Who would have thought North African desserts could rhyme with light cuisine?
The first ideas that come to mind when I think about North African desserts are almond, date or honey pastries and other sweets that I am completely addicted to, but let’s be honest, are not necessarily fat free or sugar free!
There is a dessert that is an exception to the rule. A dessert, which in addition to being quick and easy to prepare, is rather inexpensive to make. This desert is the famous Moroccan orange salad with cinnamon.
A combination of soft and subtle flavors that perfectly complement an often rich and hearty meal composed of dishes like the ones we already published when we visited the North African countries, including Tunisian pkaila, Moroccan dafina or Algerian couscous with butter. Despite the fact that these recipes are simply delicious, I have to admit that they are not representative of light cuisine. So this dessert brings a definite freshness, and is a good transition before ending a meal with a sweet pastry and a mint tea… Of course, #DietStartsTomorrow… as usual…
Cinnamon is very present in Moroccan cuisine, either in sweet preparations, like in this salad, or in savory dishes such as pastilla, made with layers of very thin brick dough sheets stuffed with pigeon marinated in spices, almonds, onions and decorated with cinnamon and sugar. Cinnamon is also found in some tagines, including one of my favorites, chicken with prunes and almonds. Even if I enjoy all these dishes, I have a hard time tolerating this overused spice especially in American pastries, or in desserts made with apples in Central and Eastern European countries, such as strudel.
Is Cinnamon dangerous?
With cinnamon, you have to be careful, as there are two species, which present a real danger to health. It is the variety of cassia or Chinese cinnamon, less expensive than its noble cousin called Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum) originating from Sri Lanka. Indeed, cassia contains 60 times more coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon, a substance which is dangerous to the liver.
It is difficult to determine the origin and the species used in ground cinnamon sold in stores, while it is easier to identify the source when purchased in the form of sticks of bark. In general, cinnamon is imported from Sri Lanka, India, Java, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Madagascar, the French West Indies or Brazil.
Finally, you must be aware that for obvious reasons of reduction of production costs, cassia cinnamon is the cinnamon type that is typically used in packaged products.
As if we needed another reason to make everything from scratch!
- 4 oranges
- Juice of one orange
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- Mint leaves
- Mix orange juice with honey and orange blossom water and refrigerate.
- Peel the oranges: first cut the top and bottom of the orange, then cut the skin from top to bottom.
- Slice the oranges into medium slices.
- Arrange oranges in a serving dish. Pour over previously reserved cold juice.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and garnish with a few mint leaves. Serve fresh.