What Mourad Lahlou has developed over the last decade and a half at his Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant is nothing less than a new, modern Moroccan cuisine, inspired by memories, steeped in colorful stories, and informed by the tireless exploration of his curious mind. His book is anything but a dutifully “authentic” documentation of Moroccan home cooking. Yes, the great classics are all ...
What Mourad Lahlou has developed over the last decade and a half at his Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant is nothing less than a new, modern Moroccan cuisine, inspired by memories, steeped in colorful stories, and informed by the tireless exploration of his curious mind. His book is anything but a dutifully “authentic” documentation of Moroccan home cooking. Yes, the great classics are all here—the basteeya, the couscous, the preserved lemons, and much more. But Mourad adapts them in stunningly creative ways that take a Moroccan idea to a whole new place. The 100-plus recipes, lavishly illustrated with food and location photography, and terrifically engaging text offer a rare blend of heat, heart, and palate.
Lahlou, chef and owner of the highly acclaimed San Francisco restaurant Aziza, was inspired by a large extended family, most notably his grandfather who fostered a love for food in the stalls of the Moroccan marketplace. Relocated in the U.S., Lahlou attempts to recreate from memory the beloved food of his childhood. By experimenting, he is able to replicate these meals with a twist—his own take on traditional Moroccan dishes that eventually become staples in his restaurant and are highlighted in this worthy collection. For food enthusiasts unfamiliar with Moroccan dishes, Lahlou includes a handy section on key ingredients and staples of the cuisine including balsamic cranberries, pickled green strawberries, preserved lemons, and more. Of special importance is couscous, which gets a chapter unto itself. He explains the culture surrounding this central ingredient, provides a buyer’s guide for those who buy commercially, and offers a lengthy section on how to roll and cook it at home. He also offers a wealth of recipes for appetizers, soups, breads including grilled flatbread and harissa rolls, fish, chicken, and lamb. Appealing side dishes include dry-fried okra with melted tomatoes, leek gratin, salt-roasted potatoes, and parsnip risotto. Lahlou provides an entertaining and appetizing guide to not only Moroccan dishes but the culture of Morocco as well and will introduce many readers to this intensely flavorful cuisine. (Oct.)
Lahlou, owner of Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant Aziza, is a self-taught chef who turned to cooking out of homesickness for his native Morocco. His debut cookbook beautifully captures a culture, philosophy, and cuisine. The first section explains fundamentals including warqa (a pastry similar to phyllo) and hand-rolled couscous. Re-creating Lahlou's flavors takes patience and commitment; to make his Ras el Hanout spice blend, you'll need to gather, toast, grind, and blend 22 separate components. Given its complex recipes, this book will appeal the most to advanced home cooks, culinary professionals, and fans of Lahlou's restaurant. Lahlou's memories paired with Jones's handsome photographs make for evocative travel writing. Highly recommended.
Authentic Moroccan cuisine as interpreted by one of America's up-and-coming young chefs. Many of the book's photos feature the handsome, tattooed author; perhaps he is deserving of such an homage: A self-taught chef who began cooking as a student in America because he was homesick for Morocco, Lahlou now owns the Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant Aziza. Creating a cuisine he refers to as "New Moroccan," the recipes are unabashedly complicated and ingredient-heavy. As a California chef, the author writes about having to find a middle ground between fresh West Coast fare and the Moroccan propensity for heavy sauces and spices. However, he doesn't make too many allowances for the American pantry. He presents cooks with a text-heavy instruction manual of how to capture the true flavor of Moroccan cuisine, and includes tips for professional chefs as well as websites for ordering ingredients. He is exacting in his approach (he admits to firing chefs for grinding too many spices as a short cut) and goes so far as to offer an entire chapter on hand-rolling couscous. With such sections as "Dude, Preserved Lemons," however, this is far from a stuffy culinary manual. As precious (and precocious) as he may sound, Lahlou's recipes, when followed accurately, are exciting and deliciously new.
Arriving in California from Marrakesh in 1985 to go to college, a homesick young Mourad Lahlou began to channel memories of watching his mother and aunts as they prepared traditional Moroccan dishes at home. He started to cook for himself, then for friends, and then for friends of friends. He completed a master’s degree in macroeconomics, but the lure of the kitchen pulled him from his doctorate, and he opened his first restaurant, in San Rafael, California, in 1997. He then opened the decidedly modern Aziza, named after his mother, in San Francisco in 2001, to international acclaim. In 2009, he won Iron Chef America by the largest margin in the history of the show.