Begin the Tajine!
Hanukkah is a time for enjoying Jewish culinary traditions with family and friends, and to that end we present a daily competition between Ashkenazi and Sephardic food, going up around sunset on the first seven days of Hanukkah – and presenting a wrap-up as the sun goes down on the eighth day. Whose food is the most appealing? Help us decide with your comments and social media shares.
Before the advent of Israel, the population of Morocco was over 20 percent Sephardic Jews, and they had a profound effect on the Berber nation’s sumptuous foodways. Indeed, Moroccan fare is some of the world’s tastiest.
One of that cuisine’s cornerstone’s is the tajine, a long-braised stew cooked over a fire in a conical clay pot. The clay absorbs much of the heat, and the braise is low and slow.
The strength of the tajine lies not only in the tenderness of its meat, poultry or fish, but also in the subtlety of its flavorings. Salt-cured lemons, powdered ginger, green and black olives, aromatic herbs, and a spice mixture called chermoula are favorites.
The fish tajine shown above (from Hell’s Kitchen’s Bab Marrakech) is a beauty. Chermoula, along with citrus and green olives, constitute the seasoning, which penetrates every molecule of the fish. Fish and chicken tajines are a couple of the favorites of Moroccan Sephardim, who first arrived after being expelled from the Iberian peninsula during the Inquisition. And they are at least partly the reason Moroccan food is superior to Spanish even today.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 12, 2012