Before I depart for my native city of Liverpool for the weekend, I am going to have one last attempt to try to bring North Africa on board.
In the past 3 months I have reached 11 countries in 4 continents, but none in Africa.
As France is very closely linked to the ‘Margheb’ (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia to us Anglo Saxons) as the UK is to India (there as many cous cous restaurants in Paris as there are Indian restaurants in Liverpool and the French eat tagines as Brits eat vindaloo………..)
I have so far posted one tagine (Moroccan fish tagine) and one Moroccan dessert (orange a la Moroccan!), and this evening I made this lovely fragrant ‘ragout’ served with lemon and coriander cous cous.
I developed a liking for Moroccan cuisine while eating with the family that we were staying with in a Riad in Marrakesh, and will, as time goes by, post more Franco/North African dishes.
I do not actually own a ‘tagine’ as I do not have the space to keep one (more on my ‘little Paris kitchen’ to follow!) But this dish only takes about 30 minutes from the first slice of a shallot to table, so all you need is a large frying pan with a lid.
A lot of people have questioned whether I cook like this on a daily basis, seeing that I sometimes work long hours when you factor in the time it takes me to commute from one end of Paris to another, plus being a teacher I often have marking to do and reports to write in the evenings. The answer is YES. I love cooking (and eating – word of caution – food blogging makes you fat!)
But a lot of my recipes begin with the prefixes ‘cheat’s’ or ‘quick’ or ‘simple’, so many of them are achievable with minimal time and effort – but maximum taste!
This ‘simple’ ragout is one of those dishes, perfect to put together quickly after a busy day at work – no excuse for resorting to microwave meals……………..
(see blog post on ‘Tuna pasta bake’ and ‘Roasted red peppers and Paris Markets’for a little note on cultural differences to food shopping in France)
Ingredients Serves 2
300g of large raw prawns (fresh or frozen – I use a 280g pack of Marks and Spencer fresh ‘Honduran’ King prawns, which are ‘responsibly sourced’ and have a ‘sweet flavour and a firm, meaty but succulent texture’)
1-2 shallots, (depending on size) finely diced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 good teaspoon of fresh ginger, finely chopped
400g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes (not watery cheaper supermarket brands)
1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin
1 level teaspoon of paprika (I use ‘piment de espellete’ – see ‘spicy red vegetable Mediterranean soup’ for information on this spice)
1 level teaspoon of turmeric
2 level teaspoons of Harissa paste
The juice of half a lemon
A good glug of olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large frying pan
Gently sweat the shallots for 2-3 minutes, taking care not to brown
Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook very gently for a further minute
Add the cumin, turmeric and Harissa paste and gently cook while stirring until all the vegetables are coated
Add the tomatoes plus half a can of water, bring to simmering point, and simmer gently, uncovered for 20 minutes
Season with salt and pepper to taste
Stir in the prawns and cook, uncovered until they are opaque and cooked through
Remove from the heat and squeeze over the lemon juice and serve immediately with Cous cous (or rice if preferred) and a nice crisp green salad
Nothing could be simpler………..