Day 14 in the 2016 VeganMoFo: Monochrome meal – Make some food that is all based around one colour only.
This orange meal looks as warm as it tastes! The key to a good flavour is a north African blend of spices called ras el hanout (Arabic: راس الحانوت). The name means ‘top of the shop’ and refers to a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer. There is no set combination of spices that makes up ras el hanout; each shop, restaurant or cook has their own favourite mix.
Typically it includes cardamom, clove, cinnamon, chilli peppers, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, pepper and turmeric. Some recipes include over one hundred ingredients, some of which are rarely found in Western food, such as ash berries, chufa, Grains of Paradise, orris root, Monk’s pepper, cubebs or dried rosebud. One recipe I saw had dried Damascan rose petals in it! Usually all the ingredients are toasted and then ground up together. You can use ras el hanout in many types of food; as a rub on burgers or and stirred into a stew or tagine.
A tagine (Berber: tajin) is a dish from North Africa that is named after the earthenware pot it is cooked in. A traditional tagine pot is made up of a flat, circular bowl with low sides and a large dome-shaped lid that covers the base during cooking. Until I get a tagine I have to make do with my cast iron pot, but that works very well. Here’s the recipe…
- Vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced
- ½ a butternut squash, cubed
- ½ a large sweet potato, cubed
- 1 small red pepper, chopped
- 2 tsp ras el hanout
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tin tomatoes
- 10-12 dried apricots, halved
- 1 can chick peas, drained
- 100g almonds, blanched, peeled and toasted
- Small handful fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped (yes I know it’s not orange but it’s pretty essential to the authentic flavour).
Chop all the vegetables to the same size and add to a hot pan and fry in a little oil. Keep turning the vegetables until just beginning to colour. Add the spices and reduce the heat and leave to cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, apricots and chick peas and cook for a further 20 mins or until all the vegetables are soft. Add a little water if it starts to stick. Throw in the almonds and the coriander and serve with a large bowl of cous cous and some Harissa sauce – which is also a lovely, rich orangey red colour. What to drink with this? Obviously, an Aperol Spritz!