Thursday, February 4, 2010

Layla’s Lubiya and Zween Zalug

Another installment of Cooking with Layla!

This time we’re making Lubiya, a white bean stew, and Zalug, an eggplant dish, that are as Moroccan as you can get! Vegetarians (ahem, LB and JR), this one’s for you.

At least one of these women thinks I'm funny...

Just after the afternoon prayers, you can find people (read: men) sitting in sidewalk cafes with shallow bowls of bright yellow-orange stew and deep red eggplant mush. The beans and sauce are sopped up with small loaves of round bread, and accompanied with fried sardines or other small side dishes (French fries, lentils, tomato-cucumber salad, or zalug). At my favorite hole-in-the-wall afternoon café, you can buy a bowl of Lubiya and a plate of potatoes, with bread and mint tea included, for 14 dirham (approx. $2 US). Sure, I have to shrug off all the Moroccan stares, but it’s great fun to be eating “authentic” Moroccan food in an “authentic” greasy spoon…provided the food poisoning gods are smiling down on us.
Lubiya and Zalug can be found in the food stalls
like t
hose in the Jmaa El-Fna in Marrakech

The secret to Lubiya (and many things in life) is patience. I was so quick to declare the dish finished once the beans were soft. But Layla taught me that extra simmer time allows the flavor to infuse into every bean- and she is so right! We used her pressure cooker to speed up the process, but I’ve included directions for regular stew pots as well.

1. Soak ½ kilo of white beans overnight. Rinse and drain when you are ready to get cookin’.
2. Cook the beans in 7 cups water for 40 minutes in a pressure cooker, or for 1 hour in a regular (covered) pot.
3. Meanwhile, chop 1 medium purple onion, grate 1 medium tomato, grate 3-4 cloves garlic, and chop ¼ cup parsley.
4. Add all of these to the beans after the allotted time. The beans should be softer, but not mushy, because they’re going to cook more.
5. In addition, add 2 heaping Tablespoons paprika, 1 tbsp cumin, ½ tsp black pepper, 1 small teaspoon saffron (or a couple of saffron sprigs, just for color), 1 tsp salt, and 1 large tablespoon tomato paste.
6. Add ¾ cup olive oil
7. Give all these ingredients a good stir and cook for 45 mins in a pressure cooker, or 1 hour in a regular pot.
Voila! The stew should come out thick and flavorful. It’s yummy with a dollup of crème fraiche (or sour cream, if you don’t live in a former French colony).

And now for the accompaniment: Zalug. This eggplant dish is a cross between a dip and a stew, also eaten on bread (or thick potato slices, as I prefer). The secret to THIS dish is roasting the eggplant on an open flame beforehand, both making it easier to peel and giving it a delicious smoky flavor.

1. Roast 1 kilo of eggplants (about 5 small eggplants) over open flames until soft. When the skin gets wrinkly, throw them in a plastic bag so that the steam collects and helps to peel the skin from the insides.
2. In a large marmite, add:
- 3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- ½ Cup chopped cilantro
- 4 cloves grated garlic
- 2 large Tablespoons paprika
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp salt
- ½ cup olive oil
3. Peel the eggplant under running water. Cut into chunks and add to pot.
4. Mix and smoosh eggplant into thick paste
5. Cook approx. 30 mins. Pass out from the delicious smell.

These are both great, hearty, winter, vegetarian foods…perfect for the cold Fessi weather. Cheap and easy to make in large amounts and save. And the best part: they get more and more yummy each day.

Bon appétit!


Anonymous said...

I'm gonna try this!

wendy said...

Anonymous=Wendy (in this case) Sorry I didn't sign my name.