The idea behind writing a blog for Pineapple Barn is to share with you a few of the little things that I have really enjoyed doing, eating, drinking, making, reading, as well as little places I have enjoyed visiting.
You are bound to be familiar with alot of the topics I write about, but I am hoping that each time you will also come away having read about something new and interesting.
I don't know about you, but over the years I have managed to build up a sizeable collection of recipe books and it wasn't until very recently whilst I was looking for some domicile inspiration, I rediscovered my copy of Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen.
Flicking through Rachel's recipes, I came across her vegetarian Moroccan Chickpea Tagine and tried it out on my parents' who came to visit during the Easter holidays. Needless to say the dish was a huge hit, to the point where my mother, quite unusually, went off and an ordered herself a copy of the recipe book!
The word “tagine” means a slow simmered stew of northwestern Africa cooked in a covered earthenware pot. Chickpeas themselves are an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, fibre, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Apart from being nice and easy to put together, with not much prep to do (apart from chopping onions), it is really quite tasty and makes a great warming lunch on a cold day or for an easy supper mid week. It is also the sort of dish which is ideal to make for a large lunch or dinner party, especially as, like a stew, you can make it ahead of time.
So if this sort of dish appeals to you, have a go yourself and let me know what you think of the result in the comments below.
Moroccan Chickpea Tagine
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (peeled and crushed or finely grated)
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
50g dried apricots (halved)
50g pitted dates (halved)
1 large pinch of Saffron threads
2 tbsp honey
100g baby spinach leaves
100g flaked almonds (toasted)
Lemon or lime wedges
250g thick natural yoghurt (ie Greek yoghurt)
2 handfuls of coriander leaves
2 x 400g tins of cooked chickpeas (drained)
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
Instructions: Heat olive oil in large saucepan or ovenproof dish, over a medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is completely softened and a little golden around the edges. Add the ground spices as well as black pepper and salt, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Then add the chickpeas, apricots and dates, followed by the saffron (with its soaking liquid), tomatoes and honey. Add 300 ml of water and bring to simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover with lid and leave to simmer gently for 45 mins with occasion stirring. Then take off the lid and cook for further 10-15 mins. Add the spinach leaves just 1 minute before serving.
Serve: On a bed of warm couscous, with a generous dollop of natural greek yoghurt, toasted almond flakes and a sprinkle of fresh coriander.
For me, Morocco is one of those places that I had always wanted to visit and it was only in 2015 that my husband and I managed to escape for a 3 night break to Marrakech and loved it so much that we went back for more, the next time with our children in tow, in 2016.
The high voltage colours, smells, sights are probably what hit you first. There is also something exciting wandering the rabbit warren of busy streets in Marrakech. If not a little hair raising when you have little ones in tow and trying to keep them from wandering off.
Morocco’s vibrant spices and colours.
One thing that struck us during our first visit was the sharp contrast between the hustle bustle of the Marrakech streets vs the serene calmness and tranquility of the Riad.
With so many Riads to choose from, it can be hard to know which one to go for. We did a fair amount of research via Tripadvisor and on our first visit to Morocco we stayed at Riad Nashira & Spa. It is a lovely Riad, central, quiet, with good food, a rooftop terrace and a great swimming pool to help cool off in the heat of the Saharan sun.
The main courtyard of the tranquil Riad Nashira & Spa.
On our second visit to Marrakech, when we went with the children, we stayed in a hotel outside the city centre. The experience was totally different to our previous visit and given a choice I would definitely opt to stay in a Riad in the centre of Marrakech vs a hotel outside the city centre.
TOP TRAVEL TIPS - stay in a Riad in the centre of Marrakesh; eat at Terrasses de Epices; have a rooftop drink at Nomad; visit the Spice Market; be prepared to barter in the market; download the Marrakech App.
One piece of advice, don’t visit Marrakesh during the really hot months (June, July, August). The first time we went was in mid June and it was just too damn hot!
Hope you enjoyed reading!