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Moroccan Sheep or Calf Brain in Tomato Sauce


Moroccan Sheep or Calf Brain in Tomato Sauce

Moroccan Mokh (Brains) in Zesty Tomato Sauce

Photo © Christine Benlafquih

Brains (mokh in Arabic) are among the many variety meats enjoyed by Moroccans, particularly when they have them on hand after a home slaughter at Eid Al-Adha. One such dish is sheep or calf brain simmered in a zesty tomato sauce with garlic, herbs and Moroccan spices. Although the recipe as written here is intended as a side, it may be prepared in much larger quantity and offered as a tagine entree. Either way, tradition is to scoop up the offal and sauce with pieces of Moroccan bread.

As with other organ meat, it's best to cook the brains as soon as possible after you acquire them. Be sure to remove and discard the thin, blood-tinged membrane which covers the brains.

Also try Brains in Preserved Lemon Sauce.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 3 to 4 as a side


  • 2 or 3 sheep brains (or 1 calf brain)
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, grated (skin discarded)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin


Wash the Brains. Soak the brains briefly in a bowl of hot water. Use a knife or your fingers to remove the clear, blood-tinged membrane which covers the brains. Rinse the brains. Fill a large bowl with cold salted water and leave the brains to soak while you prepare the sauce.

Make the Tomato Sauce. Place the tomatoes, garlic, oil, herbs and spices in a medium saucepan or pot. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until a thick sauce forms, about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Cook the Brains. Drain the brains, rinse again, and cut them into small pieces about the size of large walnuts. Add them to the tomato sauce and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until tender and cooked through. Stir gently once or twice during cooking.

Serve the brains with tomato sauce either warm or at room temperature. Leftovers may be refrigerated and reheated gently on the stove.

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