Tfaya: Moroccan Caramelized Onions With Raisins

Couscous with tfaya garnish
Trevor Huxham/Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
  • Total: 70 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
394 Calories
12g Fat
75g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 394
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 22mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 75g 27%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Protein 4g
Calcium 92mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This classic Moroccan garnish of caramelized onions and raisins is sweetened with honey and seasoned with aromatic spices of ginger, saffron. and cinnamon. Tfaya is 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 vegetables. You may love it so much you will find even more ways to use it that stray away from Moroccan cuisine.

Although there are references to tfaya which clearly cite red onions, in practice any onion might be used. You can use yellow or white onions if you have them available. The addition of orange flower water is optional and you can substitute rose water for it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 pounds (1 kilogram) 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
  • Optional: 2 to 3 teaspoons orange flower water, or to taste

Steps to Make It

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

  2. Peel and thinly slice the onions. Transfer them to a pot or skillet along with the drained raisins, butter, honey, spices (pepper, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, saffron, salt), and water. Cover the pot 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.

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

  4. You can reheat the tfaya if desired.

The tfaya can be used immediately or allowed to cool and then kept in the refrigerator until it is needed. It should last for about a week when refrigerated.

When serving tfaya with couscous, you will spoon some on top of the dish when it is finished. You can serve it alongside meat as a condiment.

If you have some left over, experiment with using it in in sandwiches (including grilled cheese) to add a wonderful flavor. It also goes well with scrambled eggs for breakfast. As well, you can serve it alongside cheese, crackers, fruit, and nuts as part of a cheese board.

Onions mezgueldi is a similar Moroccan onion condiment, that is made by stewing or baking the onions with spices, omitting the raisins. It can be either sweet or peppery.