Moroccan green bottle gourd salad from Fez: N'ii bezzeit

N'ii bezzit is a rather weird name for a salad. "N'ii" is a sort of oral obituary and "bezzeit" means with oil. I have no idea why this simple and yet nice cooked salad is called that way. Being an old recipe, it must be related to something in history we are not aware of.

It's absolutely optional to use chopped herbs but they make a good addition
This cooked salad is served at room temperature and should ideally be made ahead to infuse its flavours properly. Should you wish to add agriche to it, think about serving it slightly warm.

In Morocco, the bottle gourd is a seasonal product and vary in texture from a region to another.
It has a furry skin but the quality of its flesh differs from a soil to another

Ingredients
Serves 6 to 8 
Prep: 10 min - Cooking: 30 min

4 medium or 2 big green bottle gourds, preferably fresh
2 cloves of garlic, grated or crushed
3 tbps of coriander
1 tbsp of sweet paprika
1 tsp of cumin
30 ml of olive oil
Salt to taste

Optional
1 to 2 tbsps of Agriche

Moroccan green bottle gourd salad served another day. The sauce is slightly thick due to the addition of agriche

Preparation

Peel the bottle goud and discard the inner seedy part as well.

Wash and dice it into small cubes or you are feeling lazy just cut it the way it's shown in the pictures. The smaller the cubes are the better as the spices will have a better opportunity to go deeper.
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In a deep saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add in the garlic, the paprika and coriander. Stir for a few seconds. Add water and bring to a boil.

Add the diced bottle gourd which should be covered to 3/4 with water. Cover the saucepan and cook until the vegetable has become tender (about 20 minutes).

Uncover the saucepan and sprinkle with cumin. Let simmer in case the liquid has not reduced. You don't want to turn the vegetable into a puree either; it needs to keep its shape.

Once the vegetable is cooked and the liquid has reduced, turn off the heat and add vinegar, the rest of olive oil and agriche and simmer until the sauce has reduced.

Serve at room temperature or cold if you haven't used agriche.

The bottle gourd salad can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days.


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