"This popular dish, served on special occasions, is presented like couscous on a large platter," writes Paula Wolfert. "The msemmen are torn into pieces while still hot to the touch and set aside until just before serving. Then they are piled into a steamer and reheated. The chicken stew is placed on top and the sauce spooned over. There are many versions of this dish. This one was given to me by Aunt Aicha from the town of Beni Mellal. She said to be sure to add the ras el hanout: 'It puts the dish up 10 notches.'"
Note Semolina comes in three grades: coarse,
medium and extra-fine, all available from Indian grocers. The
extra-fine version, also called patent durum flour, durum atta or
durum, is double-milled to the texture of talcum powder. You can
make msemmen a day in advance: flatten each square between two
sheets of baking parchment, roll up and store in a resealable bag
in the refrigerator. Some of the best cumin in the world is
produced just west of Marrakech, and I urge you to seek out the
Moroccan variety if possible - even if you have to go to the
trouble of getting it by mail order. Moroccan cumin seed is so
powerful it does not need to be toasted before being ground.
The Food of Morocco ($65, hbk) by Paula Wolfert is published by Bloomsbury. This recipe has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.