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Saturday, 18 September 2021

Christmas with a Moroccan twist

Chef Zeinab Mustafa brings Moroccan flavors to the Christmas dinner table

Ghada Abdel-Kader , Monday 6 Jan 2020
Zeinab Mustafa-
courtesy of chef Zeinab Mustafa

Moroccan chef Zeinab Mustafa specialises in Moroccan cuisine and pastry. Mustafa’s interest in cooking peaked at an early age. She smiled saying: “The kitchen has always been a lot of fun.”

“My mother taught me the different ingredients and names of dishes,” she added.

Gradually, cooking became hobby. After graduating from the faculty of commerce and business administration, she joined one of the Moroccan academies specialised in culinary arts to obtain a professional certificate in cooking. Mustafa commented: “I always believed this hobby ought to be developed through academic study.”

Mustafa derived her inspirations from her mother, sons, and the beauty of nature. She said, “nature brought to my mind creative cooking ideas for recipes and dishes.”

Mustafa has a successful Egyptian cooking show, Bel Seha Wel Raha (Health and Comfort) aired on CBC Sofra TV channel. Mustafa’s will soon launch season 4 of the show.

Mustafa shares two yummy Moroccan recipes for Christmas celebrations.

Santa's hat cake

courtesy of chef Zeinab Mustafa
Santa hat cake- courtesy of chef Zeinab Mustafa


Big, rectangular sponge cake

Cake decorating:

Butter cream

1kg red sugar paste or rolled fondant

1kg white sugar paste

Silver food glitter


Cut and carve the cake in a triangular shape like Santa’s hat. Before applying the red fondant, spread a thin layer of butter cream over the entire cake with an offset spatula.

Use non-stick rolling pin to roll the red fondant out on a large sheet. Clean the cake board from any crumbs. Drape fondant over the cake. Use your hands softly to smooth fondant onto the top and both edges of the cake. Make sure to remove air bubbles and sticking fondant to the buttercream. Gently stretch the fondant at the edges of the cake and trim any excess.

Roll a ball of white fondant to make pompom for the hat. Cut a piece of white fondant and place a long strip for the band to go around the hat. Apply buttercream to glue around the bottom rim and the tip of the hat. Spray some silver glitter on the pompom and long strip. Then add coconut flakes to give a fluffy effect. Sprinkle coconut around the edges and use a mix of decorations of white pearl sprinkles, coloured chocolate candy balls, Christmas trees, bells and gifts.

Chicken with olives tagine

courtesy of chef Zeinab Mustafa
Chicken tagine with olives


1kg skinless chicken thighs

½ kg onion slices

½ kg onion finely chopped

9 minced garlic cloves

1 stalk of chopped oarsley

1 stalk of chopped fresh coriander

2 lemons (Moroccan preserved lemon) 

Red olives without pits

2 broth cubes

Saffron threads




Black pepper

¼ cup water

Mixture of 2tsp vegetable oil and olive oil

Samn (Moroccan clarified butter) or ghee (samna baladi)

1 lemon (Moroccan preserved lemon) for garnish


In a large pot or tagine, put a mixture of vegetables and olive oil on high heat on the stove, sautéing the chopped onions for a few seconds. Then add samn and chicken thighs. Season with turmeric, ginger, salt and black pepper. Put the stock cubes and garlic. Add preserved lemon and saffron threads, parsley, coriander and stir. Leave the mixture to sauté for 5-7 minutes.

Add sliced onions, Moroccan preserved lemon slices and red olives. Do not stir and cook few minutes. Then, pour ¼ cup of hot water over the mixture and leave it to cook for 20-25 minutes. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with lemon slices and nuts.


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