From my terrace in Andalucia, you can look across to the north west coast of Morocco, which always fills me with excitement and longing. Here we are in one continent, looking towards another continent, which is so close but yet so far away in terms of culture and cuisine.
It’s surprising then, really, that there isn’t more of an influence on the cuisine of southern Andalucia, given that the Moors lived here for 600 years. In 711, they invaded the south of Spain and called their land Al- Andaluz. They brought with them fruit trees of pomegranates, lemons, oranges, figs, peaches and apricots as well as almonds, saffron, aubergines, honey, spices, rice and so much more. When they were expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, almost all traces of their cuisine went with them. The land was filled with pigs so that those remaining would be forced out because there was no meat to eat. These pigs ate acorns – the rest is history.
A few local dishes feature cumin seeds – they do appear from time to time. The most popular being a tapa of carrots with cumin and garlic. I love this dish so much that we always make it in class and usually serve it with barbecued Moroccan chicken. It’s also fantastic with fish, pork and roast lamb, too. In fact, you can make it as part of a salad table or serve it with cocktail picks as it traditionally is, a tapa (known locally as zanahorias aliñadas). The wonderful intense carrot flavour comes from boiling the carrots in their skins and then peeled when cool. Don’t forget to toast your cumin seeds (dry fry in a pan) to bring out their flavour. Always serve this dish at room temperature and never straight out of the fridge.
You will need:
- 1kg of carrots gently scrubbed
- 2 cloves of garlic (root removed) finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of toasted cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon + of Sherry vinegar
- Chopped flat leaf parsley for sprinkling on top
How to make the dish:
- Pop carrots in a pan and cover with water.
- Add 2 teaspoons of salt.
- Boil until tender for approx. 20 minutes – test by using a table fork.
- Drain and leave to cool (will cool faster if spread on a tray or chopping board in a single layer).
- Peel when able to holding the carrot horizontally and scraping skin towards you, using a small sharp knife.
- Slice on the diagonal and place in bowl or serving dish and mix with remaining ingredients.
Like my Moroccan-style carrots and cumin recipe? Pair it up with the similarly North African flavours of my chickpea, orange and mint salad.