Partly because of my fascination with Mourad's "New Moroccan" cookbook, we are teaming up with the neighbors to put together a Moroccan dinner. If I can pull it off, I'll be making the first course, which is beghrir -- yeasted pancakes that are smooth and brown on one side and have lots of holes and are pale on the other side. These are rather different from anything I've ever made so I tried out Mourad's approach yesterday and it did not work out well. More about that later. ANYWAY second course will be Tunisian brik with Moroccan carrot salad and spiced green olives. As you guys probably know, brik is tuna and other ingredients cooked in a pastry shell. And the carrots are cut into big chunks and cooked until just tender, and given an intriguing spicy flavor in which cumin is probably the dominant smell.
The third course will be "North African Chicken" from the NY Times last Wednesday. Cooked with chickpeas and an array of spices.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/dinin ... ecipe.html
I'll be making Mourad's rainbow chard as a side dish with that course.
For dessert Louise is making kaab el ghzal, "gazelle's horn" cookies, which have a sweet filling of ground almonds, sugar, and orange flower water inside a thin pastry shell, and we will have chunks of watermelon garnished with mint leaves.
Mourad's recipe for beghrir has several odd things about it. You combine wet and dry ingredients in a spinning blender. The batter is rather watery, not thick. And he suggests using a "silver dollar" pancake pan with 3" hemispherical depressions. I was excited about that because I own such a pan. But it didn't really work for me yesterday. I realize that part of the problem was that I combined everything for a 90 minute "yeast rising" step and then went shopping. And I got home an hour too late, so I probably missed the peak of bubble making -- hence there were no "eyes" in my beghrir. Beghrir is a little reminiscent of the Ethiopian injeera bread with a "holey" texture, it is supposed to have "eyes." Also it was hard for me to regulate the heat on this pan, so I was getting a burned outside and an uncooked inside. Got to keep it lower. I was "eating my mistakes" and I really thought it was a giant flop. Beghrir looks like pancakes but unlike our pancakes there is no sugar in the batter, so they come out seeming tasteless.
At any rate I cooked up the whole batch and put them aside. Then late last night I microwaved a few and put butter and honey on them. O.M.G.! The flavor was fabulous!! That is what beghrir is made for, you have to "wake up" the lovely subtle yeasty flavor by adding honey and butter. And they look like little mushroom caps now, you really could mistake them for mushroom caps. I had completely decided to go with a different recipe for beghrir -- I bought another book, "Flavors of Morocco" by Ghillie Basan -- and now I'm unsure. Having been through the complicated Mourad recipe once, I would have a better chance of getting it right today. And I bought some whole milk (which the recipe calls for) -- yesterday I was using 1%. Hmmm.
Has anyone made beghrir? Did it work for you, did you get 1000 eyes?? There is also an Indian pancake ("appam") that looks almost identical -- except it's made from rice flour. I saw some frozen in the Patel Cash n Carry when I was buying basmati rice yesterday and thought briefly of buying some as backup. But I read the label and it had some Indian spicing, it really would not have tasted right...