Fragrant Moroccan Vegetable

A not at all hot, but very fragrantly spicy vegetable tagine. Lets hope that The Bandit and Octavia’s Daughter like it. If they don’t, their warm jackets and car keys are just to hand.

What was in the fridge and might just be in yours:

  • 2 courgettes – thickly sliced
  • 1 sweet potato – cubed
  • 1/2 a medium aubergine – cubed
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and segmented
  • 1 medium tomato – cubed
  • 1/2 a cup of your favourite olives
  • 1 small preserved lemon – chopped
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of miso
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of crushed dried chilli
  • 1 cup of boiled water
  • Olive oil

For making a party in your tagine:

  • Pre-dissolve the miso in the hot water
  • Mix everything into the tagine
  • Bake at inferno setting for 45 minutes

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

A superior Morrocan Hommous

Subtle variety is the reason that the masses trawl happily up and down the aisles of the supermarket, dazzled by the almost endless variations of milk, bread, snacks. This then is “Superior Moroccan Hommous” – as opposed to “Lesser Not-Moroccan Hommous”.

Bushra tells it like it is, “Hommous should not be made with tahini. All these people, they put tahini in their hommous. Is no good. Makes you feel urgh-agh-ugh-ugh [for full effect, clutch your stomach and try to look as bloated as possible at this point]. These Greek people, these Lebanese, these whatever, they don’t know that they are doing. Not like that in Morocco. We make the best hommous. No tahini. Chick peas….yes. Olive oil…yes. Garlic…yes.A pinch of cumin…yes. And it must be Morrocan cumin, not tthat terrible Indian cumin! A pinch of salt. Lemon juice. Blend and blend until smooth. More olive oil if you need, more lemon juice if you need.”

Bushra might just be ever so slightly opinionated on this topic. She is however right that this variation makes for a lighter hommous.

Black bean and sweet potato tagine

Black beans and sweet potato seem to like each other. The orange of the potato seems brightened against the black backdrop of the beans, while their flavours and consistencies are complementary. This is a very simple dish to make – say 15 minutes preparation time, and then between 45 and 60 minutes to bake. Put the oven on to preheat while you prepare everything else, and it will speed cooking time significantly if you place the empty tagine in the oven as it preheats. While the tagine heats up The VegHead meanwhile lumps all the ingredients into a bowl, which I then just empty into the tagine when ready.

  • 2 cups of cooked black beans
  • 1 medium orange sweet potato – cut a few strips and then dice the rest
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 small preserved lemon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of your favourite olives
  • 1 courgette; quarter lengthways and then halve those lengths giving eight slices
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of Ras-El-Hanout
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • generous amount of olive oil
  • (Optional) 1 small tomato, sliced
  • Aside from the courgette and the strips of sweet potato, mix all other ingredients and slop into the tagine
  • Arrange the courgette and sweet potato slices spoke-like around the top of the tagine, with the skin facing upward. Arrange the tomato slices between the spokes.
  • Add enough water to almost fill the base of the tagine
  • Bake in a hot oven for 60 minutes

Golden cous-cous

Food trivia: the name “cous-cous” is a wonderful example of a circular onomatopoeia. Cous-cous is traditionally cooked in a Couscousier – which is basically a fancy cous-cous steamer. As the couscousier cooks the cous-cous (try saying that after a few drinks) the sound of the steam escaping makes a “cous” sound, lifting the lid off the pan. The lid repeatedly lifts and falls “cous….cous…cous…cous…”. Thus the couscousier gets its name from the cous sound, which gives its name to the cous-cous, which is cooked in the couscousier.

But not in my kitchen it doesn’t, as the VegHead doesn’t own a couscousier. On other occasions a standard two level vegetable steaming pan has sufficed, with the top pan lined with a light cotton cloth. This recipe however doesn’t use that method of cooking cous-cous at all, which just goes to illustrate that random ramblings into obscure kitchen lore don’t necessarily have anything to do with the recipe that follows.


