Grand­ma Elmale­h’s Moroc­can Cookbook

Lisa Elmaleh Craig
  • Review
By – January 30, 2013

Grand­ma Elmaleh’s Moroc­can Cook­book offers a tan­ta­liz­ing col­lec­tion of Moroc­can recipes that were passed down to Lisa’s from her grand­moth­er Sarah. Food writer Craig Clai­borne hailed Sarah’s sump­tu­ous table as being Moroc­can cook­ing that a sul­tan would envy.’

For much of her life, Sarah Elmaleh, Moroc­can-Jew­ish moth­er of a large immi­grant fam­i­ly liv­ing in the Unit­ed States, lived in the sea­port vil­lage of Essaouira, an ancient Por­tuguese fortress town on the Atlantic coast which even­tu­al­ly come under French rule. It was a melt­ing pot of civiliza­tions: Eng­lish, Euro­pean, Berber, Arab all lived side by side with pros­per­ous Sephardic Jew­ish mer­chants descend­ed from Italy, Greece, Turkey, Por­tu­gal, and Spain; hence her exot­ic kosher Mogador reper­toire was derived from numer­ous for­eign cultures.

Until her grand­daugh­ter Lisa sat her down, and made her share her culi­nary secrets, none of her recipes were writ­ten down.

This charm­ing book com­bines recipes, rem­i­nis­cences, and research accom­pa­nied by the authors own line draw­ings, as well as col­or pho­tos by Amani Has­san. The book is a feast for the food-ori­ent­ed read­er. The recipes range from break­fast to fam­i­ly feasts, Jew­ish hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions, and a spe­cial chap­ter on grandma’s herbal reme­dies for bron­chi­tis, stom­ach ail­ments, and liv­er ailments!

Since quan­ti­ties and cook­ing times are not always spec­i­fied, flex­i­bil­i­ty, crock­pots, and cook­ing by feel are need­ed (since these recipes were trans­lat­ed from mea­sure­ments like hand­fuls and glassfuls.’)

The recipes are easy to under­stand, most ingre­di­ents can be found in local super­mar­kets or eth­nic mar­kets, but some recipes do not tell how many serv­ings they make.

The only rule of suc­cess­ful Moroc­can cook­ing is that the end prod­uct must delight all the senses.

Recipe: Almond Cake

4 cups blanched almonds
Rind of 1½ lemons
5 eggs, sep­a­rat­ed
1 cup sugar

1. Pre­heat the oven to 350°F.

2. Grind the almonds in a grinder togeth­er with the lemon peels.

3. Beat the egg whites until the peaks are stiff but not dry.

4. In a sep­a­rate bowl, beat the yolks with the sug­ar until light and fluffy. Add the ground almond mix­ture and blend well.

5. Gen­tly fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.

6. Pour this bat­ter into a greased and floured bundt or spring-form pan.

7. Bake the cake at 350°F for 35 to 40 min­utes, or until it springs back when touched in the center.

From Grand­ma Elmale­h’s Moroc­can Cook­book by Lisa Elmaleh Craig (Hes­pe­rus, 2012).

Sheilah Kauf­man is an award-win­ning cook­book author, cook­ing teacher, food edi­tor, culi­nary lec­tur­er. Read more about Sheilah here: www​.cook​ing​withsheilah​.com

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