Ras el-hanout tabbouleh

October 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

After spending the entire Indian summer we’ve had indoors and mostly working, whilst I’ve cooked a-plenty.. to, y’know, survive, I’ve hardly had any time to take photos!

Two years ago, around this time I made a Moroccan feast for my darling sister’s birthday. This year, we carried on the tradition in our new home and had some friends round for some delectable Moroccan treats. Moroccan food brings together some beautifully diverse tastes, such as delicate rose with the warmth and spice of cumin and cinnamon. Ras el-hanout is a perfect example of this marriage of spices as it is used widely in Moroccan food to enhance the flavours of dishes with characteristic flavours associated with the Middle East.

There are a couple of side dishes I’ll include in this recipe, just to make up for the lack of photographic evidence! One was a super spicy yoghurt-harissa dip and the other, roasted carrots with more ras el-hanout. The different balances of flavours really worked for this meal because the spicy nature of the moussaka can be evenly tempered with the cool tabbouleh and sweet carrots.

So for the tabbouleh, you’ll need:

  • 350g bulgar wheat (with 500ml slightly salted boiling water)
  • 8-10 vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
  • Half a cucumber
  • 1 bunch of spring onions, sliced
  • 60g fresh parsley
  • Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp ras el-hanout
  • Salt and pepper

You’re going to need a big bowl. Prepare the bulgar wheat according to the instructions on the pack and in the meanwhile finely dice the tomatoes and cucumber. Set aside in the bowl, then slice in the spring onions – I find that it’s easier to do this with kitchen scissors, and actually a lot faster. Grate in the zest of a whole unwaxed lemon; microplane zesters are brilliant for doing this so if you don’t have one yet, go out and get one! Squeeze the lemon for 3 tbsp of lemon juice and then crush two cloves of garlic into the bowl. Chop up the parsley quite roughly and add this in too.

By this time your bulgar wheat should be ready and fluffed up. Transfer the bulgar wheat into the bowl with the ingredients and pour over 8 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Combine well, then sprinkle over 1 tbsp (or a little more to taste) of ras el-hanout. Mix once more. An alternative way to do this last step is to omit the lemon juice and garlic from the last step, then in a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic and ras el-hanout, with seasoning to taste. Drizzle this over the bulgar wheat and combine it all together.

Leave this to cool, as it’s best served at room temperature.

 

Now I mentioned a couple of accompaniments and side dishes, didn’t I? These went down a treat. Carrots are a brilliant side for any Moroccan meal because they provide another dimension of sweet with savoury. Especially in this dish as we marinade the carrots in fresh tastes, then roast to bring out the sweetness.

You will need:

  • 5-6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into oblique 1-2 inch pieces

For the marinade:

  • 50ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp ras el-hanout
  • 30g chopped parsley
  • 30g chopped mint
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • grated zest of ½ lemon

Start off by boiling the carrots in salted water until just soft. Drain them and set aside whilst you make the marinade. Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl, add the carrots and season with Maldon sea salt and ground black pepper. Mix well, then transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet to roast in a preheated oven (200ºC) for 15 minutes or so.

These can be served warm with the rest of your meal.

 

Finally, the yoghurt dip – this was a real spicy one! Best to actually do this to taste…

  • half a pot of plain yoghurt, lightly beaten
  • 5-6 tsp harissa
  • small handful of chopped coriander
  • small handful of chopped mint

Mix together the harissa and chopped herbs in a bowl, add yoghurt and combine well. Served with slightly toasted pitta bread cut into wedges.

 

So that should set you off on your way to a gorgeous Moroccan meal- be sure to break out some good wine. We went with Gewurztraminer 2009 medium-sweet white wine and an Amarone della Valpolicella 2008 medium-bodied red wine.

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