Monday, 9 January 2012

Express Moroccan khlii: M'quila Slaouia (Casserole from Sale)

Khlii ( pronounce Khlea’) is a kind of preserved meat that is dried for days under hot sun (which will become “quaddid”), then sort of “confit” in fat for hours until we make sure it’s ready to last for a couple of years, in its own fat. This is an old recipe, we’re talking centuries, where there was no existence of fridge and that would be one of the ways to keep the meat edible for a long period.

Due to its high fat content, the meat or the layer of spices are fished from the solid fat layer and are often mixed with other ingredients to make a full meal. We make fried eggs with it. We add it to cooked pulses such as white beans in tomato sauce, or green lentils. But my ultimate recipe using Khlii is here. One one is here, and there. It works well in quiches, with potatoes...These are recipes for cold days and followed by good hot mint tea, to help digesting.

Traditionally, meat is cut into long strips, marinated for hours in generous amounts of crushed garlic, ground coriander powder, cumin and salt. All massaged with olive oil. Then we just hang it outside for many consecutive days, bring it inside just before sunset, then repeat until it’s totally dried.

It is then cooked in a lots of cow or lamb’s fat. After that, it is fished from that pool and put in containers. A bit of fat is still necessary to cover it and helps its preservation which is could last for 1 year or more.  If the meat didn’t dry properly, it may not last for even 2 months. So you have to be sure of drying the meat properly and cooking it thoroughly.

Mquila and bread for dinner

M'quila or Mquila on the other hand is a specialty from Sale and Rabat which needs less time to be ready, there is no drying needed and it cooks relatively faster than the usual khlii. The meat has a melt-in-your-mouth texture when heated.

Consider Mquila Slaouia to be a cheat version of khlii, which need to be consumed faster than the traditional version.

Do not expect the exquisite taste of the “confit” meat but that will give you something closer. It can also keep for a couple of weeks if refrigerated and properly covered in fat (or extra olive oil).

For about 1 kg of lamb meat
Prep: 15 min - Marination: overnight - Cooking: 1 to 2 hours (depending on the method of cooking)

  • 1 kg of  lamb or beef shoulder cut into long fat strips or into small chunks
  • 3 tbsp. salt
  • 1 whole medium size head of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp of freshly ground or crushed coriander seeds 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of freshly ground cumin
  • 3 tbsps of vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 cups of white suet (cow, beef), preferebly shredded or cut into small cubes

For preservation
  • 1 cup of olive oil  or the fat from the cooking


Wash the meat, cut it into long strips, each about 10 cm length minimum and 2 cm width maximum.

Combine the ingredients for the marinade, rub the meat, wrap it and keep it for a few hours in the fridge, preferably overnight.

In a deep pot/casserole/pan, bring water and fat to a boil. Add the meat carefully (do not splash).
Cook the meat for 1 hour. Remove the meat and simmer until complete evaporation of water. Let cool and then distribute in sterilized glass jars. Seal and keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks (or freeze).

You will see that, along with the meat and the fat, the spices will form a layer, DO NOT DISCARD them, we keep them to cook impressive dishes at a later stage.


  1. I love the method of "confit" preserving. I only actually looked it up recently... call me a bit silly but I'd never actually heard of that method. I'd assumed maybe the fat would turn rancid or something after some time... this recipe looks like a lot of fun, something I'd like no doubt! I wonder if I can buy fat from my butcher... doesn't seem like something the French people here would normally request :D

  2. Oh but the French have lard, which means the do nasty things, I suggest you check with a North african butcher...

    It will become rancid if it hasn't cooked well and dried well (meat and liquid). The water has to disappear after the cooking process. That's my mother's advice.

  3. Moroccan Khlii is available for sale in the USA.
    checkout their website at

  4. Hi Shaun..Lucky those in USA, it's unfortunately not the case in other countries..

  5. Other recipes i see don't add water for the marinade.

    I assume they just marinade it in the oil and fat.

    Is water absolutely necessary for the marinade? Will the meat still preserve without it?

    1. Hi JOseph, Thanks for stopping by!

      The water is added to the meat for cooking and making sure nothing burns after cooking. If the cut used is a fast cooking one then you could do without it but other parts need extra liquid before reaching tenderness.

      As for preserving, this does not last beyond 2 /3 weeks in the fridge..unlike the classic khlii which lasts for months even outside a fridge.. However, I still use it as a substitute in rolls, meat and baked potatoes or roasted veg..

      I hope I answered to your questions..


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