October 5, 2009

Moroccan Feast

This past week I focused on Moroccan food. The cuisine from Morocco and North Africa is one of my favorites because the flavors and ingredients are fresh and lively and colorful. And it's no wonder, since Morocco is a blend of various cultures, each offering their own style and ingredients. The indigenous Berbers have their tangines and couscous; the nomadic Bedouins brought in dates, milk, and grains; the Moors from Spain brought olives, paprika, and herbs. Add some French influence to tidy it all up and you have a grand landscape of flavors that is not heavy on meat but showcases vegetables and fruits.

For my first recipe, I present a simple dip similar to hummus, but instead of chickpeas it uses fava beans. It is called bissara.

Garlic Fava Bean Dip


12 oz dried fava beans, soaked in water overnight
4 garlic cloves
2 t cumin seeds
4 T olive oil
pinch of paprika and thyme


1. Drain the beans, remove the outer brown skins, and drop them into a pressure cooker or pot. Add the garlic and the cumin seeds. Add enough water to cover. If using a pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for about 15 minutes. If using a pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

2. Drain the beans and place in a food processor. Puree the beans and drizzle in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt, then sprinkle with paprika and thyme. Serve warm or at room temperature with bread.

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