Saturday, July 24, 2010

Moroccan starter recipe: purslane

Moroccan starters are usually feature cooked vegetables and a number are served to start the meal, rather like the meze of the eastern Mediterranean.

Back in February, The View from Fez gave recipes for several starter dishes (see them here) - here's another made with a common plant, purslane, that's found everywhere in Morocco - and elsewhere. It's Latin name is portulaca oleracea, and in Darija it's known as terjla.

Purslane thrives in poor soil and has a mild, lemony falvour. It has plenty of iron, vitamins and minerals. According to experts, purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other green leafy vegetable plant. It also contains vitamins A, C, and B, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. You won't find it in the supermarket, but at the herb-sellers' stalls in the medina from late spring to late autumn.

First wash the purslane really well. Remove any bruised leaves, but keep the stems as they can be eaten too. Drain well and chop.

To each cup of chopped purslane, add one whole clove of garlic, unpeeled. Steam the vegetables over water for around 20 minutes until the purslane is tender, by which time the garlic will be cooked inside its skin, too. Squeeze the garlic flesh out into a bowl and mash it with black pepper, a little cumin and a sprinkle of paprika.

Other flavourings are either a little preserved lemon skin, chopped finely, or some salt. Be careful with how much salt you use - add all the other ingredients first, dress with a glug or two of good olive oil and some pink olives, then taste to see if you need any salt.

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corrie said...

I have been looking a cooked Perslane recipe. This sound as if a dash of sumac would be nice too for that extra lemony layer. Thanks for the information. :-)

Road W. Chick said...

This is so interesting. I have seen this rather unusual plant in Vancouver BC at the Farmer's Market and have always wondered what to do with it. I will have to take a good look at these recipes and look for this item when I'm in Morocco next month.