Because of our International Dinner Club I've had the pleasure of tasting a wide variety of culinary countries including Morocco. Sadly, Morocco is the country that I have liked the least so far. In Morocco's defense, a lot of their dishes use cinnamon and dried fruit: two of my least favorite ingredients in savory food. So it's not the cuisines fault...just my own picky palate.
In an effort to keep my tastebuds guessing and expand our palates I decided to give Moroccan food another try. I was pretty sure not everything had cinnamon and dried fruit in it. I came across a recipe in Sunset Magazine that inspired me to create my own Moroccan stew that has one of my most favorite spices in it: cumin. I have a small love affair with cumin and its warm smokiness and always add it in copious amounts whenever I can. There's nothing stopping me from eating Moroccan now - no cinnamon and a buttload of cumin. I can dig it.
*Recipe inspired by Sunset Magazine
1 lb stewing beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried cumin
2 tsp dried coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Zest of lemon
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
In a bowl, toss the beef with a couple tablespoons of flour to coat. In a large pot, heat a tablespooon of oil over medium-high heat. When the pot is hot, add half of the beef. Don't add all the beef or the heat will drop too much and you won't get a nice brown coating on the meat. Saute for a couple minutes until the beef is nice and browned on all sides. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. You may need to add another tablespoon of oil and then add the rest of the beef. Cook until browned and then add to the rest of the beef that has been removed from the pan. Add just a touch more oil to the pan, turn the heat down to medium and add the onions and garlic to the pot. Saute about 5 minutes or so until the onions have softened. Add the cumin, coriander, tumeric and cayenne and fry about 3o seconds. Add the water, can of tomatoes and the beef and stir. Turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
About 10 minutes before the stew is done, begin to prepare your couscous. Also in a dry pan over medium heat toast the slivered almonds. Once they have a bit of a golden color and you can smell their nuttiness, remove the pan from the heat. Add the almonds to the stew, along with the zest of the lemon. Chop up the mint and stir into stew right before serving.
Serve over couscous.
Click here for printable version of Moroccan Beef Stew with Almonds.
I was pleasantly surprised with how this turned out. This was the first Moroccan dish I liked! My toddler loved it and my husband thought it was good for a change. He said it isn't something he'd want to eat all the time but it was good to switch it up.
I loved the combination of cumin, coriander, tumeric and cayenne. I had actually intended for this stew to have more of a dominant mint flavor, but I was so pleased with the warm aroma and flavor of the dried spices that I made the mint just an undertone. It's amazing what a brightness the lemon zest adds to the final dish. I also LOVED the crunch and nuttiness from the almonds.
...I still can't believe I ate Moroccan and liked it...