One of the popular recipes that has been circling the blogosphere since a certain film came out is Ratatouille. Since there are trillions of recipes out there by an equal number of great bloggers, I decided to take this French classic and send it to Africa. To be specific, it was recieving a one-way, first class trip to Morocco, land of one of my favourite films, Casablanca, and one of my favourite herbs, cumin.
Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. It is an annual, and it's stems grow about 20-30 cm tall. The leaves are 5-10 cm long, with thread-like leaflets. The flowers are small, and either white or pink. The cumin plant itself grows to 30-50 cm (1-2 ft) tall and it's seeds are harvested by hand. It's distinctive flavour and strong, warm aroma is due to its essential oil content. Cumin was known to the Egyptians over five thousand years ago! Seeds have been found in the Old Kingdom Pyramids at Giza. The ancient Romans and the Greeks also used it medicinally and cosmetically.
Medicinal Properties, according to The Epicentre:
Cumin is stomachic, diuretic, carminative, stimulant, astringent, emmenagogic and antispasmodic.
It is valuable in dyspepsia diarrhoea and hoarseness, and may relieve flatulence and colic.
In the West, it is now used mainly in veterinary medicine, as a carminative, but it remains a traditional herbal remedy in the East.
It is supposed to increase lactation and reduce nausea in pregnancy.
It has been shown to be effective in treating carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as diarrhea, indigestion, and morning sickness.
Cumin also shows promise as a natural way to increase breast size.
Used in a poultice, it relieves swelling of the breast or the testicles.
Cumin stimulates the appetite.
So, without further ado, I present Kamfounata, Morocco's Ratatouille!
Kamfounata (Moroccan Ratatouille)
2 eggplants, cut in 1/2- inch cubes
3 zucchini, cut in 1/2- inch slices
2 red or orange bell peppers, cut into thin slices
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
- Sprinkle the eggplants with salt and leave for 1 hour.
- Rinse and dry eggplant.
- Sauté the eggplant and zucchini slices. Add the onion and pepper and cook over gentle heat until the onion is golden and the pepper is soft.
Make the tomato sauce:
- Saute garlic until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and sugar and simmer about 20 minutes until reduced to a thick sauce.
- Add the cooked vegetables and spices to the saucepan with the tomato sauce and mix well. Remove from heat.
- Can be eaten hot or cold (actually great on crusty bread the next day!).