Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Moroccan spiced honeyed Ramadan sweet: Bouchnikha and Mouarraqah

I have previously posted a recipe for Bouchnikha only this time it comes with spices and you can relate it more to its cousin griouech or mkharqa or chebbakia (here and there).

I wanted to revive the memory of our nation beloved and accomplished journalist, comedian, TV presenter and fine gourmet Abderrahim Bargach who inspired many of us, including our national treasure Choumicha Chafai (famous for her many cooking shows).

Bargach was known to be a fine gourmet who was the first to present a proper cooking show, famous for his impeccable instant french translation after his guests texts in Moroccan Arabic. But most of all, he was famous because of his presence. style and charisma, comedies and sitcoms. I personally miss all of this.

Back to todays recipe. It's relatively easy to shape bouchnikha if you happen to have a spaghetti machine but you can also cut thin rubans/strips, bring them together by pinching the ends and turning them/rolling them around the centre.




No fancy gadget needed to make the latter which is rather called Mouarraqah according to Mr Bargach's host, Mme Arsalane.

As to why it is called like that, well it's because in Morocco, we grew up using this thing called Bouchnikha as a natural toothpick. I can't really translate it into English but here is the picture. You can still find it in the old Markets all over Moroccan cities.



Ingredients
Makes about 100 pieces
Prep: 45 min - Cooking: 20 min

  • 500g flour
  • 50 ml of orange blossom water (use what’s needed to have a smooth dough ball, add more water should you need moist)
  • 1 egg
  • 90 ml of vegetable oil
  • 2 tbps of white vinegar
  • 2 tbsps of soft butter (with a 1 tsp of smen for depth)
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder 
  • 1/4 tsp of instant dried yeast. diluted in 1 tbsp of warm water (optional especially if you want to keep it longer)
  • 1 tsp of ground aniseed
  • 4 tbsps of toasted and ground brown sesame seeds, (optional)
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of ras el hanout (the one for sweet dishes)
  • A good pinch of saffron threads (dried over hot pan for 30 s and crushed)
  • A hint of yellow colouring (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp of of salt
For soaking and decorating
  • About 1 kg of clear honey (mixing different varieties will give you a better taste)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp of orange blossom water
  • 1/2 tsp of ground meska 
  • 1 liter of oil for frying 
  • Sesame seeds or fried skinned almond and crushed



Preparation

Mix all ingredients leaving the orange blossom water and water/milk until the end and adding just abput what's needed to bring the dough together.

Break the dough into about 8 balls the size of a small orange then shape each one into a sort of a small hot dog roll. Pick one and cover the others with a cling film. 

Roll by hand: roll each dough in length to no more than 1 mm thickness.

Roll using pasta machine: I start with number 7 all the way down to number 1. That's how thin the dough should be.

To make the turban-looking sweets called Mouarraqah

You need to pinch 3 strips/rubans from the top then roll them around the center and then pinch the other end and fold it underneath the center. You could pinch both ends together by placing each finger from top and bottom center then applying some pressure. Set aside.

To make the delicate bouchnikhas

Pinch the spaghetti looking strings after each 4 to 5 cm and cut the 2 opposite sides to form one bouchnikha. You also need to push them towards the center so the string sort of open up and fan out.



Carry on with the rest of the dough.

Pour the honey and orange blossom water and crushed meska in a medium-size saucepan and warm them just about enough to liquefy the honey. Set aside.

In a deep saucepan, heat the oil and fry batch by batch, they're very delicate and you need space to turn them to the other side. They'll take a couple of minutes to take a golden colour. Make sure the oil is not extremely hot to burn them either. I find that they take more time when I use an induction cooker so adjust the time accordingly. 

 Once a batch has fried to perfection, use one of those strainer ladles if you have, to get rid of excess oil then dip the fried bouchnikhas into the honey. Make sure they're well soaked.

Carry on with the next batch to fry and repeat the same thing for each fried batch.




Leave those fried sweets in honey for at least 1 hour. Strain and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds or crushed fried almonds.

Place in an airtight container and leave in a dark area for up to 3 weeks or 1 month in a fridge or 3 months in a freezer (thaw for 10 min before serving). 


Note on cooking on gas vs induction: 

whenever I use induction or electric cooker, my fried Moroccan chebbakia or bouchnikha takes longer time to fry and hence sometimes loses in texture as it hardens a bit. I just leave it for another week before serving the first batch. 



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