If Barka M'souli ever reads this recipe, her eyes will grow wide with surprise. She lives in Casablanca, Morocco, looking after her large family of children and grandchildren. One of her children is here in Australia - her son Hassan of Out of Africa, in Manly, NSW. While he's a professional chef, there were a few things he found hadn't perfected in his repertoire, particularly some of the traditional recipes from home. He just couldn't match his mother's preserved lemon recipe - until she sent him a few of her secret methods.
- 8 thin skinned juicy lemons
- rock salt
- large glass screw-top jar
- 6 cardomom pods
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 birds eye chillies
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Break the pores of the lemon by scraping gently against the medium setting of grater.
Place in large bowl and cover completely with cold water. Put aside in cool place.
Next day, pour the water off the lemons and cover with fresh water.
This removes any bitterness.
On the third day, pour off the water. Using a sharp knife and chopping board, make 4 deep slits in each lemon (they should go about halfway to the centre). Pack each incision with a good heaped teaspoon of rock salt.
Place stuffed lemons in a glass jar, add cardamom pods, bay leaves and chillies.
Pour boiling water over contents and screw on lid while the water is still hot. Leave for 40 days in a cool dark place.
Serve by themselves as an accompaniment to a cold beer; use in tajine and couscous dishes.