SOUTH MOROCCAN LAMB COUSCOUS TAGINE, Inspired by my trip to the ESALEN in BIG SUR
This is the national dish of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia located in the northwestern corner of Africa. I discovered this recipe in the Esalen cookbook on my recent trip. Once I got home, I prepared this dish because I wanted to share something special with my girlfriends in celebration of my amazing adventure. I collect cookbooks and was thrilled to add this one to my collection. Every recipe in this book is from someone who stayed or worked at Esalen, which makes it incredible special because it’s how most families preserve their family heritage and this corner of the world definitely feels like home to me.
Esalen is one of the most magical and spiritual places I’ve traveled to in a very long time and it’s funny because I’ve been to Big Sur a bunch of times over the years but never thought to stay here until two weeks ago when I decided it was time to explore. My girlfriend Jen, whose been traveling all over the world for the last 5 years and is currently in Peru, told me about Esalen and I’ve been waiting for the right time in my life to go.
They offer all kinds of workshops, classes and activities – I joined an ecstatic dance class at sunset overlooking the ocean the first day I arrived and found myself lost in the freedom of the moment. I went alone and it was the best decision giving me the opportunity to explore, write, think, meet new people and rejuvenate. You can harvest the fruits, vegetable and herbs early each morning with the cooks if you’d like – they prepare three meals a day and have a homemade bread station that is always open stocked with organic nut butters, tahini, jams etc… Every meal is served in the main lodge and it’s pure, fresh, organic, and filled with health and love. It was hard for me to leave.
Here’s a little side salad I made to accompany the tagine. It’s a mache and power green salad with sunflower seeds, goat cheese and a simple lemon and olive oil dressing.
ESALEN in Big Sur
This is the view from the farm facing the lodge, cliffs and ocean. It’s breathtaking and a reminder that I need to spend more time closer to the ocean. I frolicked in the garden, nibbling on fresh black kale right from the plant and wondered the property soaking in all it’s beauty and sustenance.
The coastline of Big Sur is one of the most incredible scenic drives on Route 1 in California. And as luck would have it or maybe by design, there is no cell service once you hit Big Sur, you just turn up the music, stay present in the moment and take in all that inspires – and give thanks.
The natural sulfur hot springs are clothing optional and I highly recommend everyone goes at least once in their lifetime and opt for no clothes – trust me it’s healing and beautiful on every level.
This is the meditation room that is located over the bridge beyond the first garden. This is where I took one of the most powerful spiritual chakra mediation classes of my life. I attribute the amazing experience to the teacher, she guided us on a series of simple visuals from clearing our chakra’s to a higher connection. I’m so grateful for the experience. It awakened my Kundalini energy and helped me realize that I need to start a daily mediation practice.
SOUTH MOROCCAN LAMB WITH WHOLE WHEAT COUSCOUS TAGINE
- 1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 med onion, diced
- 2 med carrots, diced
- 1 small celery root or 3 celery stalks, diced
- 1 cup of diced butternut squash or 1 small yam
- 1 med zucchini or 6 mini zucchini, cut into small rounds
- 1 Quart Vegetable Stock
- 1 Tbs Sea Salt
- 1 Rutabaga, diced
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 4 Whole Cloves
- 1 Tsp Cumin
- 1 Tsp Turmeric
- 2 Pounds Lamb, Cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 Jar Tomato Sauce
- 1/2 Tsp Saffron threads
- 2 Cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 Handful Cilantro and Parsley, Chopped
- Olive Oil
- Sea Salt/Cracked Pepper
First, season the lamb with salt and pepper and in a heavy dutch oven brown the meat in a teaspoon of olive oil, then set aside.
Once you remove the lamb, saute the carrots, onions and celery for about 5 minutes or until translucent.
Continue to saute and add the cubed eggplant, butternut squash and zucchini.
Add one jar of fresh tomato sauce, I used a jar from the summer when I canned the heirloom tomatoes.
Add the browned lamb and parsley, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Add the spices and chickpeas. Then turn back down to simmer for the next hour and a half.
Here’s the tagine after it cooked for an hour and a half.
Prepare the whole wheat couscous and add a handful of parsley and a little lemon and olive oil for a mild flavor.
Serve the lamb tagine over the couscous and enjoy!