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Tfaya - Moroccan Caramelized Onions with Raisins



Couscous with Tfaya Garnish

Trevor Huxham/Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This classic Moroccan garnish of caramelized onions and raisins is sweetened with honey and seasoned with aromatic spices of ginger, saffron and cinnamon. It's popular as a topping for couscous or meat dishes, but you might also like to present it over rice, grilled meats, roasted poultry or even veggies.

Although I've seen references to tfaya which clearly cite red onions, in practice I've observed that any onion might be used. I personally tend to use yellow or white.

The addition of orange flower water is optional and may be substituted with rose water.

Also try Onions Mezgueldi.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 kg (about 2 lbs.) onions
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons orange flower water, or to taste (optional)


Place the raisins in a bowl and cover with water. Set aside to soak for 15 minutes or longer. Drain before using.

Peel and thinly slice the onions. Transfer them to a pot or skillet along with the drained raisins, butter, honey, spices and water. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and simmer for a half hour or longer, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and golden. Add more water only if the liquids evaporate before the onions are cooked.

Once the onions are buttery soft and richly colored, reduce the liquids to a thick syrup. Stir in orange flower water to taste. Remove the caramelized onions from the heat and set aside until needed. Reheat if desired.

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