Markat Hzina roughly translates to “sauce of the mourning widow”. At a time when women didn’t work outside the home, becoming widowed often meant being poor.
This salsa earned this name because a widow often had it and other simple vegetarian meals when she could no longer afford meat after the death of her husband.
To this day, meat remains considerably more expensive than vegetables therefore many people are vegetarian by force, vegan even as dairy products are quite expensive as well.
I have a soft spot for meals that are known as a poor man’s dinner. They’re often the simplest and healthiest. Like dukkah and tchoutchouka, markat hzina is a poor person’s main dish but widely consumed as a side dish by the not so poor.
In fact, markat hzina is very similar to tchoutchouka; they’re both made with peppers and tomatoes. Tchoutchouka is made with cooked tomatoes and often eaten warm; markat hzina is made with raw tomatoes and seasoned with a light vinaigrette, a bit like a salsa or cold salad.
Markat hzina is the name given to this salad by Moroccan Jews but it is widely prepared by Muslims as well who simply call it salada felfla bi matecha (pepper and tomato salad).
Markat Hzina Recipe (Moroccan Tomato and Pepper Salsa)
4 to 6 servings
- 1 green or red pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
- 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar or lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Step 1: Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Add the diced peppers, tomatoes and garlic. Toss to combine.
Step 2: Serve cold or at room temperature with bread or chips.