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Truly finger lickin' good

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Poulet grillé with frites
You didn't think I was done with Morocco, now did you?

Spit-roasted or rotisserie chicken must be one of the greatest inventions in history. Clean a chicken, season it, impale it on an iron rod and in the old days, keep turning the spit by hand over an open flame or embers until its juices run clear, the skin is golden and the flesh tender and succulent. Tear off and eat with fingers.

With the advent of the electric rotisserie which roasts several chickens at once, there may be less smoke but the distinctive taste of meat cooked over fire remains.
Roasting chicken on an electric rotisserie at Cafe Snack Majorelle, Casablanca, in a lovely French Art Deco building
Pardon the use of the tagline from a certain fast food chicken chain, but this here is the real deal.

For those going to Morocco and Casablanca in particular, here's a word of advice: If you go to a restaurant that serves this kind of grilled chicken (it will have a rotisserie out front), then order the chicken. It will be the restaurant's speciality and the best dish in the house. You can order a quarter piece with French fries, or the meat sliced and with a crusty baguette or thin flat bread for you to fill yourself. The reason I say that is, we went to Cafe Majorelle twice; the first time, I ordered the chicken (the picture at the top) and on the second time, I got the beef tagine, which was delicious but not as good as the chicken.

(Not looking like the locals, we were remembered by the staff at the restaurant and when we came by the second time, we were greeted with great affection as if we were regular patrons. Truly lovely people, these Moroccans. The restaurant is manned by elderly gentlemen and one of them, I swear, was the dopplegänger of that suave, debonair David Niven! So handsome.)
 Tangy tomato relish, and lentils to eat with rice. Salad niçoise with a mountain of vegetable
At Cafe Majorelle, the side dishes are just as good. There's braised lentil that you eat with rice as a starter and a tangy tomato dip that goes well with the chicken.

And take a look at that salad niçoise. It's huge ­­– dinner plate size ­­– and comes with a hard-boiled egg and eight types of vegetables: shredded cabbage and carrots, corn kernels, cubes of beetroot, olives, potato, and cucumber on a bed of lettuce. You can have it with or without mayonnaise.

I couldn't get the recipe out of the chef, but here is one version of the roasted chicken using a mixture of spices that I bought. The blend only had a few spices compared with some with over 30! It's good for chicken or fish. The vendor kindly told me what was in it along with a rough and easy recipe. I haven't actually tried it yet, but I don't see why it wouldn't work.

1 whole free-range organic chicken 
½ cup olive oil  
2 tablespoons lemon juice  
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste 

Dry spice mix 
1½ teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted 
1½ teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted 
¼ teaspoon turmeric 
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of chilli powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
  • Grind cumin and coriander seeds in a mortar or spice grinder. Combine with the remaining spices. This makes about 3 tablespoons. Store in an airtight jar.
  • Combine 1 tablespoon of dry spice mix with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Butterfly the chicken and place inside a large resealable plastic bag. Rub the skin and the inside with the marinade. Seal the bag and and place in refrigerator for at least one hour. 
  • Preheat oven or barbecue grill. Grill chicken for about 20 minutes or until done. Set aside covered with foil for 15 minutes before serving.

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