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A Taste Of Home


North Africa - Fact Sheet

At Voila café in Sandringham brother and sister team Merouane and Lily Rahal combine their French/Algerian background to prepare their unique style of food for their grateful customers. For A Taste of Home, Merouane shows us how to make some of his favourite food including Voila Lamb Confit with Prunes and Raz El Hanout served on a bed of Chermoula Potatoes and Sauteed French Beans.

Contacts: Voila Cafe
573 Sandringham Rd
Ph: 846 8393

4 tbsp ground cardamom
4 tbsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp ground cloves
4 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp ground cumin
4 tbsp ground coriander
4 tbsp ground macis or nutmeg
4 tbsp ground paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper

100ml olive oil
200g shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp coriander, chopped
2 tbsp mint, chopped
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch paprika
1 pinch cumin
2 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt

Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan, add shallots and cook until tender (until they have no colour). Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes then take off the heat. Add the remaining ingredients.
Chermoula can be used as a dip, a marinade or tossed with vegetables

Serves 4
16 small gourmet potatoes, sliced in half
200g French beans
4 big tbsp chermoula
2 tbsp olive oil

Boil the potatoes until tender, strain and leave to the side
Blanch the beans in boiling water for a couple of minutes, strain and cool down under cold water.
In a saucepan add the olive oil, potatoes and beans, toss until all the ingredients are hot. Add the chermoula.


2kg leg of lamb
1 leek
1 white onion
1 carrot
2 sticks of celery
2l beef stock
800g prunes - roughly chopped
8tbsp raz el hanout
30g butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup red wine
Any stalk from fresh parsley and mint
1 tbsp honey

Roughly slice carrot, onion, leeks (green bit only) and celery. Sear the leg of lamb on all sides in a hot frying pan with olive oil and butter.
Once the leg is nicely coloured, put in a roasting tray along with the vegetables, beef stock and 5 tbsp of ras el hanout.
Cover with tin foil, sealing it nicely and cook at 180C for 2.5 hrs.
Take the tin foil off and keep cooking for 30mins. Add a bit of water if the liquid is too reduced. From time to time pour the stock on top of the lamb.
Once the meat is very tender and can be flaked easily, take it out of the oven, leave to cool a bit.
Take the lamb out of the roasting tray, strain the stock and keep aside. Flake the lamb roughly, add the prunes, the remaining raz el hanout and enough cooking stock to be able to get a moist mix but not runny. Combine well.
Spread the mix onto cling film giving it a sausage shape. Roll the cling film around the mix. Leave the sausage in the fridge to be used for the next day.
Slice the lamb into 3cm cylinders, making about 4 portions (any left over lamb can be frozen and used another time)
Pan fry the cylinders gently on both sides and put aside. Add 1 tbsp of honey to the frying pan and caramelize until a nice brown colour. Add the left over cooking liquid. Cook for a couple of minutes then pour over the lamb and put in oven for 10 minutes.
Take out from oven and put lamb on top of the vegetables and pour the sauce over.

In nearby Newmarket we sample the aromatic tagines made by Algerian Markh Benyettou at his Middle Eastern restaurant Sahaa.

Contacts: Sahaa Restaurant
475 Khyber Pass
Ph: 09 523 4578

Markh also takes us to visit his favourite Halal butcher to purchase his daily supply of fresh Halal meat.

Contacts: Halal Butcher
171 Archers Rd

Chermoula Paste:
1 1/2 cups crushed garlic
1 cup ground cumin
1/2 cup paprika
3 cups olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup salt
(This recipe makes enough to be stored in the fridge for future use)

Main ingredients:
3 tbsp Chermoula Paste
1 tomato - roughly chopped
1/2 a preserved lemon
2 fillets of firm fish such as Terakihi
1 cup water

Combine all ingredients and marinade for a couple of hours. Place into the base of a heated tagine. Cover the tagine with the lid and put in oven for 15mins 220C.
Sprinkle the dish with freshly chopped coriander

Marinade ingredients:
4 tbsp honey
1 tbsp harissa
1 tbsp fresh ginger finely chopped
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp garlic crushed
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
Combine all ingredients and rub all over and inside one size 12 chicken. Leave to marinade overnight

1 red or yellow capsicum finely chopped
1 courgette finely chopped
1 carrot finely diced
6 dried apricots finely diced
1 handful of golden sultanas
1/4 cup tinned pineapple finely chopped
1 cup cooked couscous
A little chopped fresh coriander and Italian parsley

Lightly stir fry the capsicum, courgette & carrot until soft. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Stuff the cavity of the chicken. Truss or skewer the chicken so that the cavity is closed tightly. Place the chicken into a roasting dish and cover with foil, roast for 80 minutes at 200C or until the chicken is cooked. In the last 10 minutes remove the foil and brown the chicken


In Egypt the birth of a baby is celebrated with the slaughtering of a lamb and a series of rituals all based around the significant number 7.

