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Journey Beyond Travel A journey into Morocco behind the scenes-cities, mountains and desert.

Passport & Plate - Medfouna

Morocco | Friday, 6 March 2015 | 5 photos


Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup fine semolina or whole wheat flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry instant yeast
3/4 c warm water
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp quatre epice or fennel seeds

300 g good quality ground lamb
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground fennel
1/2 tsp ground green cardamom
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp harissa or cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c chopped parsley
1/4 c sliced green olices
1/4 c chopped toasted almonds

1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tbsp sesame or poppy seeds

1/2 c Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest

 

How to prepare this recipe
In a bowl, mix together both flours and salt. Activate yeast by combining yeast, honey and warm water in a cup. When foaming, add to flour mixture and mix. Add in olive oil and spice. Turn onto floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes (adding a bit more water if too dry) until smooth and elastic.
Cover the dough and let it rest for 2 hours or until about doubled in size. Gently punch down the dough, divide in 2 balls and let rise another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare filling. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add onions and garlic to soften. Add all of the spices, cook for 1 minute to release flavours. Add lamb and cook just a few minutes (until about half done and not browned) and remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning; cover and set aside.

Sprinkle work surface with flour and roll out 1 ball of dough to dinner plate size (10 inches). Transfer onto pizza stone or baking sheet. Top with meat mixture, leaving 1 cm minimum exposed dough around the edges. Sprinkle with fresh parsley, almonds and olives. Roll out second ball to the same size as the first. Brush exposed edge of bottom crust with egg wash and gently place second ball on top of filling. Press and pinch edges to seal completely. Poke a few holes on top with a knife or fork; generously egg wash the top crust, sprinkle with seeds and bake in oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve. Serve with dollop of yogurt sauce.

 

The story behind this recipe
To journey beyond travel, experience a new culture - that is what I seek when I go tripping. I consider myself an independent traveller, but have learned foreign experiences are elevated by the use of a good travel company. JBT in Morocco delivered on their promise, from leading us through the souks of Marrakesh to wandering the ruins of Volubilis, hiking across the Middle Atlas mountains with the sheep and goat herders to sleeping in a tent in the Sahara near our dromedaries. But in the end, it is always about the food; diving in and being completely immersed in the food culture, it was cooking with local women in this Muslim country that evoke my best memories.

I spend hours researching what unique foods I cannot miss in any country and in Morocco, one was medfouna, available in only not just Morocco, but only one specific region. Medfouna is the specialty of Rissani, a city in the Ziz Valley, known as home to the Alaouite Dynasty, the Moroccan royal family and bordering the Sahara desert. Miles upon miles of flat brown landscape are dotted by oases of palm trees that grow delicious dates the region is famous for between groups of dirt kasbahs, built to protect families during unscrupulous times. In one of these kasbahs lived Tata, our desert guide, and his 17 family members. It was here that we were taught to cook medfouna (meaning "buried") in a clay oven with a fire fed only by dried palm fronds. The treasure buried inside this golden baked wheat crust is a rich savoury blend of meat, spices and herbs. It is also known as Berber pizza. The native Berber people occupy this region and entire families, TRUE nomads, roam the desert, setting up home wherever they spot green grass to feed their animals, building a sand oven to bake their bread and medfouna, playing their drums and singing each other to sleep under the star filled skies.

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