A Girls’ Trip for The Ages
Morocco had long been on my bucket list, so I jumped at the chance to go on a girls trip to Marrakesh a few weeks ago, designed by my friend, Nurit Kahane Haase, from Journeycorp/Tzell.
We toured many of the major sights, the souk and the Medina and enjoyed the belly dancing at each restaurant–we even took our own belly dancing class!
But, I knew I couldn’t leave Marrakesh without taking a cooking class.
Moroccan Cooking Class
First of all, the school is beautiful and is located in a riad which is a small hotel. The class was taught by a dada or traditional Moroccan cook and translated in English and French.
We began by receiving a lesson on the cuisine itself, introducing us to the typical Moroccan spices they use. Their four basics are salt, pepper, ginger and turmeric. In addition, they often use saffron, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and white pepper as well as Ras El Hanout, which is a mixture of ground spices that usually includes: cardamom, nutmeg, anise, mace, cinnamon, ginger, various peppers, and turmeric.
We were then given a lesson in making their traditional mint tea, which is a lot more involved than just putting mint in hot water.
They also explained how to make their preserved lemons which are another prominent ingredient in many of their dishes. They add an intense lemon umami flavor that you will find hard to re-create in a dish without them. You can make your own preserved lemons with this recipe from Serious Eats, or you can purchase some from Amazon. They won’t go bad–so feel free to stock up!
When we went upstairs into the cooking class, we made 2 Moroccan Salads: Eggplant and Tomato, and Salade Taktouka with Bell Pepper and Tomato and a Chicken Tagine. Tagine is a Moroccan stew named after the special conical shaped pottery it’s cooked in. It makes a moist hot cooking environment and also gives a very dramatic presentation.
Even though I couldn’t cut and chop because I fractured my wrist (which is another story altogether), the teachers did it for me, and I loved the entire experience at La Maison Arabe. They give cooking classes almost every day, and I highly recommend it as a great way to experience their culture through learning about their cuisine.
I’ve included the recipe here for the Chicken Tagine from La Maison Arabe and you can get the full experience by purchasing your own tagine, or you can easily replicate it in a Le creuset or a very heavy stock pot.
La Maison Arabe gave us a tagine to take home with us, so I will be testing the recipe back in New York very soon! Let me know if you make it and how it turned out.