Authenticity is one of my biggest struggles when writing about food. I never want to say a dish is of a certain cultural inspiration for fear of bastardising the whole thing and having an onslaught of criticism for my culinary insensitivity. But this stew, I genuinely feel is Moroccan.
Don’t throw things at me.
When I make a stew, I like to make a STEW. No fussy softness and ‘calm, soothingness’ about it. I want a stew that will rip the soul from my body with every spoonful. To achieve this, it’s a stew from Morocco or nothing.
It’s a beast of stew. Some real gutsy flavours driven through the vehicle of a wonderfully spiced bean and carrot mix that us spiked with the sweetness of dried apricots. It’s a real winner of a stew that just gets better as it stands, so I suggest making a cauldron full to have sneaky bowls of throughout the week.
Start with a mirepoix – which is a fancy French word for three diced vegetables that start your dish. My mirepoix here is onions, garlic and carrots. Finely chop all three and drop into a big pan (Thanks LEON for my stewpot!) with some salt and olive oil. Sweat these until they soften.
In a bowl, combine your Moroccan flavours – a heaped teaspoon each of cumin, cayenne, paprika and ground coriander and half a teaspoon of cinnamon, ground ginger and a quarter of a teaspoon of all spice. Mix these – get a whiff, it’s like a drug – and add half now, stirring amongst your chopped vegetables.
Now add a drained can of red kidney beans and a handful of chopped up apricots. Don’t chop them too finely. You want to taste that sweet chew amongst the heat. Cook for about 5/7 minutes before pouring in a can of chopped tomatoes. Fill the can with tap water and pour it into the pot. Add a little salt, pepper and the rest of your spice mix. Stir this about, bring to a boil and drop to a gentle bubble for about 30-40 minutes.
I eat mine with some freshly chopped coriander and a velvety dollop – love that word – of sour cream, just to take the edge off.