Something Different
Week of: September 19, 2011
Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Cook Carrots and Potatoes the Moroccan Way

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Couscous is a shining star of North African cooking and its most widely known dish. In Morocco, though, the real star is the tagine. Couscous is a dish for feasts and, at home, for Sunday dinner. Tagines, stews cooked in a low, round heat-proof dish covered with a cone-shaped top, are eaten every day.

Tagines are easy to assemble and need little attention while they simmer on the stove. You may think couscous is even easier. Add boiling water, let sit and serve. But the western supermarket version is nothing like the real thing. Steamed in the top of a two-part pot, with the stew to serve over it cooking in the bottom, properly prepared couscous is removed and every grain rolled between the cook's palms, then returned to steam again. Three times this step is repeated to produce the ethereal result you just might get in a Moroccan restaurant here, if you can find one. Or if you can locate the pot, a couscousiére to lovingly make authentic couscous like those discussed in Paula Wolfert's Moroccan Cooking, an open group on Facebook.

Tagines you make can be almost as good as you find in Morocco, whether you use a high-hatted tagine, a pot increasingly available in cookware stores and on the Internet, or cook them in a Dutch oven or other tightly covered pot. This one, fragrant with warming spices and featuring root vegetables, is a perfect dish for autumn and right through the winter.

Did I mention that the only fat in this dish is in its olives or that it is excellent made ahead and reheated? I like showering it with chopped cilantro but you are welcome to omit. So bon appetit, and if you know its Arabic equivalent, please share it.

Vegetable Tagine
Download 300 dpi photo

Tagine of Carrots, Potatoes and Green Olives

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 large carrots, about 1/2 pound, cut into 2-inch pieces and halved lengthwise
  • 3 (2-inch x 1-inch) strips orange zest
  • 1 cup vegetable broth, plus 1/4 cup
  • 2 medium white turnips, each cut into 6 wedges
  • 1/2 lb. yellow-flesh potatoes, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 12 pitted green olives, preferably Sicilian-style
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, optional

Place onion, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, turmeric, carrots, orange zest and 1 cup of broth in tagine or medium Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid, and stir to distribute pieces and zest. Cover, and set over medium-high heat until liquid boils, 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

Add turnips, potatoes and olives and cook until potatoes are easily pierced with knife, about 10 minutes. If pot is getting dry, add an additional 1/4 cup broth.

If using a tagine, sprinkle cilantro over the vegetables, and serve. Or, transfer contents of the pot to a serving bowl and top with cilantro.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 140 calories, 2 g fat (< 1 g sat fat), 28 g carbohydrates,
3 g protein 4 g fiber, 440 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

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