Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Ramadan Mubarak! I haven’t posted in awhile as the last few weeks I spent in Morocco where quite busy. And, coming back home has been a bit hectic as well. But, regardless, I'm back!
There is nothing like Ramadan in Morocco. You just get swept up in all the excitement. As you can imagine, a lot of the day is spent cooking and the culmination of our hard work is always a wonderful Iftar filled with delicious treats. After Isha’a prayer, the streets are filled with people shopping, gathering at cafes and restaurants. Cities literally awake at sunset during Ramadan in Morocco.
There are two foods that are purely of Ramadan in Morocco: Harira (traditional Ramadan soup) and Chibakias, sesame cookies dipped in honey and orange-blossom water syrup. Shaping chibakias can be a bit tricky and time-consuming but totally worth the work. Just make sure you have some helping hands. I helped my sister-in-law in Morocco make chibakias and took notes on the procedures for this recipe. Luckily we brought back enough cookies to last us throughout the rest of Ramadan but at some point I will try to make these on my own with my daughter's help. I was so thrilled with her dedication to learning the folding process with her aunt.
1 liter of water
2 kg of sugar
1 lemon cut in half
2/3 cup of honey
2/3 cup orange-blossom water
Make a sugar syrup by simmering the water with sugar and one whole lemon cut in half until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove lemon, add and stir in honey and orange blossom water. Stir until syrupy and let cool.
½ kg toasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup orange blossom water
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/3 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp ground anise
½ tsp saffron threads, grinded
A pinch of Gum Arabic Powder
½ tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp active dry yeast dissolved in about 1/4 cup warm water
A pinch of Moroccan yellow colorant or turmeric (dissolved in the water with the yeast)
1 pinch of salt
In a food processor, grind sesame seeds. Mix the ground sesame with all other ingredients except the flour. Then, add the flour, mixing and kneading with your hands to form a dough.
Divide the dough into seven parts and shape each into a smooth ball and let it rest for a few minutes.
On a lightly floured surface open dough into a thin layer using a rolling pin, then cut the dough into rectangles the size of the palm of your hand. Inside each rectangle, make four evenly spaced cuts lengthwise being careful to leave space at the top and bottom of each cut (you don't want to cut entirely from top to bottom - the cuts should be slits in the rectangle)
Folding the Chibakia is not hard but I thought that a video will more easily explain the process. Basically, you will thread your finger through alternating strips of dough. Then you will pinch together the outer corners of dough, and allow the strips of dough to slide down while gently turning them inside-out around the pinched portion. Once the the chibakia is turned inside out, pinch the opposite corners closed forming a flower.
Once you have folded all the dough, heat about 1 inch of oil in a large frying pan. When the oil is hot, fry chibakias in batches to golden. Remove from oil using a slotted spoon to drain all oil, then dip directly into syrup, allowing to soak there for several minutes.
After chibakia has soaked for about 10 minutes, remove syrup to a colander, and allow to drain for a few minutes. Gently transfer to a large plate and sprinkle with sesame.