In Auckland the Egyptian Muslim community gather together to keep the 'Sebou' tradition alive. With gifts for the baby, a series of symbolic actions and preparation of Fattah and Koshary (one lamb and one vegetarian dish) they replicate an ancient tradition and experience their own taste of home.

500g lean lamb with bones
1 large onion peeled and poked with a knife
1 large onion diced finely
10 cardamom pods
1 tsp salt 
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 rounds Lebanese bread diced
10 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tsp additional crushed garlic
3 tsp white vinegar
6 tbsp oil or butter
2 cup short grain rice
400g tin of chopped tomatoes 
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Lemon juice

Boil some water and place lamb, whole onion, cardamom � tsp salt and pepper and bay leaves in water (off the heat) until the meat is nice and soft. Dice bread to 50mm pieces, place in a hot oven until crispy. Sieve the liquid from the lamb stock and pour over the crispy bread in a serving dish.
Melt 2 tbsp of butter or oil and fry � the crushed garlic until browned, add the vinegar and pour over the bread.
Heat 2 tbsp of butter or oil, add the rice and fry for a few minutes. Add 3 cups of boiling water and � tbsp of salt. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down until rice is cooked. Put rice over the soaked bread covering the dish.
Melt 2 tbsp butter or oil fry the diced onion until soft. Add the rest of the crushed garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and � tsp salt, � tsp black pepper, cumin powder, coriander powder and lemon juice. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pour sauce over the rice in the serving dish and place the baked lamb pieces on top.

1 cup black or brown lentils
2 cups basmati or long grain rice
2 large onions, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 cups elbow macaroni
1 cup chickpeas
1 tsp dried coriander
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Diced onion
1 small onion, minced
3 tsp ground cumin
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 tsp white vinegar
Chilli pepper (optional)

Soak the chickpeas in water overnight. Rinse the chickpeas and cover with water in a saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce the heat until the chickpeas are tender. Season with salt, pepper and 1tsp cumin. Set aside.
Boil macaroni under tender. Drain and set aside.
Wash lentils, place in a saucepan covered with water. Boil until tender (notice that the brown lentil cooks much faster than the black variety). Drain when cooked.
Wash the rice and mix with the precooked lentils. Put the 2 large chopped onions, 3 cloves of crushed garlic and 1 tsp dried coriander in a pot, fry until brown. Drain on paper towels.
Bring 3 cups of water to the boil, add the rice lentil mix. Once the water is boiling reduce the heat, simmer until cooked.
Fry the minced onion and 5 cloves of crushed garlic in oil until softened. Stir in tomatoes, vinegar, salt and chilli pepper (optional) and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened.
To serve layer rice/lentils and macaroni. Spread sauce on top. Garnish with fried onions and chickpeas.

Moroccan chef Simo Mohamed Abbari cannot imagine a day without cooking. Fortunately his Christchurch restaurant and catering business demands his attention almost every day of the week.

When Simo came to New Zealand to visit a friend in 1994 he arrived without a word of English. Now he certainly has the language - and an expanding circle of friends - many of whom he cooked for on the night we visited him at his central city Moroccan restaurant.

Contacts: Simos Restaurant
  114 City Mall
  Cashel St
  Ph: 03 3775001

Shopping  Rare Fare
29-31 Main North Rd
Papanui Christchurch


1 lamb leg (bone out and cut into pieces)
2 small onions peeled and sliced
250g medium sized carrots
205g medium sized courgettes
205g pumpkin, peeled and cut into wedges
2 medium sized tomatoes or 1 can of tined tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
0.5g saffron
2 cups water or lamb stock
500g couscous
50g sultanas
50g prunes
25g roasted almonds
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
25g brown sugar
15g butter

METHOD - Lamb Broth
In a large pan heat the oil and sauté the onions and lamb with the spices, add the fresh or canned tomatoes with the saffron and simmer for 30 minutes. Cover the meat with water or stock and continue to simmer for a further 20 minutes. Check the seasoning to your preferred taste.

