“Welcome to Psychedelicatessen, a weekly column exploring the world of cannabis cuisine, including recipes from the great chefs and ganjapreneurs who fuel our appetite for adventure.”
One of the oldest known pot foods is a heady jam, thick with dried fruits, chopped nuts and prized spices. Favored by Moroccans, denizens of the Middle East and other Mediterranean peoples, this potent concoction is known colloquially as mahjoun, mahjoum or mazhoum. High Times first mentioned mahjoun in 1978, when writer J. F. Burke included a rudimentary recipe in his groundbreaking article on pot foods entitled simply, Eat It! Reportedly served by a Greek sailor, the cannabis-infused jam looked like green nougat or pistachio ice cream. Burke writes:
“Mahjoum is very simple to prepare, and there are as many ways to prepare it as you like. I have extracted a basic recipe from many mahjoums tasted here and abroad. Mix crumbled hashish with raw sugar and powdered arrowroot, add sweet butter and mix thoroughly. Then add a little honey and chopped, unsalted pistachios. Adjust proportions for consistency and taste. Mold mixture into bite-size portions and allow to set. No cooking required. If you can’t get hashish, use grass; it doesn’t taste like mahjoum made with hash, but it works. Of course it works. It contains the magic molecule.”
After eating mahjoun and embarking on a psychedelic “Arabian Nights experience that lasted three days,” Burke missed his return ship home.
Mahjoun was also popular with American expats who traveled in Morocco, including notable writers such as William Burroughs and Paul Bowles, who hung out in Tangiers getting high. Many Western hippies indulged in the hashish culture that typified Morocco in those days, including a young man named Rick Peck. With his long, tightly curled hair and eyes outlined in black coal, this dashing young man somewhat resembled the fictional pirate Jack Sparrow.
Peck spent several years traveling in Morocco, meeting nomadic Berber tribes in the Sahara. Eating hashish jam was a traditional form of self-healing for the Berbers, who often consume mahjoun after their evening meal. While in Marrakesh, Rick was gifted a Berber mahjoun recipe — handwritten in Mikribi.
After deciphering the Arabic-French dialect, he shared the ingredients list with his sister, Deborah Schatan. “The original included some non-physical items,” as Deborah recalls the recipe she was given over forty years ago, “such as starlight. I adapted the recipe slightly and removed the beetle wings.”
Now Schatan has revived the mystical formula and is marketing Mahjoun to a new generation of cannabis enthusiasts through her new company, Edible Complexe. “I held really steadfast to the tradition of the recipe,” Deborah explains, “I first tried it when I was 19, and I’ve never forgotten that taste.”
As Burke noted in Eat It!, there are “as many ways to prepare [mahjoum] as you like,” and such a simple recipe inspires countless variations. Schatan’s recipe is deeply flavorful, redolent with over 30 spices and a flavor that’s sweet as well as savory. Schatan uses a cannabis concentrate along with the best quality nuts, dried fruits, floral essences and rare spices to create her hand-rolled small batches of Mahjoun balls, which have a soft consistency (not unlike a parking lot gooball).
“I nailed my recipe!” Deborah exclaims, “the Mahjoun opens up with an energetic feeling and then mellows into a nice fuzzy place.”
Containing 100 milligrams of THC, each ball of Mahjoun is large enough that it can be divided into 5 smaller balls about the size of a marble. Just one small 20 mg ball is perfect if you want to feel relaxed, and the euphoria comes on quickly with Mahjoun. Most eaters feel their dose within 20 to 30 minutes.
Schatan’s Mahjoun is definitely a health-positive option that’s perfect for yogis, cancer patients, and anyone who is looking for nutritious, delicious cannabis foods. Her recipe is gluten-free, lactose-free and contains no added sugar. Look for this wonderful product around the San Francisco Bay Area in finer dispensaries such as Barbary Coast, Lifted Health & Wellness, Silicon Valley Arc and Herbal Cruz.
We’ve prepared a Mahjoun Panna Cotta that uses Deborah’s cannabis-infused product as an ingredient. If you are unable to obtain mahjoun, try making your own (recipe follows), or use a cannabis-infused chocolate bar for a double whammy!
Mahjoun Panna Cotta
1 cup whole milk
2 1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 ounces of your favorite chocolate bar
1-2 ounces (1-2 balls) MAHJOUN™ broken into small pieces (Carefully note dosage)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Lightly grease six 3/4-cup souffle cups or glass custard cups with vegetable oil.
• Pour milk into medium bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over; let stand until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.
• Stir cream and sugar in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves.
• Bring to boil. Remove from heat.
• Add chocolate, whisk until melted. Add Mahjoun and blend well.
• Whisk warm chocolate/MAHJOUN™ mixture into gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve. Stir in vanilla.
• Divide mixture among prepared cups.
• Cover and chill 24 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)
• Garnish with cocoa powder and fruit.
Basic Mahjoun Recipe
Makes 8 balls
This isn’t nearly as good as Deborah’s recipe, since it lacks the exotic flavors of her version, but it’s a basic mahjoun that whips up quickly from ingredients many people stock in their pantries. Experiment by adding your own spices to create a unique version of this classic treat!
½ cup of raw shelled pistachios
1 teaspoon hash
4 large Medjool dates, pitted
2 tbsp butter, melted (or cannabutter)
¼ tsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp tumeric
1/8 tsp salt
Use a food processor to grind pistachios to a meal. If your hash is chunky or hard, add it to the food processor to break it up.
Add dates and process until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Add melted butter, arrowroot, honey, sugar, cinnamon, tumeric and salt and process until combined.
Scoop mixture into tablespoons and form into balls with your hands. If mixture is too crumbly, add more honey and mix. If it is too wet, add more ground nuts.