Good to Know Before Eating Tagine Meat in Morocco!

As most Moroccans, I guess we eat more beef in my house than any type of meat, with chicken queuing close behind, after comes fish, and sea food, then a once a week lamb in Fridays couscous, and to be honest I can't remember the last time I fixed veal, but I probably will be posting a tagine veal soon.

Meat: beef, lamb and chicken are very popular in making tagines, and the cooking time of a medium tagine for about one kilo of meat will take more or less 2 hours and a half, sometimes more, depending on the size of meat cuts. As a tourist, it's good to know that some areas, especially the south, goat and camel meat may be turned into tagines. However, camel meat is a delicacy and not eaten on a daily basis, but only at parties, big occasions and wedding receptions. In some areas, rabbits and pigeons can also ended up in tagines. Play safe and always ask type of meat used in your tagine to avoid any bad surprise.

Due to Morocco being a muslim country, most of the meat is Halal. However there is also Kosher butchers for the Moroccan Jews community.  Similar to Jewish Kosher laws, Muslims cannot eat any pork or pig meat. Both religions contain some points of similarity, representing dietary laws of Abrahamic religion.  So all meat served in restaurants is Halal or Kosher as there are certain laws that Muslims and Jews follow when it comes to meat.  The government specifies certain rules for animals' slaughtering. Here are some laws that Muslims and Jews follow when it comes to meat: 

1-Animals must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter.
2-All blood should be drained from the carcass. 
3-Stunning is not allowed either electrical or gas or percussive method.

So if you don't eat Halal or Kosher, you have to make inquiries via your travel agent to help you find a non-halal butcher, where pork meat is sold.

Chicken: in Morocco, there are 3 types of chicken: Djaj Beldi or Baldi, Djaj Roumi and Djaj Croisé. The word "Djaj" means “Chicken”:

a-Djaj Baldi : It's fed only grain, bread soaked in water, any vegetables and fuits left over. They are never given any antibiotics. It takes over 2 hours to cook djaj baldi, depending on its weight. It's considered the most delicious type of djaj and most expensive as well. Traditionally, djaj beldi is considered as a natural dietary remedy, and is recommended for nursing mothers as it has been known to increase the milk supply. Moroccan nursing mothers consume djaj beldi for at least 30 days after childbirth, prepared in different ways, mostly in Rfissa dish.

Djaj Beldi is also considered as a traditional medicine to conceive. Women who wish to start a family and for some reasons the conceiving process is delayed, they turn to a traditional recipe made of Djaj Beldi and Msakhn, which is a very elaborated version of Rass El Hanout, also called Moroccan Viagra for humour sake.

The fertility slow-cooked Djaj Beldi is first marinated with Mssakhn overnight, then cooked, with the help of granny, mum and aunties, for several hours.  Before her man shows up, the wife has to make sure no curious family member is around, and this is quite a challenge with all the endless hilarious quotes, teasing jokes and funny sayings regarding this very important Mssakhn/Djaj Beldi night!  Finally, when everyone leaves, and the husband comes back from a busy day at work, he smells the delicious flavours in the kitchen,then a fire in his underpants is started; sorry I mean in his heart :). Djaj Beldi dish will turn him on and finally will settle him down to start a family which he will never regret.

b-Djaj Roumi : also known as djaj lbyad which means “white chicken”. This is the fruit of incubation method mostly located in Casablanca. The eggs are placed in large walk-in incubators, kept warm and periodically rotated by machine. They begin to hatch in about 21 days. The chicks peck their way out of their shells when they are ready. They are then sprayed with a mist of vaccine against diseases, then shipped to the nearby farms. This becomes the most affordable meat in Morocco and it takes less time to cook, between 30 to 45 minutes. It's less tasty than djaj beldi, but due to its price, it is more popular.

c-Djaj Croisé: This is the reformed and marketed laying hens known as “élevage des poulets de réforme” in French. Commercial laying hens are moved to laying farms just before they start laying eggs, and they are kept there for more or less 2 years. We distinguish first choice of Croisé (the one with full plumage), second choice (half bald hens) and third choice (the one with bruises, cuts and scratches).  It's less delicious than Djaj Beldi but more delicious than Djaj Roumi. This is the type of Djaj most used in occasions as weddings etc...

In short we summarize the physical characteristics of chicken as follows: Beldi is tall and skinny, with colourful plumage. Roumi is short and fat, with white plumage. Croisé is compact round chicken, with brown plumage.
K. El Mary


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