Advertisement Close

The Exotic Salads of Morocco

posted on: Apr 8, 2024

By: Habeeb Salloum/Arab America Contributing Writer

The first time that I became familiar with Moroccan salads was, in the early 1960s, at the home of a friend in Rabat, the capital of Morocco.  After we sat down for dinner on low stools around a large tray, a maid came in with our first course, a carrot dish, called shlada disjada.  This was followed by another salad, shlada madnousse – a parsley salad.  Both were delicious, but much different from the Middle Eastern or North America salads we were accustomed too in our home.  It was my introduction into the world of exotic Moroccan foods.

Moroccan salads are, in many cases, prepared from cooked vegetables and are somewhat sweet and zesty, but not spicy hot.  All of them are wholesome and simple to prepare.  In the homes of the affluent, like that of our friend, they are served at the beginning of the meal as appetizers.  However, for the poor, they are usually the main course.  

For condiments, the herbs used most often are: garlic, fresh coriander leaves, mint and 

Parsley, and for spices: aniseed, cayenne, cumin, ginger, paprika, saffron and turmeric.  To give these salads even more zest, onions, olives, pickled lemons and almonds are, at times, utilized.

Moroccan salads can be appetizers to start a meal, or entrées (main dishes), or accompaniments (side dishes) to the main courses.  They are never monotonous, since they can be altered in many ways.  In almost any salad recipe, other vegetables, herbs or spices may be substituted. 

For travellers visiting Morocco there is not much chance to try these salads.  Nevertheless, travellers should not leave the country without enjoying them in restaurants set in a converted Moorish-Andalusian palace, which are to be found in every large city.  Here, with haunting Arab music as a background, one can enjoy these tasty salads.  In such atmosphere, a deep nostalgia for that country’s food will be left with most visitors.

On the other hand, if a person cannot journey to the enchanting and fascinating land of the modern Moors, these few salad dishes will give an insight into that country’s great cuisine.  All can be served as salads, appetizers or entrees.

Broad Bean Purée – Biesar

Serves 8 to 10

2 cups large dried broad beans, soaked for 24 hours, then skinned

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

coriander leaves and pomegranate seeds 

1/2 teaspoon paprika

In a pot, place broad beans, garlic and cumin, then cover with water and bring to boil.  Cover saucepan, then cook over medium heat for 50 minutes or until beans are cooked.  Drain, but reserve the water.

Place beans and the remaining ingredients, except paprika, coriander leaves and pomegranate seeds, in a food processor, then add 1 1/2 cups of the bottom part of the reserved water with the sediment and purée.  

Place purée in a pot, then heat.  Spread on a serving platter then decorate with coriander leaves and pomegranate seeds.  Sprinkle with paprika, then serve.

Parsley Salad – Shlada Madnousse

Serves from 4 to 6

1 large bunch of wide leaf parsley (Italian), washed, stemmed and chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped 

1 medium sweet red pepper, finely chopped 

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried mint

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup black olives, pitted and halved

Place all ingredients, except olives, in a salad bowl then thoroughly mix.  Decorate with  olives then serve immediately.

Note: For a variety a large tomato, finely chopped, can be added.

Carrot Salad – Shlada Disjada

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound carrots, scraped, washed, then sliced into thin rounds

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin

l/8 teaspoon chili powder

Place carrots, garlic and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a saucepan, then cover with water and bring to boil.  Cover then cook over medium heat for 10 minutes and drain.

In a frying pan, heat oil, then stir-fry carrots over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the carrots are cooked.

In a salad bowl, mix the remaining ingredients, including the remainder of the salt.  Stir in carrots then serve hot or cold.

Black Olive And Orange Salad – Salatat  Latsheen Wa Zaytoon

Serves 4

1/2 cup black olives, pitted and halved  

4 large oranges, peeled, sectioned, and cut into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon cumin 

pinch cayenne

Combine olives and oranges in a salad bowl, then cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Mix cumin and cayenne in a separate dish then set aside.

Sprinkle cumin-cayenne combination over olive-orange mixture just before serving, then toss and serve.