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Moroccan Vegetable Stew

Excellent served with couscous, heated or at room temperature, as a summer lunch or evening meal. I like to toast whole cumin seeds lightly over low heat for a few minutes until fragrant and then grind them in a mortar and pestle.

If using dried beans, soak 1 cup dried chick-peas in plenty of cold water overnight. Drain, rinse, place in saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 1 hour or until tender.

You can add or substitute seasonal vegetables, such as peas, green beans, carrots, red peppers, swiss chard or cauliflower. You could use sweet potatoes instead of regular and chopped apricots and/or prunes instead of raisins. Toast the nuts until nicely browned in a dry skillet over low heat, if desired.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger root
1 tsp each: ground cinnamon, ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 large eggplant, unpeeled, cut in 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 lb (500 g) potatoes, peeled, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
19 oz (540 mL) can chick-peas, drained, rinsed
10 oz (300 g) bag or large bunch fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup raisins or mixed chopped dried fruit
1/2 cup slivered almonds, pine nuts or cashew pieces
Chopped fresh mint, coriander or parsley for granish

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, salt and hot pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add eggplant, potatoes and tomato, stirring to coat. Pour in stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add chick-peas, spinach and raisins. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Garnish with almonds and mint, coriander or parsley.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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