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A soulful chef creates his first masterpiece
What Mourad Lahlou has developed over the last decade and a half at his Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant is nothing less than a new, modern Moroccan cuisine, inspired by memories, steeped in colorful stories, and informed by the tireless exploration of his curious mind. His book is anything but a dutifully “authentic” documentation of Moroccan home cooking. Yes, the great classics are all here—the basteeya, the couscous, the preserved lemons, and much more. But Mourad adapts them in stunningly creative ways that take a Moroccan idea to a whole new place. The 100-plus recipes, lavishly illustrated with food and location photography, and terrifically engaging text offer a rare blend of heat, heart, and palate.
Lahlou, chef and owner of the highly acclaimed San Francisco restaurant Aziza, was inspired by a large extended family, most notably his grandfather who fostered a love for food in the stalls of the Moroccan marketplace. Relocated in the U.S., Lahlou attempts to recreate from memory the beloved food of his childhood. By experimenting, he is able to replicate these meals with a twist his own take on traditional Moroccan dishes that eventually become staples in his restaurant and are highlighted in this worthy collection. For food enthusiasts unfamiliar with Moroccan dishes, Lahlou includes a handy section on key ingredients and staples of the cuisine including balsamic cranberries, pickled green strawberries, preserved lemons, and more. Of special importance is couscous, which gets a chapter unto itself. He explains the culture surrounding this central ingredient, provides a buyer s guide for those who buy commercially, and offers a lengthy section on how to roll and cook it at home. He also offers a wealth of recipes for appetizers, soups, breads including grilled flatbread and harissa rolls, fish, chicken, and lamb. Appealing side dishes include dry-fried okra with melted tomatoes, leek gratin, salt-roasted potatoes, and parsnip risotto. Lahlou provides an entertaining and appetizing guide to not only Moroccan dishes but the culture of Morocco as well and will introduce many readers to this intensely flavorful cuisine.