Craving for warm flavours…..
It’s the first week in March, there is a slight feeling of autumn in the Cape air (this week I started noticing vines changing colour and cats want to cuddle under the sheet for the first time in months). My taste buds are craving ‘warm’ flavours, but we are not quite ready for hearty dishes yet!
Some years ago I created this recipe for pork neck steaks when I did recipe development for a large retailer. It was so popular and very unusual at the time, long before Moroccan or Middle Eastern cuisines were popular here. It is still one of my favourite recipes for either pork steaks or deboned chicken breasts or thighs.
The yoghurt has a tenderising effect on the meat and the flavours are mildly spicy. You can adjust the heat by adding more or less cayenne pepper. Allow the meat to marinade for at least 24 hours to get the full flavour and tenderising benefit.
I love grilling the meat on the braai to get a smokey dimension, but it is as good if you cook it in the oven.
I usually marinate meat in a plastic bag. It not only saves washing up (in favour with our current water crisis in the Cape), but allows one to turn and ‘massage’ the meat, resulting in a more effective marinade.
One of my favourite accompaniments with barbequed pork or chicken is char-grilled pineapple, and a sweetcorn salad to which I add coriander, chilli, apple or cucumber and crisp red cabbage. This style of salad works well when you serve flatbreads, when you can pile on the salad and meat and wrap it.
For the carbohydrate element you can serve rice or couscous, maintaining the North African or Middle Eastern flavours, or simply serve flat breads.
I occasionally serve a spiced yoghurt dressing with the meat. Simply add a few spoons of your favourite chilli relish and a squeeze of lemon juice to some thick full cream yoghurt!
The recipe calls for the traditional Moroccan spice Ras el Hanout. This is a ‘houseblend’ of Moroccan spices. When you visit the spice shops in Moroccan Souks (markets) every stall owner tries to convince you that his is ‘the finest’! The common ingredients may be cumin, turmeric, nutmeg, clove, all spice, chilli, ginger, paprika, cardamom. I bought it for the first time in Morocco, but that was used up years ago. Luckily we are able to buy a spice mix from local supermarkets. If you do not have any, you can omit it.