• Friday, September 25, 2020

Marrakech Recipes

Marrakech Spice
By , CYJ Contributor
August 22, 2012

Indecisiveness can strike the best of us in Marrakech, where every dish is appealing thanks to a mix of vibrant colors, perfectly charred meats, and insanely delicious smells. Thankfully, it’s hard to make a poor choice when ordering, especially with such eclectic offerings. Our Berber menu satisfies all appetites for savory and sweet and features essentials like tagine, couscous, spice blends, and preserved lemons. 

Hummus with Za’atar and Olives


2 garlic cloves
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained
1/3 cup tahini
1/2 teaspoon za’atar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Moroccan olives, chopped fine
Kosher salt, to taste

(Photo Courtesy of Leah Rosenthal)


Bread is an important part of any Moroccan meal, ideal for sopping up soft vegetables and juices from a tagine or this creamy hummus. Za’atar—a blend of oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, and other dried herbs—offers a flavor both familiar and new. Don’t be shy when adding salt, which chickpeas seem to crave.

Yield: 4-5 servings 

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add garlic and purée for 10 seconds. Add chickpeas, tahini, za’atar, and lemon juice. Puree, slowing adding oil until mixture is smooth. Add additional oil or water if consistency is too thick. Season with salt.

Remove mixture from food processor, place in an airtight container, and refrigerate until serving. Before serving, mix well and garnish with olives. 

Chicken Tagine with Apricot and Caramelized Onions


2 lbs. skinless chicken legs and thighs, patted dry
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
8 dried apricots, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon coriander, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


Tagines as cookware are unique to North Africa, but the concept of braising meats and vegetables low and slow is universal. This version echoes the ability of Moroccan cuisine to expertly combine savory and sweet.

Yield: 4 servings

Season both sides of chicken with paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons oil to a 6-quart pot on medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, sear chicken, about 1 minute on each side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Add an additional tablespoon of oil to pan, then onions. Season with salt and pepper and sauté about 12 minutes until soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook 1 minute. Add chicken, apricots, cinnamon stick, and chicken stock. Bring mixture to a boil, cover with a lid, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until chicken is falling off the bone, about 50-60 minutes. Garnish with coriander and serve.

Grilled Ras El Hanout Dusted Lamb with Preserved Lemons


For lamb:
1 (4 lb.) boneless leg of lamb, butterflied
1 tablespoon ras el hanout
10 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste


For lemons:
10 lemons
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Kosher salt


Ras el hanout is the ultimate spice blend. Its aggressive punch stands up well to the assertive flavor of lamb, so this is not a shy dish. If you have trouble finding ras el hanout at your local store, it’s available online at kalustyans.com, but if you live in New York and haven’t visited their store in Murray Hill, go now—it’s spice heaven.

Yield: 10 servings

Place lamb in a large bowl and rub ras el hanout over entire piece of meat. Sprinkle garlic over lamb and add olive oil. Cover, refrigerate, and allow lamb to marinate over night.

For lamb: 
Take out lamb from refrigerator about 45 minutes before grilling. Preheat grill to medium-high. Wipe excess garlic and oil from lamb. Season with salt. Grill lamb, turning occasionally, until a meat thermometer registers 130˚F. Allow meat to rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with sliced preserved lemons.

Wash and dry lemons. Cut an X into lemon lengthwise, but don’t slice through the fruit entirely. Instead, leave about 1-2 centimeters intact. Generously pack lemon with salt and place into a sterile, airtight container.

For lemons: 
Repeat process with 6 additional lemons. Place cinnamon stick and peppercorns in center of container, in between lemons.  Add the juice of 3 remaining lemons to the jar, and seal tightly. Let stand for a month, until lemons are very soft. To serve, slice lemons thinly. Once preserved, refrigerate lemons, which will keep for several months. 

Coriander and Mint Couscous with Almonds


1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups couscous
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons mint, minced
2 tablespoons coriander, minced
3 tablespoons scallions, sliced thin
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
Kosher salt, to taste


Couscous is another element at the heart of Moroccan cuisine and, like pasta, offers a blank canvas. If you love spice, throw in some chili. If you want a bit of freshness and crunch, add some raw fennel.

Yield: 4 servings

Bring chicken stock and water to a boil. Shut off heat, add couscous, and cover tightly for 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork. Add lemon juice, oil, mint, coriander, and scallions, and mix well. Season with salt and top with almonds before serving. 

Saffron Panna Cotta with Honey and Dates


2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped.
zest of an orange


Dessert lovers hit the jackpot in Morocco, where there seems to be an endless supply of amazingly good sweets. This panna cotta is on the lighter side, but saffron and dates add a colorful twist.

Yield: 5 servings

Add gelatin and water to a small bowl and set aside.

Bring cream, sugar, saffron, and orange zest to a boil, whisking occasionally. Shut off heat. Add gelatin mixture to hot cream mixture and whisk.

Add 2 tablespoons honey and yogurt to a large bowl and mix. Add warm cream mixture to yogurt and mix well. Pour mixture into 5 ramekins and refrigerate until cold. Cover ramekins with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To remove panna cotta, dip mold into hot water. Dip a knife into hot water and gently trace blade along entire inside edge of each mold. Place serving plate on top of mold and flip over. Drizzle with remaining honey and garnish with dates.

Galavante Videos

The Insider Experience
The Insider Experience
A Few of Our Favorite...
By Christine McDonald In fashion-focused New York City, it’s often shoes, watches, and handbags... more>>