Tasting the tagine

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Moroccan cooking with Aneesa Waheed
By Dani Testa-Sgueglia

From the moment you enter either of the Tara Kitchen locations, you know you are in for a treat of a dining experience. You are welcomed, visually, by the pops of color and thoughtful appointment of each restaurant. Graphic displays of Moroccan textiles, bottles of wine, plants, ingredients and the owners brand of pantry and bath products add artistic interest to the unique spaces. Intoxicating smells come from the open kitchens, and of course, when your meal is served, your taste buds will delight in the layers of flavors and textures. Like everything at Tara Kitchen, you are enjoying the fruits of a thoughtfully curated labor of love.

Our team recently was invited by Tara Kitchens owner, Aneesa Waheed, to participate in her onsite cooking class. Aneesa led us on a culinary journey, introducing us to the Moroccan tagine, teaching us how to layer flavors to create an “umami bomb” and encouraging our creativity to craft our meal from ingredients like dried fruit, nuts, olives, preserved lemons, vegetables, tomato jam, aromatics and of course, her signature ras-el-hanout. The class is by reservation only and is an experience not to be missed. To learn more about Tara Kitchen, Annesa’s inspiring story or to register for a class, please go to tarakitchen.com.
431 Liberty Street, Schenectady, 518.708.3485 • 172 River Street, Troy, 518.328.6281


Beet Salad with fresh Mint and Feta Cheese

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
2 lbs beets
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Teaspoons minced preserved lemon
2 Cups orange segments
1⁄4 Cup crumbled Feta Cheese
1⁄2 Teaspoon roasted cumin
1⁄4 Teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1⁄2 Cup orange syrup (1 cup orange juice reduced by half over medium heat + 2 Tablespoons dark honey)
Salt to taste

Directions
• Put the beets on a roasting pan and cover them with foil. Roast in a preheated oven until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
• While the beets are roasting, make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the orange syrup, lemon juice, olive oil, and cumin. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
• Remove beets from oven, when they are cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut them into 1/2-inch dice. Put them in a bowl with the orange segments, feta cheese, minced preserved lemon, and mint.
• Add vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently.


Harira

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
3 Tablespoons oil
1 Medium onion
1 Tablespoon garlic paste
1 Tablespoon ras-el-hanout
1/4 lb. ground chicken
8 oz. Tomato paste
1/4 Bunch cilantro
1/2 Cup yellow lentils
1/2 Can chickpeas
1 lemon, juiced (you can add more if you like)
8 Cups water
1/2 Cup basmati rice (soaked for at least 1/2 hour)
Salt to taste

Directions
• Boil yellow lentils until tender but not overcooked.
• In a large soup pot over medium heat, cook the onions until soft and translucent.
• Add garlic paste, ras-el-hanout and sauté for about 5 minutes.
• Add ground chicken, salt, fresh cilantro, tomato paste, lemon juice and cook covered for about 15 minutes on low heat.
• Add chickpeas and lentils and cook for another 3 minutes.
• Add water, cover and bring to a rolling boil.
• Add rice and cook until soft.
• Garnish with lemon wedges or thinly sliced dried dates, serve hot!


Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
1 Tablespoon garlic paste
2 Tablespoons ras-el-hanout spice blend
2 Tablespoons olive oil for the marinade
1⁄2 Preserved Lemon thinly sliced (adjust to taste)
10 Large pitted green olives
1 Large onion finely sliced
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 Teaspoon lemon juice
8 to 10 chicken thighs cut into small pieces
1 Cup water Cooking oil Salt to taste

Directions
• Marinate the chicken with spices, olive oil, cilantro, garlic paste, preserved lemon, olives, and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours
• Coat the bottom of the casserole with cooking oil and saute onions until golden brown
• Add chicken mixture to the onions and cook for 10 minutes
• Add water
• Slow cook until chicken is done. About 15-20 minutes

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