The argan tree is a Berber identity icon, and production of its oil is traditionally a woman’s job. But as with many folkways, interest in argan began to dwindle. It’s a finicky process with low yield. Unless marketed wisely, it’s hardly worth the effort to produce.
The Slow Food Foundation of Biodiversity, funded by Italy’s Piemonte Regional Authority, established argan oil workshops in Morocco, reviving the ancient skill and giving village women an opportunity to earn money. Read how argan oil is empowering Moroccan village women.
Argan oil is now considered a culinary and cosmetic treasure in upscale homes world-wide. Consequently, preserving the native argan forests has become an important economic issue in Morocco – just in time to prevent erosion of their environment. Recent successful efforts to cultivate the argan tree in Israel also improve the species’ chances for survival.
Hopefully this cookbook, written in charmingly accented English and lavishly illustrated with beautiful watercolors, will inspire you to do some exotic argan oil cooking.
Historical notes and traditional stories polish the recipes, which cover sauces, salads, couscous, soups, tajines and desserts. Scattered throughout the text are little gems like advice on how to tell if saffron is good quality; how to cook with a tajine pot; what oudi butter is (a type of ghee, or smen).
You can download the PDF for The Gold of Arganeraie by clicking on this link. <—update 2021, and the link no longer works. And to give you a taste, here’s a simple dessert.
It would make a good finger-food for a party too.
Dates Filled With Cheese and Walnuts
Adapted from The Gold of Arganeraie
For 15 dates
15 stoned dates
30 grams walnuts, finely chopped
100 grams ricotta cheese
80 grams Roquefort cheese
1 teaspoon argan oil
Preparation time: 1⁄2 hour
Mix the ricotta with the Roquefort and argan oil using a whisk. Salt to taste.
Add half the chopped walnuts and put in a pastry bag.
Fill the stoned dates with the cheese mixture and finally decorate with the remaining walnuts.
Some surprising Moroccan recipes:
Images from The Gold of Arganeraie.