Gnomon's Moroccan Vegetable Stew

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This is based on a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, but I've adjusted it to match better the sort of ingredients available in a UK supermarket. I've also significantly reduced the amount of salt.

This is a one pot recipe, so you'll need a big pot that you can both fry and stew things in. The dish serves 6 to 8 people, and can be served with couscous for that authentic Moroccan feel, or with rice if one of your diners is a coeliac and can't take gluten.

Ingredients

I've spaced the ingredients list into four groups to match the four stages of the cooking.

  • cooking oil (sunflower is best, but olive is good)
  • 2 medium onions (200g) finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • pinch of saffron

  • 300 ml water
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 300g potatoes chopped into chunks
  • 200g carrots chopped into chunks
  • 30g parsley (flat leaf if possible) finely chopped
  • 30g coriander leaves (cilantro) finely chopped

  • 150g sweet potatoes chopped into chunks
  • 1 courgette (zucchini) chopped into chunks
  • 100g dried apricots quartered

  • 1 tin of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Equipment

  • Big pot
  • Sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Wooden spoon
  • Sieve

Method

Step 1 - Prepare the Vegetables

Peel the onions and garlic and chop them finely. If you're handy with a knife you can chop the other vegetables as you go, but if you're slow you should prepare them in advance. Peel the potatoes. Chop the potatoes, carrots and courgette into chunks of about 1 to 1½cm (half inch). Cut the apricots into quarters. Chop the parsley and coriander finely. Don't chop the sweet potatoes yet, as they will turn black.

Step 2 - Making the Onion Paste

Fry the onions in the oil, stiring with wooden spoon, for about 3 minutes until transparent. Add garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the spices (cumin, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, saffron) and fry for 1 minute, continuing to stir. Remove from heat.

Step 3 - Stewing the Tough Vegetables

Add water, salt, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, parsley and coriander. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

When the 20 minutes are nearly up, peel and chop the sweet potatoes into 1 - 1½cm chunks. You can keep them in a bowl of water to stop them turning black if you're ready too soon.

Step 4 - Stewing the Soft Vegetables

Add apricots, courgette and sweet potato. Simmer for another 13 minutes.

Put the chickpeas in a sieve. Rinse under the tap to remove the gooey liquid. Remove any black chickpeas or detached skins.

Step 5 - Heating up the Chickpeas

Add chickpeas and simmer for another 7 minutes.

Check it's ready by poking a fork into one of the carrots. If it goes in easily then the stew is ready. Otherwise simmer it for a few more minutes.

To Prepare Couscous

Couscous is one of the easiest things to prepare. All you do is let it sit in hot water for five minutes.

  • Boil some water.
  • Weigh out 50g of couscous per person and place in a bowl.
  • Measure out 80ml of boiled water per person, pour into the bowl.
  • Swirl it around with a fork to make sure it's all wet.
  • Cover over with clingfilm.
  • Wait 5 minutes.
  • Fluff the couscous up with the fork to stop it all being in a lump.

To Prepare Basmati Rice - the Hard Boil Method

This uses lots of boiling water but is very simple.

  • Put half a cup of rice per person into a large pot.
  • Add a half teaspoon of salt.
  • Pour on lots of boiling water and bring back to the boil.
  • Boil for 10 minutes with no lid.
  • Pour into a sieve or colander in the sink.
  • Pour more boiling water over it.

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