This month’s MENA Cooking Club feature is Morocco. The MENA Cooking Club explores the differences and similarities of the Middle East and North African countries through local cuisine. Previous entries include Algeria, Bahrain, Djiboui, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Malta.Morocco has a reputation of taking the Arabian Nights and making it their (tourist) reality. Fabrics, spices, perfumes, and (non-flying) carpets all enthrall the senses, so it comes as no surprise their sweets are rich, decadent, and sticky-sweet. My personal favorite is the gazelle horn. This makrout is a semolina cookies, stuffed with a date paste, fried, and dunked in a sugar or honey syrup. Recipe adapted from Alia.
For the dough:
2 cups of semolina
1/3 cup orange blossom water
1/2 cup melted ghee
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
For the filling:
1 cup pitted dates
1 Tbsp orange blossom water
1 tsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
For the syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp orange blossom water
Oil, for frying
To make the dough, knead all the ingredients together until the dough is formed. Wrap with cling film and set aside.
To make the filling, saute all the ingredients over medium high head for about 5-7 minutes until a date paste is formed. Transfer to a dish and set aside to cool enough to handle.
To make the makrout, divide the dough into four and roll into rods about 25 cm long. Make a tunnel down the middle then pinch the sides to create lips.
Put a quarter of the date filling into each of the semolina rolls, then enclose the filling by folding over the lips and rolling shut.
Cut the rod diagonally into separate cookies, and deep fry in hot oil until a deep golden brown. If the oil is not hot enough, the cookie might disintegrate in it.
Drain from excess oil and dunk the cookies in the cooled syrup.
To make the syrup, bring to a boil the sugar, water, and lemon juice. Simmer for 10 minutes until clear and thick. Remove from heat, stir in the orange blossom water, and set aside until completely cooled.
Note: Orange blossom-scented liquid honey can be used instead of the sugar syrup.