I was introduced to Moroccan cuisine while taking a Mediterranean cooking class. The instructor was a Marshall University professor who had been a Fulbright Lecturer at Mohamed Ben Abdullah University in Fez, Morocco.
I learned that Moroccan food is diverse and offers an array of colors, textures, and flavors. The blend of aromatic spices and exotic ingredients can transform ordinary dishes into something amazing.
Moroccan cuisine is very healthy. Dishes are comprised of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish and wholesome grains.
Moroccan food has been influenced by Arab, Jewish and Berber cultures. Arabs introduced lamb and dates. Jewish influence can be seen in the use of pickled lemons and olives.
The Berber influence is evident in the many recipes for grilled or slow-cooked foods and the eating with one’s hands rather than using utensils.
Many Moroccan foods are slow cooked in a tagine, a clay cooking pot with a conical top.
Eating with one’s hands is awkward for those who are not accustomed to this tradition. There are rules of etiquette. Before eating, one should cleanse his or her hands with orange- or rose-scented water. Food is picked up with the right hand only, using the thumb and first two fingers.
The left hand is used for picking up bread or passing dishes. Bread is used to sop up any sauce or juices left on the plate.
This recipe is Moroccan inspired. It has been adapted to use familiar ingredients. I chose to use a slow cooker, since I do not have a tagine. The end result is very similar to a recipe that I experienced in my cooking class.
The spice flavor is subtle. The raisins can be omitted, but they add a hint of sweetness to the dish, and I highly recommend they be used.
While eating with one’s hands is a Moroccan time-honored tradition, I give permission to use a knife and fork with this delicious dish.
Bel Hana Wel Shefa or “Bon Appetit!”
Moroccan-Style Stuffed Peppers
8 red bell peppers, tops removed, cored and seeded
1 pound ground lamb or beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup cooked rice
½ cup raisins
2 cups beef broth
In a large bowl, combine beef, garlic, lemon juice, mint, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, rice and raisins.
Pour broth into the bottom of a slow cooker. Stuff peppers with meat/rice mixture. Stand stuffed peppers up in the broth in the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low heat setting 4½ to 5½ hours or until peppers are soft. Remove from cooker with a slotted spoon.