Morrocan-style Potato and Carrot Tagine

Do you like Moroccan food? I was fortunate to grow up in a family that did, and we even visited Morocco in 1980 when I was 8 years old. The two things I remember about the country are the donkeys and the mint. We were given bunches of mint to inhale while visiting the odoriferous dye vats. And when visiting carpet dealers (which seemed to be constantly, but may have been only once), they served hot mint tea by pouring it from the pot in one long, lifting arc so that it cooled as it fell into the glass.

I also have great memories of Moroccan restaurants in North America, including the Sultan's Tent in Toronto (which has now moved downtown) and the Casablanca in Harvard Square (now closed). 

But guess what? There is no Moroccan restaurant in Brattleboro, Vermont. So sometimes I make my own Moroccan food. This particular dish is adapted from several Internet recipes. The addition of green olives and preserved lemon gives it amazing flavor angles you wouldn't get from an ordinary veggie stew. 

The Brattleboro Food Coop sells preserved lemons in
jars of two. They are salty and meltingly soft.

I'm calling it "tagine," although I don't have the proper clay pot or much knowledge of actual Moroccan cooking apart from watching youtube videos. So that's also why this is "Moroccan-style" (or Moroccan-ish): because it is a loooooong way from authentic.

2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped (or try grating for more sweetness)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped or grated
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1 cup water (more if needed)
4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1 can chickpeas/garbanzos
1/2 cup pitted green olives (pit them with a knife if needed)
1 preserved lemon, quartered with seeds scraped out
parsley or cilantro for garnish

1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven and saute onion for 2-3 minutes, then garlic and ginger for 2-3 more minutes, then turmeric, pepper, and cinnamon for another few minutes.

2. Add the carrots and stir around to cover with the spice mixture, then pour in 1 cup water (or more to cover, if needed). Bring carrots to a gentle boil.

3. Add the potatoes, chickpeas, olives, and preserved lemon quarters (I tuck the quarters around the edges). Add more water to cover if needed. Cover with lid and simmer for about 20 minutes.

3. After 20 minutes, check the liquid. If there's a lot left, uncover and let the liquid reduce to make a light sauce for the veggies. Once the potatoes are soft and starting to fall apart, you can serve!

I served the veggies topped with cilantro and chopped chiles from the preserved lemon jar. We had couscous and naan on the side. I buttered the naan, but otherwise everything is vegan. (I used naan because it was the best flatbread I could find.)

I am obsessed with preserved lemons now.

So back to my first question--comment below if you like Moroccan food! What's your favorite dish or restaurant? Have you ever been to a restaurant with a belly dancer?

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