Moroccan Stewed and Caramelized Onions - Onion Mezgueldi

caramelized onions
Cultura RM Exclusive/Diana Miller/Getty Images
  • 100 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 90 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

The Moroccan tradition of cooking onions with spices until caramelized is mostly associated with tfaya, a sweet onion and raisin garnish famously used as a topping for couscous. Here, however, is a lesser known onion garnish known as mezgueldi.

While traditional caramelized onions are prepared by sauteing, Moroccan spiced mezqueldi onions are slowly stewed stove top. Alternatively the onions can be baked in the oven. Although some recipes call for briefly boiling the onions first, it's really not necessary. Neither is stirring – just leave the onions undisturbed unless you'd like to pop them under the broiler for extra color at the end. 

I'm providing two variations – a peppery mezgueldi sweetened with sugar and cinnamon; and a second that's robustly seasoned with paprika, cumin and cayenne. They're adapted from recipes by Moroccan television chef Choumicha and Kayotic Kitchen.

Serve the onions as a garnish to grilled meats, tagines or poultry dishes, or make a vegetarian meal out of them by serving alongside Moroccan bread and a cheese such as Edam .

Also try Chicken Mezqueldi 

What You'll Need

  • Mezgueldi With Cinnamon:
  • 1 kg/2 lbs. 3 oz. yellow onions (or white onions)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 to 20 turns of a pepper mill (coarse grind)
  • Optional: pinch of saffron threads (crumbled)
  • Mezgueldi M'chermel:
  • 1 kg/2 lbs. 3 oz. yellow onions (or white onions)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or black pepper)
  • Optional: pinch of saffron threads (crumbled)
  • Optional: small piece of cinnamon stick

How to Make It

  1. Cut the onions into 1/4" thick slices, leaving the rings intact.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add the onions and gently stir to coat them with the seasoning. Try not to separate the onion rings while you mix.
  3. Transfer the onions to a wide, deep skillet, tagine or baking dish. Swirl a tablespoon or so of water in the bowl to cleanse it of the spices and it to the onions. Cover the onions and cook slowly over medium-low heat (or bake in a 375 F (190 C) oven) for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the onions are very soft and caramelized. Uncover and continue cooking if necessary to reduce the liquids.
  1. If you like, brown the tops of the onions under a broiler before serving.
  2. Serve mezgueldi onions as a side dish or as a garnish for couscous, tagines and grilled meats. The onions may also be eaten with crusty bread like a dip.
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 321
Total Fat 19 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Unsaturated Fat 13 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 15 mg
Carbohydrates 38 g
Dietary Fiber 7 g
Protein 4 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)