I ordered a Moroccan cookbook, Cooking at the Kasbah by Kitty Morse, last week and after impatiently waiting a whole three days for it to be delivered, it finaly arrived and I eagerly thumbed through its pages the second it did. The following day, I didn’t hesitate to try my hand at the first recipe that caught my eye: Temrika Meslalla or Garlic Beef with Cracked Green Olives. Moroccan cuisine is extremely diverse with notable Berber, Moorish, Mediterranean and Arab influences. Temrika Meslalla, it is said, is a dish typically served on the eve of the Sabbath in the homes of Morocco’s Sephardi Jews.
I loved the simplicity of this dish and even more so enjoyed the distinctive flavors imparted by the cumin and especially the whole heads of garlic that are roasted in the smoky tomato sauce alongside the beef. Serve this dish with rice and some fresh bread on which (as Morse suggests) you should slather the buttery garlic pulp and forever change your perception of this pungent bulb. The flavor of whole roasted garlic is nothing like what you would expect … it’s intoxicating. Seriously, I kid you not.
I’m looking forward to preparing so many more of the exquisite recipes featured on the pages of Cooking at the Kasbah because, to be honest, so many caught my eye … the post-it notes and earmarked corners throughout the cookbook are a tell-tale sign at that. I’ll be sure to share them with all of you. Although I would urge you to just buy this book and try them all out for yourselves! All I need now is a tagine to make my Moroccan dishes all the more authentic …
Temrika Meslalla — Garlic Beef with Cracked Green Olives
From Kitty Morse’s Cooking at the Kasbah
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped (I used 18 ounces canned chopped tomatoes)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces pitted cracked green olives
4 whole heads garlic, papery outer skins removed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Optional: 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a medium dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium high heat and cook the beef until browned on all sides. Add the tomatoes, cumin, pepper and olives. Place the garlic heads among the meat, cover the dutch oven and bake in the oven for about 1 hour until the meat is fork tender.
Remove the cooked meat to a serving platter and keep warm. Heat the remaining sauce in the dutch oven over medium heat and stir in the lemon juice. Cook, stirring until the sauce reduces by about a third. Pour the sauce over the beef, arrange the garlic heads on the platter and if desired, sprinkle with fresh parsley.