Thursday, January 9, 2014

Moroccan Cooking - Zaalouk Salad

Remember my trip to Morocco?  I keep dreaming of going back.  It doesn't help that it keeps showing up on lists of the top places to visit.  I've even started trying my hand at Moroccan food.  My favorite thing about Moroccan food was that every meal started with a bunch of different little salads (kind of like Korean food, but not quite as many dishes).  I had a hard time not filling up on the salads before our main course came (and often failed), but I guess it's better than the American tradition of filling up on bread.

I mentioned here that while we were in Morocco we went on a cooking tour, which actually ended up being my favorite part of the trip.  The tour started with someone taking us through the markets to buy a bunch of ingredients, sample some things, and get a general feel for the crazy twisting streets.  My job was to be the keeper of the money, or the "lalafleuse" as our guide kept calling me (I think it's Dutch?), so while bargaining is not a thing in the food markets, I was supposed to make sure we were getting the right amount back each time.  We also did a bit of sampling, tasted tons of different kinds of herbs and a couple of fruits I've never seen before, as well as saw the sights of the market, including one man who hangs a goat head in his shop every day specifically to attract tourists and a spice/medicine shop that also sold animal hides. After our adventure in the markets, we went back to our guide's house to cook a gigantic lunch and sip on mint tea. It included a ton of different salads, couscous, and some sardines (made by me!).  And then I had to take a nap, we ate so much.

My absolute favorite of the salads is called zaalouk, and is made of fried eggplant mixed with cooked tomatoes and some other yummy things.  It was sort of surprising, given that I don't normally like eggplant, but they kept calling the eggplants "aubergines" (crazy Europeans) so maybe I was never exactly sure what I was eating.  I could seriously eat zaalouk every day, on veggies, on pita bread, or just by itself.  Seriously, it's my new hummus.

1 eggplant
4 tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
pinch of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
vegetable oil

Cut the eggplant into slices and place them in a bowl of salted water.  Chop the tomatoes.  Put them in a pan with the parsley, coriander, all of the spices, salt, garlic, and olive oil.  Simmer until dry (about 5-7 minutes).  While the tomatoes simmer, drain the eggplant and pat dry.  Fry the eggplant in vegetable oil until golden brown.  Add the eggplant to a food processor and puree.  Add the eggplant to the tomato mixture and stir well.  Add the vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve warm or cold with veggies, pita chips, or pita bread for dipping.  

And then eat it all!

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  1. I really don't ever try my hand at very cultured food, so this is so interesting to me–Zaalouk sounds really yummy!

  2. Um, that looks so freaking delicious! I'm definitely going to give it a go. That tour sounds like so much fun! I'd love to visit Morocco sometime! :)

    Bold Subtlety

    1. You should do it if you can! I was told most people from North America do the trip we did - Spain first and then Morocco since they're so close.

  3. Eggplant is one of my favorite veggies so this recipe looks amazing!

    1. I don't know if I can count eggplant among my favorites, but this recipe is definitely a keeper ;)

  4. This looks amazing! I will need to make it for my next dinner party! Thanks!

  5. We went to Morocco last year too! I brought back a cookbook that I picked up in the Marrakech medina but haven't cooked anything from it yet. I've got to get on that! We stayed in a Riad where they made us an amazing breakfast every morning, I want more of those little bubble pancakes :)

    <3 Vicki

    1. I didn't get any bubble pancakes, dang! I really liked the riad concept, our little cook was awesome.