Cut the pumpkin into wedges and cut the carrots and courgettes in half so that you have long, large pieces. Add these vegetables to the lamb and cook until tender. Add the fresh coriander and check the seasoning once again

METHOD - Cous cous
Rinse the cous cous grain in cold water and drain off, spread into a large tray and sprinkle with salt and leave approx 10 minutes.
Roll the cous cous between your hands to separate the grains and transfer to the cous cousier (a steamer with a fine mesh) and place on top of the lamb broth, steam for 20 minutes.
Remove the cous cous from the steamer and return it to a tray, repeating the same method of rubbing the grains between the palms and also adding some water. Place the cous cous on top of the lamb broth in the steamer and steam for a further 20 minutes. This process can be repeated 203 times. On the last time return the cous cous to the tray and separate the grains, add some olive oil. Place the cous cous to the side until needed.

To serve: Place the couscous in a large plate moulding it into a cone shape, arrange the vegetables around the sides and place the meat in the centre. Cover the meat with the prune chutney and garnish with roasted almonds and sesame seeds

(good with lamb or chicken dishes)
250g dried prunes
250g sultanas
50g brown sugar or honey
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup water
1/2 medium onion
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2-3 cloves
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

In a heavy saucepan heat the oil and add the chopped onion. Cook until transparent. Add the dried fruit, spice and liquid, then add the sugar.
Cook covered on a medium heat for 2 minutes, then uncover and cook until the chutney is sticky and no liquid is left. Serve hot or cold.

6 baby chickens
6 quails
2 onions, finely chopped
3/4 cup chopped coriander
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup toasted and sliced almonds
2 tsp ground cinnamon
250g clarified butter (100g for cooking, the rest for the pastry)
1/2g saffron threads
Water of chicken stock to cover � the meat
3 eggs
Lemon juice
1 packet filo pastry
1 tsp ground ginger
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp icing sugar

Rinse and clean the baby chicken and quail rubbing with � a cut lemon. In a food processor place the onion, coriander and parsley and blend to a puree, marinate the chicken and quail with the onion and herb mixture.
In a large saucepan put the chicken and quail with any of the remaining onion and herb mixture; add the salt, pepper, 1 tsp cinnamon, 100g butter, water or stock and saffron. Cook on medium heat, check seasoning and water level. When cooked, remove the meat and leave the sauce on the heat to reduce.
Bone the meat and put aside. Beat 2 eggs and slowly stir them into the sauce. Remove from the heat and check the seasoning. Have ready the filo sheets, butter (about 150g) and a pastry brush.
Select a shallow baking pan about 8cm in diameter such as a iron skillet (what you want to do is to construct a pie by layering the filo sheets in the pan and then folding them over the contents)
Cut the filo sheets into long rectangles about the width of the pan and twice and long. Brush one of these sheets with melted butter and put it butter side up in the bottom of the pan, the excess pastry hanging over the side. Add another sheet at an angle to the first and repeat so that you have filo covering the bottom of the pan. Use about 5 sheets to form this layer.
Repeat the process, forming another layer. Now pour meat and sauce into the pan. Put several more buttered sheets on top, this time not with excess pastry hanging over the side (use smaller pieces or fold them in half). Spread the almonds on top of this. Put another layer or so of filo and then fold the dangling ends over the top so as to close the envelope. Brush the top with butter.
At this point the Pastilla can be refrigerated if desired. Put the pan in a pre-heated oven 160C for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with icing sugar and make decorative designs with ground cinnamon.

250g ground beef or lamb
1 onion chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground paprika
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs
Salt and pepper

1 onion
2 cans of chopped tomato
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp fresh parsley and coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
250g frozen or fresh peas

In a food processor mix all the spices, onion and herbs then add the spice mixture to the meat and mix well. Roll the meat into small balls.
In a saucepan add the tomato, onions and herbs and bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Check the seasoning then add the meatballs and cook for 30 minutes. Break the eggs into the centre of the meat ball mixture, cover and simmer for a few minutes until the eggs are poached. Sprinkle with parsley/coriander and add the garden peas.