Posted by: colegrove | Saturday 21 June 2008

Thoughts on Morocco and Food

Moroccan Mint TeaAs I sit here soaking up the sun this warm South Dakotan day, sipping my Moroccan Mint Tea, a thought comes to my mind… What is “Moroccan Mint”? This tea seems to be less minty than Peppermint or Spearmint. It turns out there are many varieties of Mint in addition to these classics there are Apple Mint, Bergamont Mint, Water Mint, Pennyroyal, and others. Moroccan Mint seems to be one of a plethera of mints. Very good for teas.

This bring me to Morocco. A pleasant western Mediterranean nation, it brings to mind Humphrey Bogart on the classic, Casablanca. It picture the Atlas Mountains, rolling Sand Dunes, middle eastern markets and busy foreign streets bustling with people selling handmade goods. The biggest thing perhaps besides the mint tea, is the intricate designs in art and architecture. Of course, I don’t know from experience, but these are some of the things that come to mind when I think of Morocco.

In my searches on Morocco, I once came to the unusual ruler known as Moulay Ismail Ibn Sharif (1634-1727) who reigned in there from 1672. He was most known for the most recorded children born to one father. As Sultan, he had 888 children (one wonders if this number is more legend or not), with his harem of 500 women. Another source says he had 1,042 children but either way, he was very prolific. Talk about being fruitful and multiplying!

Mint from MoroccoI must be on a theme. One of my favorite dishes my wife cooks up every so often is Moroccan Stir Fry. It is a hit with just about everyone we cook for. Here is the recipe:

  • 2 t Olive Oil
  • 2 medium Carrots
  • 1 cup chopped Onion
  • 1 cup Bell Pepper, chopped (be creative and colorful)
  • 2 cloves of Garlic (one of the healthiest of foods – but that’s another tangent)
  • 1/2 to 3/2 cup Rasins
  • 1 t ground Cumin
  • 1/2 t Sea Salt
  • 1/4 t Turmeric, ground
  • 1/2 t Cinnamon, ground
  • 1/8 t Pepper
  • 1 can (or equivalent) of Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • 2 T fresh ParsleyMoroccan Coast

We like to double the spices sometimes. Mmmmm. Heat the Olive Oil in 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Cook carrots, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in oil for 4 minutes. Stir in remaining ingrediants except parsley. Cook 5 minutes stirring frequently. Garnish with parsley. This dish is great with herbed or Parmesan couscous. What is couscous you ask? I’m glad, well, CousCous is also popular in Morocco, Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon. It’s ground up wheat. I don’t know how else to describe it. I have enclosed some pictures I’ve collected (not my own) on this site, and one day I’ll have to take a picture of the stir fry myself and post it to show what it looks like and how appetizingly healthy it is.

Now, on to the next small rabbit trail… on the subject of my favorite bean, Garbanzo, let me throw out another recipe we made recently, Chickpea Curry with Chapattis. Here is the Chickpea Curry recipe:

  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (my grandmother used this spice a lot I believe)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 x 440 gram (14 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 440 g (14 oz) canned tomato pieces
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala

1. Slice onions finely; crush garlic. Heat oil in a medium pan. Add onion and garlic to pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until soft.

2. Add the chili powder, sea salt, turmeric, paprika, cumin, and coriander. Stir over heat for one minute.

3. Add chickpeas and undrained tomatoes, stir until combined. Simmer, covered, over low heat 20 minutes (we usually do almost 25), stirring occasionally. Stir in garam masala. Simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes.

Street in MoroccoTraditional chapattis or regular store bought wraps can be used to serve.

Speaking of garam masala, one of my college friends was from Kenya and introduced me to what she called “Kenyan Tea” which was Masala Chai, very tasty. Garam Masala is a group of spices commonly used together in Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladesh. Interesting that Kenya would use masala also. Most likely it is because Arab and Indian traders made small colonies along the coast of eastern Africa during many years of the last millennium and some of that culture mixed with native Africa.

Now as I sit here finishing off a large bowl of organic blueberries with a toothpick, and begin to read more of “The Revolution: A Manifesto” by Dr. Ron Paul (former presidential candidate and founder of Campaign for Liberty), I bid my readers adieu until next post.



  1. I never knew so many different types of mint existed. I had heard of Moroccan Mint Tea, but attributed the name to fancy advertising! You learn something new everyday!

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