Ras-al-hanout is a delicate spice mix from Morocco with versions seen across Northern Arica. The name literally means "top of the shelf" and relates to how the spice is made. Shop owners would take their most valued spices and mix them together to make the blend. this of course leads to the fact that the recipe varies tremendously between stores and households.
This is a lovely recipe, delicate, vibrant in colour and popping with flavour from Morocco. The chard adds earthy tones, the spices add soft scents and the preserved limes add that tart pop that makes this recipe shine. This is the perfect side dish to wow your guests and works well on any table.
This is a fantastic cookbook for Moroccan cuisine from a chef who is a master of the art. Mourad has won a Michelin star and is considered by many to be the originator of contemporary Moroccan cuisine. Bon Apetit has rated this cookbook as one of the world's best in 21011, and it remains one of my favourites. The recipes can be complex, except for a few like this one, but each recipe is divine. I have had dinner at his wonderful restaurant, Aziza, in San Francisco several times, and each time the experience has been a delight and the food outstanding.
For more recipes from this fabulous cookbook, click here.
2 large bunches of rainbow chard
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon ras-al-hanout spice powder
2 tablespoons preserved lemons, minced
Urfa pepper flakes
Strip the chard from the stems and cut the stems into 2-inch pieces. If the stems are very thick, slice them into halves or thirds longitudinally. Set aside. Cut the leaves into strips.
Bring the water to a boil with the salt. Add the chard stems and blanch for 2-4 minutes depending on how thick they are. the stems should be cooked through but not mushy. Remove the stems with a slotted spoon and cool under running water. Repeat with the chard leaves for 1-2 minutes. Again you don't want the chard leaves to get mushy.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the onion and salt, be careful the leaves and stems were cooked in salted water, and sauté on low till the onions are soft but not coloured. Add the ras-al-hanout and toss well. Add the stems and cook for 2 minutes. Add the leaves and cook for an additional 2 minutes toss all the ingredients well. remove from the heat. Add the preserved limes and mix in well. taste for salt and tartness. the leaves should have a soft aroma of the spices and a lovely tartness form the limes.
Serve immediately while still hot.