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Moroccan Dinner at the Casbah Nova

August 4, 2014 by Joan Nova in Dinner Party, Entertaining, Family | 19 Comments

My son gave me a beautiful tagine on Mother’s Day and I finally got around to using it this weekend. But, first, according to directions, it needed to be treated … a 24-hour soaking in water, then a massage with olive oil and, lastly, a 1-1/2 hour dry treatment in the oven. By the time I was done, I was ready to book a spa treatment for myself.

So after 2 days of preparation, the tagine was ready and, in typical FOODalogue fashion, I decided to create a dinner party around its inauguration.

Welcome to the Casbah!

The most fun part of a dinner party is setting the table. I generally use white plates but for this occasion, I decided to go with colors and scavage-hunted around in my closets and came up with some mix-matched chargers and as many colorful touches as I could find.

and I love – and have used many times – this napkin “ring” idea which I picked up on pinterest a while ago. I’ve done it as place cards with the guests’ names and as a preview of the menu, like here.


First Course

Conversation between courses.

The tagine served with saffron couscous and the roasted carrot/sweet potato mix.

moroccan dinner-DSC_0005


NOTE: I’ve made Moroccan food several times over the years, but it’s not something I do regularly so I relied on info/inspiration from internet sources — flavor profiles, techniques, wine pairings (see links below). These links were the jumping off points I used and I include them here with some sidebar notes.

Merguez Meatballs I used beef and thought they were a little dry and dense. Could have benefited from some fat in the mix (like egg or yogurt). Because of this dryness I decided to serve them in the sauce instead of on the side. Also, I added a little honey to yogurt sauce for balance and it was very good.

Lamb Tagine I used a boneless leg and butchered it myself. I browned and started stove top before transferring to the tagine. Did not add the honey called for as I felt 2 cups of prunes would make it sweet enough. I was right. Otherwise, it’s a really good recipe.

Moroccan Spiced Roasted Carrots + Sweet Potatoes was a really nice contrast of flavors with the garlic, lemon and olives. Would definitely do again.

Yogurt Cake The peppery roasted grapes and walnut topping was my idea. Would definitely do again.

Wine Pairings

Anything else was me just winging it in the kitchen. And, I added a few last minute items like the cashews and toasted flatbread slices in the photos.


NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. I love-love-love the colors!
    South Florida Food and Wine recently posted..Summer White Wines At A Cool ValueMy Profile

  2. Norma says:

    I always miss your amazing dinners…Everything looks so good and the yogurt cake was a WOW!

  3. What a wonderful menu and dinner, love everything Moroccan. Menu napkin rings are so cool

  4. I love Moroccan food, everything looks awesome, Joan! I like the menu as napkin ring too, great idea, saves me from having to remember every little thing I’ve made (and sounding poncy too!) Have you made preserved lemons before? I always use those in Moroccan dishes and more.

  5. I love Moroccan food and always looked forward to going to France where you can always find Moroccan restaurants. I have never made it myself and applaud you for making the effort. Everything looks so good.

  6. Your table and food look so fabulous. I too have a tagine just waiting to be lovingly seasoned and used. You have inspired me to do just that. I adore the napkin ring idea and the menu sounds superb. Since I believe Merguez if lamb sausage, do you think the meatballs would have been moister using that?
    sandra axelrod recently posted..365 Vegan SmoothiesMy Profile

    • Joan Nova says:

      Thanks Sandy. I questioned beef as merguez too but since it was suggested and I already had lamb in the main course, I went with it. Everything thing was really good — including the leftovers I ate on Monday! :)

  7. Liz says:

    The table look great as does the food.

  8. bellini says:

    When I can get local Coronation grapes in season I love roasted grapes. I love the idea of putting them on top of a luscious dessert Joan.

  9. sippitysup says:

    Everything looks beautiful and paired so nicely with your wine choices. GREG
    sippitysup recently posted..Summer Greens and Nectarines SaladMy Profile

  10. The casbah Nova – love it. Beautiful menu and vibrant decoration Joan.
    Sally – My Custard Pie recently posted..Simple and in Season summer round up (July entries)My Profile

  11. Dina says:

    Looks delicious Joan. We really should talk Val into organizing a Moroccan foodie trip next:).

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