Cuisine of Maghreb

This recipe packs a punch of heat and nutrients into one easy dish! The basis for it’s heat is a North African condiment called Harissa, which is Tunisia’s main condiment and export. This spicy paste is a staple in the Maghrebian cuisine (North African cuisine) that includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania, all of which are located along the Mediterranean Sea. A mixture of red hot chili peppers and seasonings – cumin, caraway, coriander, and garlic – it ranks 40-50,000 SHU (Scoville heat units). For comparison, a jalapeno only ranks 2,500-4,000 SHU!

Chile peppers contain an alkaloid compound called capsaicin which gives peppers their bold character. Studies have shown that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic, and analgesic properties. Surprisingly, peppers provide a good amount of vitamin C, which is essential for collagen synthesis. Collagen is necessary to maintain skin, bone, blood vessels, and organs.

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Trace Mineral Trio

Additional ingredients balance out the heat in this recipe and provide a good amount of protein and trace minerals. Chickpeas, a legume known as garbanzo beans in Spain and cece beans in Italy, provide protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. They provide a significant RDA percentage of the trace mineral trio (copper 29%, iron26%, and zinc 17%), as well as manganese, 84%. Manganese, also a trace mineral, assists in metabolism, bone density, and the prevention of oxidative damage from free radicals.

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Soybean Power

Another power-punch of protein, fiber, and vitamin C comes from the inclusion of the soybean, or edamame. One-half cup of edamame has 11g of protein and 9 g fiber. Additionally, soybeans contain a phytoestrogen called isoflavones which work with certain proteins in protecting from osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer.

Edamame is an excellent source of protein and is often served in restaurants as an appetizer, lightly blanched and prepared with sea salt. It’s a perfect way to add protein to a soup, stew, or casserole. Some grocers now carry individual “single snack size” pouches of edamame, perfect to toss in the microwave for a healthy mid-afternoon snack.

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Moroccan Stew (serves 4)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, sliced

2 tablespoons Harissa

1 can lite coconut milk

4 cups vegetable broth, or water

1 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, drained

1 1/2 cup edamame, rinsed

2 cups brown basmati rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric

3-5 cardamon pods

Salt

Directions

  1. Preheat skillet with olive oil on medium-low heat.
  2. Add cardamon pods, onion, and pepper; saute until semi-tender.
  3. Add Harissa, garbanzo beans, and edamame to onion mixture.
  4. Add spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric.
  5. Add coconut milk; allow mixture to simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  6. Add rice to mixture and stir thoroughly*.
  7. Add broth or water, cover tightly and simmer until rice is tender.

Recipe Notes

  • In this version, we used basmati rice; however, in keeping true to the Maghrebian cuisine, couscous would be the more traditional ingredient. Additional items that would work well in this dish are mushrooms, yellow bell peppers, or sliced carrots.
  • If preferred, an additional protein may be added to the recipe, such as chicken, beef, tofu, or jackfruit. Simply sauté the protein and set aside, then prepare the stew and add the protein back in to simmer.
  • *Another method is to cook the rice (or couscous) separately; then spoon the stew over rice or couscous.

 

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