10 Apr 2015

Cuisine of Figuig or Ifiyyey : Aghrom Anabsal or Anabssale or N'lebsal / Onion Bread

Figuig is a stunning little town in eastern Morocco near the Atlas Mountains.  The Imazighen locals call their town "Ifiyyey" which is an adjective derived from the verb "Afey" and which means "Cover". Figuig or Ifiyyey has the largest palmeraie  in Morocco with over 150,000 palm trees and I was told that the tall graceful palms are male trees vs female ones which are shorter.

I was fascinated how locals can easily tell you what sex their palm trees are!  There are other trees especially olives, lemons and pomegranates, making this palmeraie look like a green jewel in the middle of sahara with ancient wooden building style and loads of birds singing, drumming, winnowing, or simply displaying to impress or proclaim their territories.  From the highest part of the town, you can see the for-ever-closed borders, dividing Kingdom of Morocco from Algeria, and it's about 3 or 4 km from Figuig to Moroccan customs. Figuig or Ifiyyey should be on your list to visit if you're after destinations to relax, enjoy big scenery and allow yourself to wander in nature but watch out, sometimes you may find yourself in someone’s private farm.

There are so many cuisine specialities in Figuig, and Aghroum Anabsal is one of them. It's very important not to confuse Aghroum Anabsal with Mihmih or Mi7mi7, which is sort of Msemen sheet layers cooked on top of the other with special pre-cooked stuffing sauce separating each sheet.  I would say, in a typical Figuigian home, either you have visitors over or not, it's pretty much tradition to sit down and have a snack with Aghroum Anabsal along with Moroccan tea or Tahrirt or Askif. This bread is just perfect for any occasion, afternoon snack, Ftour meal during Ramdan etc...

Aghroum Anabsal, Imazighen name, which can be translated as follows: aghroum = bread and anabsal = onions. This is so easy to make and it's incredibly delicious when all that goodness sauce is cooked inside the bread, so I might say the hardest part in this recipe is making the sauce and chopping the vegetables. The dough is quite the same as Toghrift or batboot that I posted before, as for the sauce, it is made with both green/red/yellow peppers, onions, I mean loads of onions, herbs (usually coriander/parsley), some butter or smen and spices. The original Figuigian recipe sauce calls for stuffing Aghroum Anabsal with raw vegetables, which are simply chopped then mixed with butter and spices.  I prefer to make mine as my mum used to do, sauteing onions along with some garlic, using olive or argan oil instead of butter, then add the peppers, parsley/coriander and lot of hot pepper, stir everything over medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, then remove to allow to cool before stuffing the bread.
Mamatkamal


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