I have recently returned from my Moroccan journey, and I am forever changed in my love of spices. The richness of the country, is in it's spices in my opinion. I have never seen, tasted, or smelled such pungent, and varied flavors. I wanted to record when I got home about all that I have seen, tasted, and hopefully share some cooking tips with my listeners from locals on the trip!
I love to cook, and made finding some cooking classes while I was there a top priority. In fact, the first night I arrived after my flight, I contacted a local family to see if I could join them for dinner, and help prepare the meal. Khadija'a Kuzina was the easiest choice I had to make before I arrived. They responded instantly, warmly, and accommodated me on short notice. I met with them, and had a lovely meal of eggplant appetizer, salad, fresh squeeze juice, and lamb tagine with prunes and almonds. (MY FAV!) It was easily the best food I had in Morocco, and I helped make it, furiously scribbling down recipes, and notes as we cooked. I felt an instant connection to the family, and can't wait to return to visit them again.
Another excellent cooking class I attended was with Fatima, who cooks out of the Hotel Villa Maroc, and I truly enjoyed that she took us into the depths of the markets in Essaouira. Even past what I like to call "Slaughter Alley", where all the live meat is butchered. I will never look at chicken the same way again. Fatima also explained certain spices that otherwise, we would not know what were used for, and that I wanted them in my own kitchen. I myself picked up "top of the shop" spice called Ras el Hanout, a blend of over 70 spices that had me questioning whether I was going to clear US customs, because of how strong the aroma.
Next I visited a spice shop in the town where the owners invited me in for tea. We sat, and discussed his family, and how the spice shop immersed from an old record store. We also discuss some Moroccan traditions, the favorite spices people use, and types of teas the locals drink daily.
Essouira is also known for their Argan oil, using it for their skin, but also, surprisingly to me, in their cooking, and this is the only place I would purchase it. It is a women's CoOp that are gaining their freedom, and being self sufficient by working this Argan facility. We toured it, and met a ton of the ladies that work so hard every day. The oil is incredible, and I mention the salad dressing recipe in the podcast. They DO deliver to the United States! So I don't have to go without it again!
I am truly honored that these folks let me record with them on my travels, to peer into their lifestyles. Cooking is a passion of mine, and I believe no matter how different the culture, sharing that love unites everyone.
I cooked all the recipes I wrote down when I got home for a group of friends, and I am happy to report, that they turned out just the same as when I was there! You would be proud Khadija and Housine! The bread, however, was a disaster. Sometimes you can only have certain experiences while traveling. Oh well, to the next adventure!
Here is the recipe for the prunes that Khadija was describing in the podcast below! Try them with your next tagine!
1 cup prunes
1 tablespoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon rose water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tablespoon tumeric
1 cup water
Cook down until syrupy and soft (AMAZING)
Here are the top foods you should try in Morocco!
Harira-A Traditional Soup
Cous Cous- A grain based main dish in Morocco
Pastila- A sweet and savory stuffed pastry, found a lot in street food. Could be stuffed with Pigeon or chicken.
Zalook- Eggplant salad made with tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, parsley, lemon. Served as a salad or appetizer
Grilled Sardines- Nuf said. Get them near the coast. Delish!
Macooda- Fried potato balls (Street food)
Tagine- My absolute favorite! Order the lamb with prunes.
Steamed Sheep Head- I haven't tried this, but it is on my list for next time!
Mint Tea- Served everywhere
Cookies- EAT THEM ALL
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