Selou is a tasty powdery mix of almonds, sesame seeds, sugar and spices. Moroccans eat the stuff by the spoonful with a glass of sweet mint tea during Ramadan, or when they’ve just given birth. It also keeps well, so as a side project last week I decided to make a batch, with Zahra’s close supervision, of course.
A little side fact: Selou is called Sfouf in the Rabat/Casablanca region, and Zoumaita in the Middle Atlas. Perhaps it has other names and other ingredients elsewhere in the country, but this is how we made it.
The process is labor intensive. First, I bought a kilo of raw almonds in their skins. I blanched them to easily slip the skins off, then toasted them in oil.
The sesame seeds in the shops are sold in big dirty bulk bags, so they were washed and then laid out to dry in the sun.
Then Zahra and I sifted through the entire kilo to make sure there weren’t any stray rocks, sticks, or other debris. The seeds were toasted without oil on the stove too.
In the blender, I ground the almonds to a rough powder as Zahra pounded the sesame seeds in her heavy brass mortar and pestle. We then sorted through perhaps 1/4 cup of anise, roasted it, and ground it up too.
Then added to the mix is a two kilos of white flour. I took it to the communal oven, where they toasted it to a honey-brown color. We also added a few tablespoons of cinnamon and musca hurra, or gum arabic, which looks like transparent little stones that we ground to a powder.
I mixed all the dry ingredients together as Zahra melted 1/4 kilo of butter in a liter of oil. She slowly mixed it into the dry ingredients, kneaded it a bit, and then spooned the finished selou into containers.