Saturday, 10 January 2015

The world of Moroccan Kadras- Part 1: Kadra with chickpeas and potatoes

If you have any link with Fez and have been brought up eating Fassi food, you might have gone to a saturation point with Kadra type of cooking.

Kadra (Kdra) is a sort of broth-y stew which is cooked in a deep pot and never in a tagine. It has very defined range of spices in it and it should have smen (Moroccan cured and preserved butter). In fact, this smen will be the only fat added to it. I think it's a very healthy dish and high in proteins.

The cheap version of kadra is made using chickpeas and the posher version uses blanched almonds which should cook to tenderness along with the broth (never toasted or fried).

Kadra varies from a soup to a dish with less broth. For today, I'll be sharing one of the versions from the second category.

When we serve a big family with children, we tend to add potatoes which are always everyone's favourite and do very well with the rest of the ingredients.

To my fellow Fassi people, I know you think that adding ginger to Kadra is a sacrilege but give it a go and see how you were missing on a wonderful dimension of this very old dish. More people in my family are adopting it.

A family presentation of Kadra with chickpeas and potatoes. Note the generous amount
 of the clear broth calling for a good Moroccan bread

Serves 8 -10 
Prep: 10 min - Cooking: 70 min by pressure cooker- 2h  for regular pot

  • 2 chickens of 1.5 kg each or 3 baby chickens (see tutorial here on how to prepare chicken for Moroccan cooking)
  • 1 kg of white/yellow onions, finely sliced or chopped 
  • 200 - 250g of chickpeas, pre-soaked overnight and peeled
  • 750 to 900 g of potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes or wedges
  • 1 tbsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger (not in a Traditional Fassi version)
  • A good pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tsp of finely ground white/black pepper (mix)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, about 6 cm tall
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp of smen (or 3 tbps of butter, but it's less interesting)
  • A handful of chopped parsley

Option: to make Another version of Kadra called Kadra Touimiya, omit potatoes and replace chickpeas with whole blanched almonds.

Kadra's broth has to be "clean" and yellow. It mainly relies on saffron, turmeric and aged butter


Cut each baby chicken into 4 pieces or 6 pieces if you are using bigger chicken.

In a deep pot, add a few tablespoons of water, the equivalent of a couple of chopped or sliced onions. the chicken pieces, the spices, the peeled chickpeas. Cover with water and cover the pot with a lid. Cook over medium heat. Add water should you see that it's needed.

A version of Kadra with almonds (Kadra Touimiya), cooking in the pot
Once the chicken is tender, fish it out, cover it with clean film or in another pot with a lid. Add the rest of the onions and carry on cooking them until they're all withered, mostly melted and the chickpeas are definitely cooked through. Make sure this is happening on medium heat. Add water if needed.

Add potatoes and half of parsley. Cook until potatoes are cooked through.

Before serving, return the chicken to the broth, correct the seasoning and add the rest of the chopped parsley and smen (or butter). Give it a few minutes to heat up over medium heat.

Serve hot with a good Moroccan bread, Turkish pide or a baguette.

Note: This dish is not to the type of food served in Restaurants, it's a family dish which is part of the culinary repertoire of a few Moroccan cities only (Fez, Meknes, Taza, Rabat, Marrakesh) with a few variations in spices.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Bourdaloue-inspired tart with cherries and blackcurrants

I love tarte bourdaloue in its traditional form with pears, but I also love it with apricots or peaches. There was a time when I had an overdose of apricot-bourdaloue when I was working in Morocco. It was a sweet overdose.

I have previously posted a similar recipe in French where the star of the show was the peach. So you get the picture, you can use many fruits: pear, apple, apricot, cherry, berries...

There is something about these tarts, you get different textures in one bite: from crunchy to moist to soft and melting in your mouth. The fruits bring a balanced sweetness and acidity beside their fruity flavour.

