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp of ground coriander (or 5g of fresh, finely chopped)
- 15 fresh mint leaves
- 35g raisins or sultanas
- 30g of pistachios
- Tear the mint leaves, don't chop them so they don't lose any flavour. Place in a bowl. Add all of the ingredients apart from the carrots and pistachios.
- Toast the pistachios in a dry pan on a high heat. When done, set aside.
- Diagonally slice the carrots, make sure they are fine.
- Oil your pan (preferably a griddle pan) and cook the carrot slices until tender with some colour.
- Add to the bowl and toss. Serve with a sprinkle of roasted pistachios.