Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Moroccan tagine of kabab maghdour - Betrayed kebab with fried or poached eggs

Kebab maghdour has to be one of the easiest tagines one needs to learn in Moroccan cooking. It's the "Last minute" tagine if you need to feed unexpected guests and it's one of the first recipes we learn as junior cooks. The meat is cooked to tenderness and is served in a thick sauce, then topped with fried eggs (or poached).



I have to say, it's easy to do so because we've seen our mothers making it quite frequently so it's not a big deal to remember how to do it. Every time guests came for dinner without warning, this dish was more likely to be served.

Before we get on with the recipe and its variations, it's worth knowing what the name refers to. 

Kebab in Morocco refers to skewers of meat (all sorts) or fish in cubes. It's the cousin of shish kebab and not doner kebab we're talking about here. It'a also not Kebab as Egyptian intend it in their famous tasty kebab we kofta combo. 

Now that we know what kebab means, let's get on with the second word.



"Maghdour" in Arabic means betrayed. Now two stories are known to explain the reason this word is used. One of them is because we can use bones left after boning meat intended for real kebab. So they would have been stripped from most of their meat, leaving only the illusion of taste while the meat is hardly there. 

However, the most famous story behind the name is that meat, instead of being char-grilled and served on skewers, it ended in a tagine or pot with a sauce to feed more people than what kebab skewers would have. With this idea in mind, it could be:

1- char-grilled halfway only to cook the meat from outside then transferred to the pot for the rest of the cooking. In this case, make sure you used the most tender part of meat such as tenderloin.

2- cooked in a pot or tagine from scratch.



There is a variation of kebab/kabab maghdour with bones (you could use ribs) but it's not very common as much as the one with cubes. 

As for the meat, it could be tender meat or meat for stewing, the only difference it makes is the time of cooking to serve it tender (no, never medium or rare). It could be lamb or beef. You can even have chicken or turkey although these two are fairly new.

As far as the fat used is concerned, we have a version with a mix of vegetable and/or olive oil and a another one with butter called "kebab messahhed". the latter requires less onions and is perfect for leftover kebab skewers (from a previous meal) which would have been properly char grilled ..

I know that some recipes call for kebab maghdour to be cooked twice: char-grill kebab and set aside while the meat is still tender to give it that smoky flavour before adding it to the pot for the second part of the cooking. But if you can't do that, I suggest you use a bit of smoked paprika in the mix just use smoked paprika or liquid smoke or anything of that sort.

Finally, you can either serve this kebab maghdour :
- without eggs on top,
- with fried eggs (fried separately then added before serving)
- with poached eggs (best done when you serve this recipe in a tagine or a gratin dish)

Now let's get to the recipe. 



While most of the kebab meghdour recipes don't call for ginger, our family recipe does. However, cumin and a hint of cayenne are not usually part of it but I like to add them both for taste.


Ingredients
Serves 6-8
Prep: 10 min - cooking: 25-90 min (depending on which meat used)

Meat and its marinade
  • 1 kg cubes of meat about 2 cm thick (from the sirloin or tenderloin, veal or lamb or beef)
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, grated (ideally, for its water as well)
  • 1/2 tsp of ginger 
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 ground pepper (black or white or mixed)
  • 3 to 4 tbsps of chopped flat leaves parsley
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil
Onion sauce
  • 2 medium-size onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 3 tbsps mix of vegetable and olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of ginger 
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin (optional)
  • 1 tbsp of paprika (I use half sweet smoked paprika and half regular paprika)
  • 2 tbsps of parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp of smen

Garnishing and finishing
  • 3 to 6 eggs ( or half to one per person)
  • 4 to 8 tbsps of oil for frying (not needed if you are going to poach the eggs)

Preparation

Marinate the meat ahead of time for 1 hour or overnight. If you are using tenderloin, optionally char-grill it for a few minutes and keep it pink from inside. Set aside.

In a hot pot or a tagine, mix all ingredients and place over medium heat, covered. Stir from time to time.

Wait until the onion has cooked and became very tender. Add the meat and stir. Cover and let simmer on medium heat, so the meat cooks to tenderness and the sauce reduces to a thick consistency.

Adjust the seasoning at the end.

Before serving, fry the eggs separately in hot oil and garnish the kebab maghdour with them.

Alternatively, you could poach them directly in the hot simmering sauce. Just add them a couple of minutes and try to spread the egg white by pocking it and inserting it delicately into the sauce. Add the eggs just before you plan to serve the dish and make sure to cover the pot or tagine so they coagulate from the top as well..

Serve kebab maghdour hot.


Notes

1/ There are a few versions of kebab maghdour depending on families and regions. It's perfectely ok to add a cinnamon stick to the sauce, turmeric (in this case, paprika is not needed), a knob of butter to the oils for richness. 

2/ Vinegar can also be added while the meat is marinating, especially if you are going for chicken or turkey meat (which is a new version of kebab maghdour).

3/ You can add a few spoons of water to the sauce while simmering if you think you're not done cooking and the pot is drying from it's sauce..However, this dish should be served with a reduced sauce, so keep it in mind


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