بسملة Sacred Moroccan spice.

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There are few sacred things. Food is one of them.

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Good friends are sacred too. Last night I made dinner with a friend who recently returned from studying in the middle east. He spent most of his time abroad in Morocco and, from the look of his fringed, woven scarf, he’s still there.

I’m glad he came back to North Carolina for a bit and brought ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and saffron with him. I’m also glad he hasn’t rejected alcohol like most of Morocco and took up bartending instead.

Before eating, we blessed the food with بسملة (basmala): “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” After you try Morocco’s combination of saffron, cumin, and cinnamon, you’ll be saying the same thing too.

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Moroccan Lemon Tagine

Serves 6.

2 medium onions
1 green pepper
2 potatoes
3 roma tomatoes
2 lemons
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pinches salt1 tsp each of ginger, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, red pepper flakes, ground red pepper
cilantro, for garnish

Fish Marinade

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp each of saffron, ginger, turmeric, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon
2 tsp cumin 4 large fish filets (Tilapia or Ling Cod works well)

  1. Combine marinade and spread on fish. Cover and let sit in the fridge for 1 hour.
  2. Slice all vegetables, including lemons 1/2 inch thick. Fill the bottom of a large tagine or cast-iron pot (I used a Le Crueset) with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Mix spices and salt, and dredge potatoes in mix. Layer onions, then peppers, then potatoes, then tomatoes, then lemons, then fish. Spoon remaining marinade over fish and vegetables.
  3. Cover the tagine or pot and let cook on medium-low heat, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Test potatoes; when soft, tagine is done.
  4. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm with salad and plain yogurt.

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