Diet khlii? Seriously?! That’s what I thought when I saw it at the supermarket. I read the label again; it clearly said “khliaa régime“. It seemed like an aberration and sure did raise question and exclamation marks in my mind but they were shortly followed by a smile.
I smiled the whole time I was reading the ingredient list. A “fatless” khlii made with camel meat and preserved in olive oil and spices. Nothing else. How hot is that! I love it when somebody comes up with a healthy solution like this one. I love it when somebody actually sits down and thinks about better ways to do things. Yeah baby, a planner with a few solutions up his sleeve is definitely hot, even when it comes to making khlii.
And so, health-conscious me, who hasn’t had the “real” khlii -pictured below- in over 15 years, and had no plans whatsoever to buy it anytime soon, saw her reticences melt away one by one like ice cubes on a summer day. I strode to the register faster than I can ever walk to pay the 70 dirham price tag, cutting the queue, cursing back at the angry line standers, and ran home with it.
Most Americans are not familiar with khlii. Those who are wrongly think it’s disgusting because they believe it’s rotten meat. Khlii is not rotten, it is simply meat that was sun-dried for days then cooked and stored in melted animal fat in a cool, dark place. The fat hardens and acts as a preservative for the meat. When you want to cook it, you simply fish it out of the fat, scrape off the excess fat fragments (or not) and cook it in a tagine or omelet. It is quite delicious, and if it weren’t for my aversion to animal fat, I’d be having it more often. It is not disgusting at all, not any more than other meats preserved in fat are. What you don’t want to do is eat it right out of the fat, as is, without cooking it. It definitely needs to be warmed to melt all the fat away and bring the dormant flavors back to life.
Adding a few pieces of khlii to your stew to serve over couscous is the ultimate deliciousness. Cooking it with fried eggs and serving it for breakfast is also common practice.
Diet khlii has not made it to the US yet but to get a taste of the original, click here. Khlii is a must-try, if only once in a lifetime, to see how far, deep and complex flavors can get.