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Making a Moroccan Meal

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April 3, 2014 / Moroccan / By
Naomi Doyle

I’d been in Marrakech for a few days already with my friend; Elizabeth and we’d traversed the famous Jemaa el Fna souk (marketplace) several times, always to a constant barrage of unsolicited male attention. We were braced for more of the same when we rendezvoused with Gemma from Souk Cuisine to begin our days cooking class with a trip through the market to buy our fresh ingredients. What we encountered however was quite the opposite!

Each of our small group (six people) was given a shopping bag, some local currency and a shopping list. Gemma led us into the heart of the market and introduced us to local vendors who extended to us all the goodwill they had for her. We were taken in with such warmth, hospitality and generosity that we might otherwise have not experienced. Not only was it a welcome reprieve from the constant hassling, it was a privileged insight into the day-to-day life of the local community. We were talked through the different ingredients, unique cooking methods and special equipment used. We even met the man who proudly appeared along side Jamie Oliver in a Moroccan special.

We visited the local bakery that also doubled as a community oven. It was explained to us that most people don't have ovens in their homes so they prepare their own dough or other food in clay jars and take it to the bakery, drop it off to be cooked and pick it up when it's done. 

When told our last stop was the 'supermarket', I had envisioned leaving the market to go to a place with aisles and bright lighting as opposed to a hole in a wall with a man able to find anything you could wish for in a compact cavern behind him.

With everything crossed off our shopping lists, we were led down a narrow alley just off the souk to a half-size door through which we stepped down into Gemma's own riad and home of the cooking school. It was so peaceful and bright inside that it was hard to imagine we were only meters away from the chaos of the marketplace. We were given aprons and a run down of the day’s menu that consisted of 

  • Moroccan salad
  • Zucchini salad
  • Sweet cucumber salad with thyme
  • Carrot salad with almond and raisins
  • Zaahlouk
  • Sardines with chermoula
  • Couscous with sweet onions and raisins

 

We set about our tasks in a very social and collaborative manner aided by Gemma and two local women whose family recipes we were using. The cous cous took two hours to be triple steamed, the sardines had to be run down to the bakers for cooking so while we were waiting, we had time to whip up a batch of Moroccan cookies for later.

And then came the best bit - eating! We sat around a long table and got stuck into a meal so delicious none of us quite believed we'd made it ourselves (albeit with a lot of help and preparation by the ladies from Souk Cuisine). We were even treated to a few bottles of Moroccan wine, which was strange to see given the tough Moroccan laws around alcohol consumption.

The day had been as full as we were. The time came to say goodbye and go our separate ways, disappearing back into the market feeling much more a part of it for all that had been shared with us over the course of the day. In turn, I’d like to share with you my favourite recipe from the menu:

Zaahlouk

  • ¼ kg eggplant
  • 4 tomatoes
  • ½ tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. fresh coriander finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. groud paprika
  • pinch of ground chilli pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • Vegetable oil

Wash the eggplants and remove 4 strips of the skin lengthways. Cut the eggplant into 2cm slices and place them in water with salt. Peel and chop the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in a pan with parsley, coriander, spices, salt, garlic and olive oil and simmer until dry. Drain eggplants well and fry in vegetable oil until golden. Puree the eggplants and add them to the tomatoes. Add the vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve lukewarm or cold.

 

Stay tuned for more of my adventure here on Eat the Globe or on my Patches McGee travel blog.


Souk Cuisine Cooking School

Country: Morocco

Province/State: Marrakesh-Tensift-El Haouz

City: N/A

Address: N/A

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: N/A

Phone: N/A

Website:www.soukcuisine.com...

Price Guide:$$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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