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Romantic meal for two

Tea glasses and sequinned heart

Romantic meal for two

Contents
 

1 Occasion

2 Menu

3 Wine notes

4 Planning ahead

5 Setting the scene

6 Getting in the mood

7 Recipes

 

Occasion

The air is perfumed with the heady scent of orange blossom, the lanterns twinkling with a myriad of intricate patterns from the candles within.  Enticing food subtly spiced waiting to be served on opulent platters.  Why not create a romantic night with a difference?

Turn your home into a romantic haven and banish the miserable cold winter's night with a little Moroccan mysticism.  The subtle light and shadows created by Moroccan lanterns lit with a candle can take your breath away, the bejewelled coloured glass is a million miles from the dreary weather outside.

Menu

Mezze of zaalouk (lightly spiced Moroccan aubergines),
mechouia (char-grilled peppers and onions),
and a tomato and coriander salad

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Ras el hanout lamb

Buttery middle-eastern rice

Crunchy green salad

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Sliced oranges with cinammon

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Mint tea to finish

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Wine notes

I have listed below some of the wines I personally feel would match the food.  Having only two for dinner means you may want to find wines that will suit more than one course.

  • To start - Call me old fashioned but nothing is a romantic as good champagne, bone dry and not too heavy.  Chill the glasses first and serve to start the evening; it is also perfect with the mezze.
  • Main - A spicy Zinfandel would offset the rich aromatic lamb, or a warm soft Shiraz would also work well.

Hubby's note: Alternatively, a very dry riesling would complement the main course and the dessert, with the floral aroma matching both the ras el hanout and the orange flower water.  The dry, flinty edge would act as a sharp contrast to the rich lamb, and the tangy oranges.

Planning ahead

All of these recipes can either be prepared in advance, or are ready-made so the hard work is done for you!

The zaalouk and mechouia come in a jar and just need opening and warming gently.  Transfer them to small bowls and serve with some warmed bread.  The lamb can be prepared the day before and chilled until needed: just add the honey and reheat to finish.

Setting the scene

Candle light, warm and sensual colours, the twinkle of gold or silver.  Forget about the freezing night with the warming colours of Morocco, rich golds, sumptuous red, sensuous purple, turn the lights down low and light the fire.

The golds and reds of a silk throw draped over a cosy sofa for two.  A few small lanterns on the table twinkling with candle light and colour will set a romantic scene.

Turn your home into a perfumed riad courtyard with our room scenting oils of jasmine or orange blossom.

Getting in the mood

Make yourself feel like a Moroccan princess (or prince), banish the freezing winter nights by soaking in a bath scented with amber and musk this heady sensual mix is a sure way to turn your mind to romance.

Slip on a pair of babouches, these Moroccan slippers made from the softest leather are just the comfiest thing to have on your feet and, being sequined, there is something rather decadent about them.

But most of all smile and have fun.

Tomato and coriander salad

This lively salad is ideal as part of a mezze, and works just as well with main dishes: make plenty for your mezze and it can double up with your main course.



6 tomatoes, chopped. If the skins are tough you can peel them
1/2 cucumber, seeds removed and chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Juice 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp good olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix the lemon juice oil, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.

2. In larger bowl mix the coriander, tomatoes and cucumber together.

3. Pour over the mixed oil and lemon, and leave for 5 to 10 minutes.

Serves 4

Ras el Hanout lamb

This simple dish is a great recipe to try, the complex flavours of the Ras el Hanout are very different.  Not a quick dish, but not difficult. The quantities of the spice make the dish quite spicy, if you like something milder, you may wish to half the spice mix the first time you make it.



2 tbsp of olive oil
500g (1lb) lean lamb cut into bite sized chunks
2 large onions chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
30g (1oz) sliced almonds toasted
2 tsp Ras-El-Hanout spice blend
2 tbsp honey
1 pint of vegetable stock
salt and black pepper

1. Add the oil to a large saucepan or deep-sided frying pan and fry the onions and garlic until brown.  Set aside.

2. Fry off lamb until coloured, add onions and garlic back into the pan.

3. Add Ras el Hanout, salt and pepper stir well to coat everything.

4. Add vegetable stock and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes.

5. Add the honey and continue to cook for 30 minutes, until the lamb is very tender.

6. Serve with rice and scatter the toasted almonds over as you serve it.

Serves 4

Maroque rice

This recipe has been adapted from an Egyptian way of preparing rice.  The light, buttery texture is a perfect accompaniment to tagines.



a knob of butter
200g basmati rice, rinsed well
200ml vegetable stock
salt to taste

1. Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan and add the rice.  Stir the grains well to coat in the butter and heat until the grains look a little translucent.

2. Add the vegatable stock, stir well to ensure it is well mixed, over a fairly high heat, bubble until all the moisture has evaporated from the top of the rice and small pits can be seen on top of the rice.

3. Turn the heat to its lowest setting and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Leave to steam gently for about 15 minutes.

4. Stir the rice, lifting the cooked buttery grains off the base of the rice and stir this in (the deep golden, crunchy base of the rice is traditioanly refered to as the 'bottom' and is offered to the honoured guest).  Put the lid back on at an angle and leave to cook for another 5 minutes or so.  This will produce another layer of the crunchy buttery rice, and will also dry the rice out a little making it very light.

5. The rice is ideal served just warm.

Serves 2, but easily adjusted by allowing 100g of rice and 100ml of stock per serving

Oranges with cinnamon

This classic Moroccan desset is a light palate-cleasing end to a Moroccan meal.



6 large oranges
2 tsp orange flower water
4 tsp icing sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
mint sprigs, to decorate

1. Peel the oranges, cutting away all of the pith.

2. Cut the oranges across into fine slices and arrange on a plate.

3. Drizzle over the orange flower water, sprinkle over the icing sugar, and dust with half of the cinnamon.

4. Chill well before serving.  Just before serving dust with the remaining cinnamon and decorate with a few sprigs of mint.

Serves 4

Mint tea



300ml (1/2 pint) water
5 tsp sugar
1 tsp Maroque mint tea blend
 
OR
 
300ml (1/2 pint) water
5 tsp sugar
1 tsp green tea
bunch of fresh mint leaves

1. Bring the water to the boil.  Put the sugar and the mint tea (or green tea with fresh mint leaves) in a small traditional Moroccan tea pot, and add the boiling water.

2. Leave to steep for 5 minutes, serve hot.

Makes enough for 2 glasses

printed from www.maroque.co.uk