About a month ago, I took a Moroccan cooking class at a great recreational cooking school here in NYC called Haven's Kitchen. Jeff Koehler was in town promoting his new cookbook, Morocco, and highlighted a few cooking techniques (like a 15 minute no-cook couscous) and recipes from the book.
The class was so much fun because it was very laid back (I definitely wasn't sipping wine during my classes in culinary school!), but I still learned a lot from Jeff. Mostly, I was surprised at how simple the recipes he showed us were.
I know in my own kitchen I tend to shy away from exotic cuisines, because I assume the recipes will include a long list of ingredients I don't have on hand, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my two favorite recipes from the evening actually had a rather short list of (mostly) familiar ingredients.
Take this carrot salad for example:
The only thing I had to buy to make this recipe was sweet paprika, and I know that won't go to waste--especially once winter comes and I'm cooking up some soups and stews!
One of the things I've come to love about Moroccan cuisine is that there's tons of flavor packed into every bite. Though this salad has a short list of ingredients, the mixture of sweet and savory ingredients gives the dish a very complex flavor and a heavenly smell that just screams exotic.
Even if you aren't a huge fan of ethnic foods, not to worry: I think this is still a great dish to try. The taste is familiar enough that it would be a good introduction to the cuisine.
I hope you'll give this recipe a try the next time you're looking for something other-worldly and let me know how it turned out!
Moroccan Carrot and Cumin Salad
3 T olive oil
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t sweet paprika
1/2 t sugar
Ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley