Taxi Drivers and Stuffed Artichokes

by Sarah on June 20, 2011

There was a time when my husband flew across the world as casually as one might drive to the city, being funneled from one mode of transportation to another.  On one such business trip he met Daniel, a soft spoken Moroccan taxi driver who became a friend by the end of the ride.

preserved lemons, olives and parsley

Preserved lemons, home cured olives and parsley

Daniel is the antithesis of the stereotypical “tough guy” Moroccan man and although he was born and raised in Casablanca his French tinged Hebrew is anything but intimidating. From the short rides from here to there, I have gleamed stories from his life (which is not unusual for Israeli taxi drivers). We have discussed politics, family, travel destinations and food. His wife it turns out is a fantastic cook. When I prodded him for some recipes he gave me her telephone number, “She’s Turkish but my mother taught her everything about Moroccan cooking, call her, she’ll know”. So I did.

Stuffed Artichokes

Stuffed Artichokes are a Sephardic Moroccan specialty.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

600 grams ground veal, lamb or beef

1/2 cup packed parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg

1 tablespoon bread crumbs

10-12 artichoke bottoms. If fresh, remove the outer leaves and the fuzzy core, leaving only the artichoke hearts. Alternately use frozen artichoke bottoms, that’s what I did.

Dipping mixture

½ cup flour

2 eggs, beaten


½ teaspoon turmeric

1 onion

4 garlic cloves, minced

Juice of one lemon

1 onion, chopped

2-4 tablespoons olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pot)

1 cup water, chicken or vegetable broth

Fry the onion in the oil until golden. Mix the raw meat, flat leaf parsley, salt and pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, breadcrumbs and egg and knead to a soft paste with your hands. When the onions are cooled, add them to the meat mixture and mix well. Take lumps of the meat mixture and fill the artichoke bottoms, making little mounds. Dip the meat side of the artichokes in the flour then the beaten egg and fry meat side down until golden brown. Transfer to cool on to a paper towel. The artichokes will continue to cook in the sauce so the meat does not need to be completely cooked at this point.


Preheat oven to 170°C. In an oven proof pot (I recommend using a clay pot for this recipe.), fry the onion in olive oil until golden brown, add the garlic and continue cooking for a few moments longer. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, turmeric and salt and pepper. Arrange the artichokes in the sauce, single layer and add about 1 cup water or broth, enough to almost cover them. Bring to a boil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 60 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the artichokes are soft. If the sauce is thin and still watery, remove the artichokes and pour the sauce in a small saucepan. Reduce the sauce over medium heat, stirring so bits don’t settle and burn. Pour over artichokes.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamie June 20, 2011 at 2:59 am

What a wonderful little story and just goes to prove that friendships can grow from the most unlikely places. And I can only imagine his wife’s storehouse of recipes with both Turkish and Moroccan culinary heritages. Gorgeous and some of my favorite flavors. These artichoke hearts are fabulous and I have bookmarked this recipe! It has been too long since I have cooked anything Moroccan and it is about time – and I would love a new recipe to add to my own repertoire. This looks too good not to do myself. Fabulous, Sarah!


Sarah June 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

Thank you Jamie, His wife also taught me to make hand raked couscous! On another day Daniel called one of his clients for a pumpkin sauce to go with the Tunisian Fricasee sandwich. It’s great!


Simcha June 20, 2011 at 4:22 am

This is a must make!


Angela June 20, 2011 at 5:32 am

I absolutely LOVE artichokes, these look delicious!


Dawn June 20, 2011 at 6:34 am

I love the sauce mixture. Lemon, tumeric and onion. I never would have thought to put those together but I love it!


Lori June 20, 2011 at 9:31 am

These look amazing! I love artichokes, but the fresh ones are very rare around here. I hadn’t thought about looking for frozen though. I’d love to make this.


Sarah June 20, 2011 at 11:22 am

Thanks Lori, Frozen artichokes are convenient, of course fresh is best but I don’t always have the time for them


Yael June 20, 2011 at 11:06 am

Those look so good! Makes me hungry (well I’m always hungry these days). Great pics too!


Sarah June 20, 2011 at 11:23 am

Thanks Yael


Randy June 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Great story! Those stuffed artichokes look amazing. I think I’ll try out this recipe this weekend :)


Arunah June 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Now, Sarah, please tell us more about these delightful little glass containers with olives, parsley and preserved lemons… they’re just irresistible !
By the way, the recipe sounds great ! ( I’ll go the easy way… frozen artichoke bottoms… )


tasteofbeirut June 20, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I had seen a similar recipe on a French site, but had no idea it was a Sephardic Moroccan dish; the recipe I saw did not have a sauce either; I was planning to make it and so now I will rely on yours which is much better!


Sarah June 21, 2011 at 12:58 am

Thanks Joumana, There is another sephardic Syrian recipe I saw in Poopa Dweck’s Aromas of Aleppo cookbook called medias. It is a bit different, the entire artichoke (with leaves included) is split into two, the fuzz cleaned out and then it is stuffed and fried. A friend whose family comes from Spain gave me a recipe called medias using zucchini instead.


Alan Cooke June 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Those are making me hungry and I JUST ate dinner!! I’m glad to find your blog. I really love trying new foods from different cultures! Looking forward to exploring your site further. @alanecooke


Mimi June 21, 2011 at 12:04 am


As usual, delicious recipe and beautiful photographs to make you want to cook it!


Sarah June 21, 2011 at 12:53 am

thanks Mimi!


Jessie June 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

these look amazing! i’d like to try but i only eat seafood/chicken, is there anything along those lines that you would recommend as a substitution?


Turkey's For Life June 23, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Wow, these look fabulous. We’ve just missed the artichoke season here so we’ll have to wait till next year to try these (Turkey isn’t big on frozen veg yet).


Katherine Martinelli June 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm

These look so amazing! I’ve never had artichokes stuffed with meat before and it looks insanely delicious. I love the long artichoke season here – in New York it is so fleeting! Just the other day I saw artichokes at the market and thought they’d be long gone. Delightful story and recipe, thanks.


OysterCulture July 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm

When I’ve made stuffed artichokes I leave the leaves, I will definitely have to branch out and try this version. It sounds absolutely delicious and I have always had an affinity for the Moroccan way of spicing foods.


Nancie September 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm

This sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing.


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