Sometimes I take inventory of all the food ingredients I have in the kitchen and whip up something using items before they perish. That is a really fun thing for me to do. For this dish I wanted something light and citrusy since I had key limes and lemons that I needed to use. I also grabbed some homemade extra-wide egg noodles and fresh chicken (legs & thighs), along with traditional Moroccan seasonings.
I absolutely love Moroccan foods. Moroccan cuisine is extremely diverse, thanks to Morocco’s interaction with other cultures and nations over the centuries. Moroccan cuisine has been subject to Berber, Moorish, and Arab influences. The cooks in the royal kitchens of Fez, Meknes, Marrakesh, Rabat and Tetouan refined it over the centuries and created the basis for what is known as Moroccan cuisine today.
Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. Although spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, many ingredients, like saffron, mint and olives, and oranges and lemons, are commonly grown in Morocco. Common spices include karfa (cinnamon), kamoun (cumin), kharkoum (turmeric), skinjbir (ginger), libzar (pepper), tahmira (paprika), anise seed, sesame seeds, qesbour (coriander), and zaafran beldi (saffron). Common herbs include mint and ‘maadnous’(parsley.)
One of the coolest and most flavorful ingredients used in Moroccan cuisine is Preserved Lemon. Preserved lemons are lemons which have been pickled in salt and their own juices. Preserved lemons are a staple in Moroccan cuisine and provide a distinct flavor plain lemons can’t recreate.
Now, I did not have preserved lemons, but I incorporated the citrus flavor with the Moroccan spices to create a very exotic meal.
Homemade egg noodles (extra-wide, store bought)
Roasted artichoke hearts
Red, orange, & yellow peppers
Fresh chicken (legs & thighs)
Fresh cream butter
Ground roasted ginger
Ancho chili pepper
First I boiled and drained the noodles according to the directions on the package, and transferred them back to the pot. I then added to the cooked noodles 3 tbls of butter, the juice of 2 key limes and 1 lemon, a small jar of the roasted artichoke hearts, sea salt (to taste), and 1/4 water. Before serving I added the sliced peppers and some fresh chopped green onion.
For the chicken, I boiled it first for about 15 minutes. The only reason I did this was because I had no idea how I wanted to prepare it…no rhyme or reason. The whole Moroccan thing came about when I looked in seasoning cabinet and started grabbing all the “exotic” stuff and adding it to the water. I kept the Moroccan theme going by draining the chicken and finishing it off in my cast iron skillet with 4 tbls butter and the juice from 2 lemons. As I said above, I didn’t have preserved lemons, but the taste was still very authentic.
The cool thing about this dish is that you need very little salt to season it. The citrus flavor of the key limes and lemon in both the noodles and chicken, as well as the strong flavors of the other spices, easily compensate for less sodium.