Pass the tajine, PLEASE
I love food. Going to Morocco I knew this would be one thing I’d splurge on and indulge in. Trying new dishes, new flavours and new restaurants are one of the best things about travelling. You’ll probably never hear me ask to go to Starbucks or any other fast-food chain while travelling. Nope. Never.
One of my highlights of Morocco was indeed the food. The tajines, the couscous, pastilla, the salad marocain, cafe nousnous, mint tea. It was all delicious. In fact, I don’t think I ever had a meal that was less than delicious. Right now, I’m so hungry I would love nothing more than someone to appear out of my kitchen carrying a tajine for me to enjoy on my balcony. I would cook for myself, but I don’t have a tajine (and me in the kitchen next to never happens).
However, I’m not completely hopeless. I did do a cooking class while I was in Morocco and staying with locals provided me with the opportunity to learn some recipes and about how much effort goes into the dishes. Did you know it takes two hours to cook a tajine. And almost three hours to cook couscous correctly. So much for the minute couscous we buy here in the supermarkets. Anyway, cooking class was certainly a highlight of my trip as we (Lhoussain and I) went to the market and bought everything fresh – vegetables, chicken, spices, dates, olives. I thought living in the Byward Market in Ottawa was great, but oh, how I am going to love the markets when I am back there. So I’m sharing with you the recipe I made with my friend Lhoussain while listening to amazing Berber music in the beautiful riad where I stayed (more to come on those highlights).
1. Place meat in the tajine on the stovetop with spices and olive oil. Stir for 50 minutes.
2. Remove the chicken and onions from the tajine. Place carrots on the bottom, and then place chicken and onions on top. Then place the slices of carrot, courgette, and potatoes around the meat. The placement is very important as this provides a base and allows the meat to cook. Let cook for about 50 minutes
3. Add tomatoes, olives and fresh coriander, cumin and pepper. Continue to check the dish every 5 – 10 minutes and add water as necessary. Cook for five more minutes and bon appetit!
Just as an aside, it is not Moroccan culture to eat in restaurants, rather they tend to cook at home. Instead of lunching at a cafe one afternoon in Marrakesh, my friends cooked me my favourite tajine – kafta with eggs – at home. Stayed tuned for the recipe!