This is our 2nd post as a part of the “Around the World in 12 Dishes” series! This month we visit MOROCCO! Can you find Morocco on a map?
As an exchange student in southern Spain, I visited Morocco for 2 colorful weeks as an adventure-hungry student. My girlfriends and I were so excited that we could enjoy the delicious, aromatic dishes typical of Morocco- without a hefty price-tag. In the tiny restaurants we visited daily, we would point to Arabic and French menus, not really knowing what we were ordering! Every time, our table was spread with an assortment of dishes: different salads, meatballs, tajine dishes cooked with lamb or chicken and vegetables and served with couscous...
Some typical ingredients from Moroccan food include almonds, sesame seeds, preserved lemons, olives, couscous, honey, legumes, dried fruits, barley; herbs such as parsley, cilantro, and spearmint, and spices such as saffron, spicy harissa, or ras el hanout. Meats include chicken and lamb, or different kinds of fish on the coasts. A very unique ingredient is either rose bud water, or orange blossom water (ma’ el zhar ماء الزهر) . We decided to make a dessert that uses this “orange flower water” (check the Middle Eastern food aisle in a large supermarket, or a specialty market).
The recipe we made is very adapted from Paula Wolfert‘s book “The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen.” She is the guru of this region’s cuisine, and also has written several other amazing cookbooks such as “Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco” and “Mediterranean Grains and Greens.” Among her countless awards, she has won the Julia Child Award three times and The James Beard Award five times. If you like Moroccan food, you need to check out her books!
That being said, I wanted to make a dessert using orange flower water, and I wanted my kids to be as involved as possible. While she definitely inspired this recipe, her version is way more refined and delicious and gourmet:).
Pomegranate and Pistachio Dessert Couscous
1 box of dried couscous
2 T butter
2 large pomegranates
1 c peeled pistachios
orange zest AND orange juice from one orange
2 T orange blossom water
1/4 c of powdered sugar + a bit more
To start, follow the directions to make the couscous. I usually put the dried couscous into a bowl with 2T butter, and then pour the correct amount of boiling water on top, covering the bowl with a towel. After 5 minutes your children can “fluff” it with a fork.
Next, have the kids shell the pistachios into the bowl. Cut the pomegranate into large wedges, and have your kids pop out all of the fruit into the bowl.
Have your kids zest the orange first, and then squeeze the orange juice into the bowl. They can also add the powdered sugar and orange blossom water, and stir well. (something funny: when I explained that the orange blossom water is made of flowers infused into water, my 5 year old son said “Oh, we made that one time at soccer, remember? In our water bottles?” hahaha :).
Finally, we made a fancy design on the couscous with pistachios and cinnamon, and then sprinkled powder sugar on top! My kids absolutely LOVED this dessert, and it would be hard to find someone who didn’t enjoy the tartness of the fruit, the sweetness of the juice and sugar, and the salty crunch of the pistachios. What a great introduction to Moroccan food! This might have been their first time tasting orange blossom water (except maybe in Pan de Muertos)- and they all noticed that the dish had something different about it. We loved this so much that they gobbled it up and I had to make a second recipe of it for my husband to taste!
Now it’s your turn! Visit Adventures In Mommydom, Creative Family Fun, Domestic Goddesque, Glittering Muffins, Here Come The Girls, Juggling with Kids, Kid World Citizen (me!), Kitchen Counter Chronicles, Mermaids’ Makings, Montessori Tidbits, Mummymummymum and The Educators’ Spin On It to get inspired! They will each help you on your food journey by cooking Moroccan food with our children and posting about it. Then go out there, cook, blog, and join in the linky fun.