Shabbat dinner at my mom’s is like Thanks Giving at Martha Stewart. The dining table is packed with enough food to feed a village. My mom is actually Martha minus the luck. Her home-cooking and entertainment skills are pretty impressive.
Unlike most Moroccans, my mother is frugal with spices but generous with herbs. Her Moroccan food is delicate, fragrant and esthetic.
It’s fascinating to watch her cook. The stove and counter are always spotless, even when she cooks ten things at the same time. Sometime I’m not sure if I am really her daughter.
The best thing about Friday in a Moroccan home is Friday’s lunch sandwich, which is Lechem Bait (home bread) stuffed with one or two Moroccan cooked salads such as Matbucha, babaganush or warm olive salad and chicken or meatball that were braised with peas, celery, fennel, zucchini or artichokes.
Lechem Bait (Homemade bread)
Warm olive salad is one of the best. It’s made with Syrian bitter and cracked olives that were boiled three times in water to remove the bitterness, then cooked with tomatoes, cilantro and spices.
The easiest way to remove the pits is to crack them with a mag or rolling pin (see pic above). Bitter Syrian olives work the best because they are hard and don’t fall apart when you cook them.
Cooked Olive Salad
- 1 can Syrian cracked olives or green pitted olives
- 2 to matoes - peeled and diced
- Handful cilantro - rinsed carefully and chopped roughly
- 2 medium garlic cloves - pressed
- 1 tablespoon avocado or canola oil
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- dash of white pepper
- Pit the olives (if the olives are not already cracked, crush them with a rolling pin and remove the pits - this is the only effortful part.
- If you are using Syrian or any bitter olives you need to boil them at least twice in water for 2 -3 minutes, to get rid of the bitterness.
- While you boil the olives put the rest of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Drain the olives and add them to the saucepan, give them a quick stir and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it cool completely before you serve or store it in the fridge. They are better after they are cold and set in the sauce for a few hours.