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Practicing Moroccan Cooking: The Plan

A Moroccan Tajine
Those of you who know me well know that I like to cook, and one of my short-term goals is to familiarize myself with Moroccan cooking. To this end, I have planned a Moroccan meal to prepare for the family for Christmas. Here is what I hope to make:

In this part of the world, bread is sacred. If someone finds a piece lying on the ground, the custom is to pick it up, kiss it, and set it someplace safe. Moroccan bread is chewy, soft-crusted, absorbent, and makes for a great utensil. I plan to have plenty of it.

Mixed Herb Salad & Carrot Salad
Moroccans begin their meals with a series of hot or cold salads. I'll have two kinds prepared, plenty of herbs and spices in each.

Harira Soup
This is a traditional soup. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day. At sunset, they break the fast with this breakfast: Harira Soup and a bowl of fresh dates. The soup of course has many spices, as well as the addition of smen, a cooked, salted butter.

Djej Masquid Bil Beid or Chicken with Eggs, Lemon, and Olives
A classic Moroccan dish. Moroccans are known for their perfection of their meat-fruit combinations. They love including dates, raisins, lemons, and many other fruits with their lamb or chicken dishes. This dish calls for another Moroccan specialty: preserved lemons. These are made by letting fresh lemons soak in a brine with salt and sometimes various spices until preserved (about 30 days, minimum).

Tajine of Lamb with Pears
Again, a meat-fruit combination, sweet and spicy. Tajines are very common in Morocco. They are the name of a dish and a cooking implement. Tajines are earthenware dishes fitted with a conical lid. They are set over coals so that everything slow-cooks, and all of the delicious juices are trapped inside.

7-Vegetable Couscous
Moroccans take great pride in their couscous. It is reportedly like no other couscous in the world - so delicate, so savory. Meals typically include a course of couscous, and this 7-vegetable version is a big deal in Fez.

M'hanncha or "The Snake"
Time for dessert! This is a traditional Moroccan pastry filled with almond paste and coiled up like a fierce serpent.

All of this will be served with plenty of mint tea, the beverage of choice for Moroccans. They like their tea very minty and very sweet!

This is the plan, anyway. I'll post pictures and comments after the meal. Wish me luck!
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