[Sca-cooks] Khabisa with Pomegranate
lilinah at earthlink.net
Fri Mar 28 20:33:15 PDT 2008
>The distinction made here between "semolina" and "flour" that appears
>in these recipes has more to do with whether it is hard durum wheat
>or a softer "bread" wheat that is the source of the flour. They do
>result in markedly different textures and it would not be unusual to
>use both in a recipe in order to achieve a firmer texture than soft
>wheat alone or a softer texture than semolina alone.
I know when i was in Morocco, in Dec. 2000-Jan. 2001, nearly every
item i ate that was made with "flour" was semolina, hard wheat type,
or mostly hard wheat. In fact, much of the semolina flour was freshly
ground for Ramadan, so quite yellow (flour whitens as it ages).
I don't know a great deal about flours, but am i correct in assuming
that when it is first ground it is a bit moister than it will become
with aging? ...although, of course, it can absorb moisture from the
All the breads - yeasted and unyeasted, flat and risen, baked and
pan-cook - tended to a certain "firmness".
When i bought a loaf off a baker's tray in the middle of a windy path
in a medina, i was surprised by its firmness and dryness - it was
fragrant with orange flower water and anise (which i don't normally
like, but which seemed perfectly appropriate in this setting) and
topped with sesame seeds, so i expected something tender, which it
I went to meet up with my daughter, who was doing a semester abroad
in Morocco. The family she had been living with (the mother was a
nurse and the father a professor) had purchased a sack of whole wheat
berries. They then washed them clean and spread them out on their
balcony to dry - they lived in an apartment building, not a
traditional-style house - but it had a vast balcony. Once dry they
took the wheat to a miller. This was the flour they used for all the
The mother and the younger daughter (the older one was attending an
American university in Florida) then spent a great deal of time every
day kneading and kneading and pulling and stretching, then kneading
and stretching the dough some more, in a large ceramic gs'aa, glazed
on the outside, but unglazed on the inside, with very low sides
(1-1/2 to 2 inches). I really wanted one, but it would have been too
difficult to get home. They had a modern gas stove in their kitchen,
which i never saw them use. Rather, they cooked everything on a
two-burner kerosene stove sitting on a counter near a door onto the
balcony. They only used the gas stove by putting cooked food into the
unlit oven to keep it warm before serving.
The modern Moroccans have quite an array of yeasted and unyeasted
pan-cooked doughy-bready things, many of which are served with a lot
of melted butter and warm honey. (trust me, pita is so totally
inappropriate for Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian meals).
I ate Beghrir, Krachel, L'harcha, M'semmen, Mkarkach, Mlaoui,
Rghaif... then there are the regional specialties...
("r" is flapped or rolled as in Spanish or Italian, "gh" is kinda
like French or German "r" only more guttural)
I notice in reviewing modern Moroccan recipes that some use a mix of
hard wheat flour and soft wheat flour, AND work in some semolina,
some are made only with flour, and others made only with semolina so
they have a "cornmeal" texture.
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita
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