  • One dry cup of “quick” cous-cous – which is the way most people will buy it. According to the packet I buy, this is meant to be prepared by simply adding an equal quantity of boiled water and allowing it to sit in a covered bowl for five minutes. Ignore that instruction; the manufacturers don’t know what the hell they’re talking about…
  • Two cups of cold water
  • One cup of chopped broccoli florets
  • A few fine slices of onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet, light miso (pre-dissolve in a little boiled water)
  • 1 teaspoon of tumeric powder (actually 1 teaspoon of fresh, grated tumeric root is much better if you have it)
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika powder
  • 1 small clutch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Olive oil

To make:

  • In a medium sized saucepan, stir about 1 tablespoon of olive oil through the dry cous-cous
  • In a separate pan, lightly saute the onion and broccoli in olive oil, together with the paprika and tumeric.
  • These first two steps can be done ahead of time, and the rest done in 5 to 10 minutes just before you want to eat…
  • Add the sauted ingredients to the cous-cous, together with the two cups of water and the miso. Mix thoroughly with a fork.
  • Cover the pan and cook on a very low heat (the cous-cous will take up the water very quickly so keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t stick). Keep “fluffing” it with a fork to ensure it doesn’t bind into one big, fat, orange lump.
  • Once the cous-cous has taken up the water (2 or 3 minutes at the most), turn off the heat and leave it covered for a few more minutes
  • Serve into a prewarmed bowl, stirring through the chopped parsley.

Bean and lemon tagine

As the name would suggest, this is a very beany tagine and as such is quiet a heavy meal. It is thus best served with Golden Cous-Cous (which has some vegetables in it) in order to round out the meal. This recipe serves four people.

What goes in:

  • 800 grams (or so) of cooked haricot beans (or pinto, or half and half of each)
  • 2 small preserved lemons; chopped
  • 1 small onion, halved lengthways and finely sliced
  • 2 largish cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika (smoked paprika is a traditional spanish spice)
  • 1 tablespoon of crushed black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of sweet, light miso (dissolve in boiled water)
  • A clutch each of fresh parsely and coriander, chopped.
  • A generous splash of olive oil

The making:

  • Prehead oven to high, and preferably preheat the empty tagine
  • Mix all ingredients into the tagine
  • Add boiled water to below lip of tagine bowl
  • Bake on high for about 1 hour

Rose harissa paste

This recipe makes between 150 and 200 grams of harissa paste.

What goes in…

  • 100 grams of dried red chillies (or 120 grams of fresh red chillies)
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup of edible fresh or dried rose petals (or 1/4 cup of dried petals)
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon of sea-salt
  • Olive oil

A note on the rose petals… If you happen to have a garden full of blooming roses, and they have not been sprayed with anything nasty, then simply add about one rose worth of fresh, fragrant, red petals. Another source of culinary rose petals might be a high-end tea shop (make sure it is 100% rose petal, not rose-infused tea). An alternative might be culinary rose essence. Steer clear of dried rose petals that are designed for pot pourri as they have probably had perfume added to them. Similarly, stay away from shop bought “fresh” roses as they have most likely been sprayed. The provenance of the rose is therefore very important and if you’re not 100% sure – do not add this ingredient at all.

To make..

  • In a covered pan, boil the chillies (minus the stems) in a very small amount of water for about 5 minutes. If there is any water left, drain it off and discard. Advisable to have the kitchen extractor fan on high when you’re doing this as the steam can be brutally spicey to pets, loinfruits, and those with a tender sense of smell. Do not ever, ever, ever allow all those chillies to burn or you’ll have to be put into an oxygen tent for the remainder of your life. This is a drag, as you’re only ever allowed to suck grey protein mush through a straw if you’re in an oxygen tent.
  • Blend (BaMix baby) to a smooth paste, adding olive oil to achieve the right consistency.
  • Place in a jar, drizzled with more olive oil to seal it.

Will keep in the fridge for at least two months.