Bortokal Slata: Dressed Sweet Oranges

After this post I promise not to make more Moroccan food for…at least a few days.  And then maybe I’ll wait before I post about it, just in case you’re feeling a bit saturated.  Speaking of saturation, that’s exactly how you feel after a good Moroccan meal.  Full.  Spice-laden.  Languid.  Movement becomes unnecessary….or at the very least, you won’t be compelled to do so and it takes a lot more effort than you would have imagined. Lamb and chicken sit heavily in the gullet, couscous and potatoes spackle themselves to the inner walls of your stomach, and everytime you smack your lips you taste cinnamon and spice.  But….that’s not a bad thing.

However, after eating such a nice, rich, full bodied meal, you won’t be craving cheesecake – that much I can guarantee.  You’ll want something light and somewhat refreshing.  For the same reason that mint tea is always served as a soothing digestion aid after the meal, a typical Moroccan dessert will prominently feature fresh fruit and not a lot of heavy or sugared fats.

Bortokal Slata is a very typical Moroccan dessert.  And…and it’s easy.  Shamefully so, to the point where I questioned whether or not to even put this post up but then decided to do it anyway because I haven’t done too much cooking this week.  Not by choice, but things are quite busy at work.  That’s okay, though.  A bit of OT comes in handy around Christmas.  Anyway, back to dessert.  As the title says, this is simply fresh orange slices that are lightly dressed with aromatic orange blossom water and a wee touch of spice.  However, this is one dish where the net is really more than the sum of it’s parts.  Also, the orange blossom water captures just enough spirit that you actually feel like you’re eating a nice, light dessert…instead of, thinking, “Who’s the chump that just served me oranges?  And why is she my friend?”

Bortokal Slata:  Dressed Sweet Oranges

Serves 6

  • 5 large, sweet oranges
  • 1 tbsp orange blossom water *
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
  • 1/3 cup blanched slivered or matchstick almonds

* Orange blossom water is available at most Middle Eastern or East Asian grocery stores.  If you’re not a fan of orange blossom water, try making this with rose-water, quince (instead of oranges) and chopped dates (instead of pomegranate seeds)…the almonds can stay 😉

This is normally where I would put a picture of the ingredient scope, or the mis en place as people (who aren’t me) like to say.  However, since I forgot to take that, here’s a picture of my cat wearing Mike’s sandals.

Cut the top and bottom off of the oranges, which will make it easier to peel.  Slice down the exterior just below the peel to get as much off as possible.  If a wee bit of pith remains, well, that’s okay.  It adds character.

Using a sharp knife (serrated works well) slice across the oranges thinly into 1/4 inch disks.  Lay these flatly on a platter and drizzle the orange blossom water on top.  Give them a nice toss to let the orange blossom water seep in, and then arrange them prettily on the platter.  Cover this, and tuck it into the fridge to chill until just before you want to serve dessert.


Just before you’re ready to serve the oranges, sprinkle the cinnamon on top in 3-4 long horizontal lines.  Lay the pomegranate seeds down the middle of the platter, and sprinkle the almonds evenly over everything.

Sure, it’s not much to look at and it rather resembles a tropical tiger, but oh baby is it welcome after a heavy Moroccan meal.

And if you want to garnish with some freshly cut mint, well, who am I to stop you?

Sometimes, simplicity really is best.

  • Mike

    This post featured a shot of a cat wearing shoes. That’s how you my insanity is slowly, but inexorably, rubbing off on Tina.

    In other news, this is such a light and refreshing finish to a meal. Moroccans don’t do desserts much, probably because they’re too full all the time, but with simple and beautiful items like these they don’t have to. It makes the French look like they’re just trying too hard.

  • Kristie

    DON’T TALK THAT WAY ABOUT FRENCH DESSERTS, MIKE!!! Complicated desserts are my reason for living. This looks great, Tina. And if the rest of the meal went well, and you talk sweetly to your little Moroccan dessert, you get UNDRESSED sweet oranges (bow chikka wowwow). Are those pomegranate seeds, lil’ citrus friends, or are you just happy to see me?

    Oh God. I’ve finally cracked.

  • Kristie

    I almost forgot to tell you. Your cat is adorable. More funny pet pictures are always welcome on food blogs. At least, that’s how I justify all of mine…

  • noble pig

    It’s beautiful. It’s been years since I was in Casablanca but I will never forget the wonderful food.

  • Astra Libris

    One can never have too much Moroccan food! Your dressed oranges are absolutely beautiful, and the perfect dessert…

    and your cat is SO adorable!!!

  • Tina

    Kristie – so true. You don’t like the recipe? You think the final dish looks like slop? HEY – LOOK! IT’S A CAT WEARING SANDALS!!!!!

    Noble Pig – mmm….I would LOVE to go to Casablanca one day. And if I get that opportunity, I promise to only make one hackneyed movie joke per day.

    Astra Libris – thank you!! I’m so glad that you liked the post!

  • Nanco

    Wondering if you’ll have any Christmas baking up on here. I have a cookie exchange in a week and a half and don’t know what to make… 🙂

  • Choosy Beggar Tina

    I haven’t started any Christmas baking yet, but thanks for lighting that fire under my rump!!! I’ll get on that this week!