Makes about 20 cm tart
Prep: 15 min – baking: 25 min approx

Shortcrust or pastry dough
  • 250g of flour
  • 125g of butter in cubes, slightly cold
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with
  • 3 tbsp of cold milk, approx
  • 1 tbsp of almond powder (if used, reduce it from the flour weight)
Almond cream
  • 100 g of almond meal, preferably toasted for 5 to 10 min until it releases its smell
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 100 g of butter, soft at room temperature
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla beans or a few drops of vanilla extract 
  • 400 g of fresh cherries (pitted) and blackberries or any fresh seasonal fruit
Glazing (warm and sift)

  • 2-3 tbsp of apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp of water


Tart shell

Mix the flour with sugar and salt. Rub with cold butter until you reach a crumbly consistency. Bring the dough together by adding the egg yolk liquefied with milk. DO NOT OVERWORK the dough so it does not become elastic. Flatten it to an "abaisse"  in a cling film. Cover and place it in the fridge for 2 hours or in the freezer for 10 min.

Almond cream

Preheat the oven at 180 C.

In the meantime, make the almond cream, whisk sugar, salt and soft butter until creamy, add the eggs and flavourings and whisk again. Fold in the almond meal. Mix to combine and set aside.

Assembly and baking

Preheat the oven at 170 degrees C (for small ovens) or 180 degrees C (standard ovens).

In a lightly floured parchment paper, roll the shortcrust dough to 2-3 mm thickness. Transfer to tart pan and use your fingers delicately to press the dough to the corners. Leave 2-3 mm of extra dough exceeding the edges and cut neatly. Slightly prick the bottom. 

Place the berries all around and then top them with almond cream. Should you wish to make a real bourdaloue, place quarters of poached pears or peaches or apricot on top of the almond cream.

Bake for about 35 -40 min or until the edges and the top take a nice golden colour.

Once the tart is out of the oven, place the pan on a grill and brush it with a warm apricot glaze to give a shine but also to protect the fruits from the air. Leave the tart to cool.

Do not move it from its pan until it has cooled.

Serve the cherries-bourdaloue tart at room temperature.

Moroccan stuffed batbout (flatbread) with a vegetarian taktouka

This is a delicious recipe of vegetarian stuffed batbout. The stuffing is spiced up Moroccan-style and trapped inside a a wonderful bread shell.

The taktouka stuffing is actually a North African salad which is served as a starter or a cooked salad.

You can actually make a zaalouk stuffing as well, which is originally a Moroccan cooked salad as well. It's a good way of using leftovers.

You can make these stuffed batbout in small or larger forms. If always happen to have a batbout or bread dough in the fridge so these are done and served in a matter of 30 min.

If you have a pizza dough, it will work too as it's still considered as a bread dough.

I'm participating to Susan's event @ yeastspotting.

Serves 4
Prep: 1 h – Cooking: 4 min/piece

Batbout dough
  • 300 g of strong white flour
  • 200 g of fine semolina flour
  • 280 ml of water, lukewarm
  • 1 tbsp of dried yeast (or less if you are opting for long proofing time)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  •  1-2 tbsps of olive oil

Vegetable stuffing 
  • 1-2 medium-size onion, chopped
  • 1 medium-size tomato, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil + 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsps of coriander and parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

Optional additions
  • Chopped green olives
  • Harissa
  • For a meaty version, add 300 g of minced beef/lamb and double the amount of herbs and spices


Make the batbout dough

Prepare the dough batbout as shown in the recipe or a faster recipe here. Cover and let rise and double in volume.

Shape it into dough balls anywhere between 8-10 mm diameter. Cover and let them rest for 15 min.

Make the vegetable stuffing

Over a medium heat, heat the oil in a pan then fold in the onion and the chopped peppers. Add the spices, garlic and stir. Cover so the vegetables sweat and cook through. Add a tiny bit of water if needed as it will reduce anyway.

Add the tomatoes and herbs. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Turn off heat and set aside to cool. 
Drain any excess of liquid.

Served as a cooked salad, this rough taktouka is drained to be used as a stuffing

If you are adding harissa or chopped olives, it’s the time to do so.

Roll and pan-fry the stuffed batbout

Dust the work surface with white or fine semolina flour, Roll a ball of dough as thin as 3-4 mm. 
Place the stuffing in the centre.

Bring the edges of the dough to the centre. Pinch them to seal and flip this pouch in order to have the sealed section at the bottom. Gently flatten the pouch to expand the circle. Make sure you give it a quarter turn after each roll and make sure the work surface is dusted with flour so the dough does not stick. See this post to have an idea how we cover this step (look for batbout beche'hma).

Place each rolled flatbread on a dusted kitchen towel.

Over medium heat, place a skillet or a griddle and pan-fry the stuffed batbout on both sides until they look nicely golden.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


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