HomeFoodMagical Moroccan Mince with Pistachio and Date

Magical Moroccan Mince with Pistachio and Date

Do you have trouble cooking mince so it releases all the flavour? Chef Mel Alafaci has a tip and a delicious recipe.

Chef’s mince note: Remember, if there is grey liquid in your pan at any stage it is simply because the pan is too cold, you are stirring too much, and the mince is stewing. Scrape all the mince to the one side of the pan, leaving half the pan naked. Put up the heat and back away from the pan.

Eventually, the grey liquid will cook back into the mince and voila, you have learnt to cook mince in the sexiest way! It really does mean free flavour.

You will now live happily ever after. Here’s how you do it.

Serves: 4–6


• 2 squirts of a canola or rice bran cooking spray into a large non-stick pan

• 800g lean beef mince (fluff this up with your hands so it’s all nice and loose and fluffy and not in one big block)

• 1 large onion, finely diced

• 1 clove garlic crushed (optional)

• 1 tablespoon ras el hanout (you can make your own using my recipe or just use 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder and 1/2 coriander powder)

• 1 teaspoon turmeric (most important ingredient other than good quality mince as this will add fabulous colour to your otherwise drab mince!)

• 1/2 cup finely diced fennel or you could use grated carrot, zucchini, or you choose

• 1 vegetable or beef stock cube crumbled to a powder

• 1 cup chopped tomatoes or use one tin chopped tomato

• 2 tablespoons tomato paste or passata

• 1 tin chick peas, drained and rinsed

• salt and pepper to season

• about 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Read: Scone-Topped Beef Casserole

Pistachio And Date Gravel

Mix together:

• 1–2 tablespoons pistachios bashed or chopped to a nice coarse gravel

• 2 tablespoons finely chopped dates

• rose petals or grate in some lemon zest (1/2 teaspoon) and 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley or coriander for colour


The first thing you should do is heat and grease a large pan until just about smoking hot. The mince must sizzle when it hits the pan.

Now add the mince that you have broken up in the packaging or a bowl so it is loose and fluffy already. Put the mince into the pan. It should sizzle nice and loud and sexy.

Read: Savoury Mince Hotpot

Do not stir. I know you are worried about it burning and about lumps, but let the mince brown and seal on the first side, let the pan heat up again and then you can stir ever so slightly just to get some more mince onto the base of the pan. My favourite mince ‘fluffer’ is one of those cheap plastic-coated whisks you get at the supermarket that only have about four loops. If you don’t have one of those, use a strong plastic spoon or egg flip to break down the mince.

Once the mince is brown and fragrant and sexy all by itself, then, and only then, do you add the finely chopped onion and garlic. There should be enough oil out of the mince that you have rendered off during your amazing sizzle cooking of the mince at a nice high heat. You can stir as much as you like now, by the way, that mince is sealed off!

Now add the spices, fennel, stock powder and seasoning and stir through. Amazing colour isn’t it!

Read: Braised Beef Short Ribs

Finally, add the chopped tomatoes and passata and the chick peas, and you’re practically done. Turn down the heat and let that all cook through. Then add the lemon zest and it’s ready to serve.

This way of cooking will not only save you time, but it will add valuable flavour and vibrant personality to your otherwise boring mince.

I love to get creative with my mince and change the spices, thus changing the flavour.

I serve mine with a yoghurt swirl and the pistachio and date gravel with just a twist of fresh peppery rocket leaves.

Mel Alafaci is a chef and author. You can listen to her chat with podcast host John Deeks here, visit www.chefmel.me for more information or find her new book Culinary Quickies here.

Did you know Mel’s tip about cooking mince? Do you have another tip about cooking mince? Why not share your suggestion in the comments section below?

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