The cooking classes the Art of Moroccan Cuisine
A Culture of Eating, Drinking, and Being Hospitable
Price: (English Speaking Guide)
For Resident Guests:
€20 per person (for up to 3 people)
€12 per person (more than 3 people)
€40 per person (for up to 3 people)
€30 per person (more than 3 people)
They are private and can be tailor made to suit your needs and dietary requirements. Courses can be arranged in the morning or afternoon.
HISTORY AND INFLUENCES
An Introduction and History of Moroccan Cooking. Drawing from Arab, Berber, Jewish, African and French traditions, Moroccan cuisine is widely recognized and provides a healthy diet. Morocco is home to an abundance of locally grown fresh food, due to the wonderful year round climate and extensive irrigation. Used with an imaginative range of spices, herbs and oils, the produce creates a distinct range of tasty meals including Tajines, Couscous, Salads and Berber flat breads. A wander round a souk gives you a sense of the immense range of fresh vegetables and fruits available to Moroccan families and chefs.
Our Berber Cookery Courses with local family. If you are expecting some sort of regimented classroom style cookery course then its best you do not read any further. Our Moroccan, Berber cooking courses are more about spending some quality time in a beautiful location and taking a more intimate and personal approach towards the Berber style of cooking: By definition, most Berber cuisine is ‘slow food’ and the Berbers themselves seldom rush anyway so you need to be somewhere scenic, atmospheric and relaxed at the same time. It’s all part and parcel of the Berber experience. You experience the cooking from start to finish, from buying the spices and fresh produce at the weekly markets*, to enjoying the meal while soaking in the lush mountains and village life surrounding you. The cookery courses are run by ourselves an experienced Berbers cooks. Lahcen or the guide , will do the translation to English & French and will be assisting in the course as you learn about the techniques of traditional of Berber cooking. Our cook provides a wealthy source of information in Moroccan cuisine, cooking methods, and spices. Dishes are cooked in traditional earthenware Tajines on a Majmar, a charcoal burning brazier.
We offer classes as a chance to spend more time exploring the region and its cuisine at the same time. Our courses cover tajin , couscous, meshwi Berber-style barbeque, tea making …it is a fun and exciting cooking experience in a Berber town .Whichever course you choose, our goal is for all of our travelers to go home with some new recipes, new techniques and wonderful memories here is Some examples of the dishes available include:
* Chicken Tajine with picked lemons and olives,
* Beef Tajine with figs and walnuts,
* Beef with dates and almonds,
* Lamb or Chicken Cous Cous with seasonal vegetables (vegetarian options are also available).
Moroccan households have an oven; almost every neighborhood has a community oven where people take their bread dough to be baked. In the countryside, every family has its own traditional oven made of mud and clay.bread has several names and takes many rolled shapes ,with flour, yeast, salt and water all the ingredients are mixed then with both hands we knead it into a dough and finally into a flat rolled dough that we bake inside the earthen oven, it is really delicious and different from that you eat in Marrakech.
After the cookery lesson you can sit back and sip Moroccan mint tea and wait for your day’s labour to form into a delicious, home cooked, fresh meal. it is a fun and exciting cooking experience in a Berber town .Whichever course you choose, our goal is for all of our travelers to go home with some new recipes, new techniques and wonderful memories.
Moroccan Mint Tea, or what Moroccans will jokingly call “Moroccan whiskey”, is the national icon for hospitality. The ingredients are simple, since the tea used is a standard Chinese gunpowder tea. However, the preparation and service are fine-tuned and essential when welcoming a guest. Just like many Asian countries, Morocco has a tea ceremony of its own. People drink tea informally all day in between meals. But any time a visitor enters a house, the first thing that he or she must be offered is tea. When members of two different tribes meet to discuss issues of the region or politics, a tea ceremony is required before getting into politics. Mint tea is traditionally served in small glasses, although some tea shops will serve it to you in tall glasses with the mint inside. When it is served, the person pouring the tea holds the teapot high above the glasses so as to create a little foam in each person’s glass. See Lahcen’s recipe for a Moroccan mint tea recipe. Moroccans tend to like their tea extremely sweet, but you may choose to use less sugar in yours.
SOUPS AND SALADS
Harira is the most important soup in Morocco as it serves as the breaker of the fast during the whole month of Ramadan. During this month, at the break of the fast, harira is accompanied by dates, warm milk, juices, bread and traditional Moroccan pancakes. At the moment of the call to prayer, Moroccans all over the country utter “bismillah” (in the name of God), bite into a date and sip a spoonful of harira – their first taste of food after a long day of fasting. Harira is a tomato-based soup with chick peas, meat, lentils and small noodles.
Moroccan salads can be divided into two types: cooked salads and raw salads. Raw Moroccan salad is made of finely diced tomatoes, cucumber, onions, green pepper and cilantro. It is topped with a regular oil and vinegar sauce. Cooked salads, such as zaalouk, bakoula and choukchouka are made of different combinations of vegetables and spices all cooked together in a pan.
Tagine, also spelled tajine, is an historically Berber dish. It is a stew made of meats and vegetables and traditionally cooked in a conical clay pot to allow the steam to rise, condense and drip back down to the stew. Tagines are traditionally prepared on top of a portable clay majmar (much cheaper than a stove!) under which people put hot coals. Practically anything can be turned into a tajine: meat, chicken, fish, vegetables and some even make it with meat and fruits. Some typical tagine dishes include lamb with dates, lamb with raisins or prunes and almonds, chicken with olives and preserved lemon, chicken with dried apricots, and meatballs (or ketfa) with tomatoes and eggs. Of course, there exist more varieties than this. Every part of the country has its regional tagine dish and different ways of preparing it. Because this meal takes a long time to prepare, the woman of the house starts preparing the lunch tagine as soon as breakfast is over. See Lahcen’s page of recipes for a tagine recipe.
Known in Morocco as seksu, is a traditional Berber dish as well. It is a dish made of fine semolina and topped with meat and vegetables. Couscous is typically made with seven vegetables. To make couscous in the traditional way takes a lot of time and effort. Women separate and mix the grains of semolina by using the palm of their hands and salt water, a process that takes one hour for the semolina alone. Women in some parts of the country still prepare their couscous this way, but most families buy it in packages. Friday is the day of prayer, so it is a Moroccan tradition all over the country to celebrate this day with a couscous meal. Following the custom of eating food with their hands, Moroccans normally eat couscous by rolling it into little balls and popping it into their mouths. The popping motion is important, because if performed inaccurately, the ball will crumble before it makes it to your mouth.
The most common style of barbecuing (”meshwi”) in Arab countries is kabab-style. Every city in Morocco has two kinds of restaurants: the usual sit-down kind and the hole-in-the-wall grill shops. Customers at the grill shops can go either buy their meat there or at the butcher just a few doors down. Both places will chop the meat into cubes, stick it on a skewer and put it over the fire. Although these restaurants are unimpressive in appearance, you are guaranteed a tasty and inexpensive meal.
Barbequing is also a very important part of ceremonies in Berber villages. It is the main course at weddings or in ceremonies honoring an important guest. In villages where every family has a herd of sheep and goats, it is an honor if a family slaughters one from his herd. Berber-style meshwi can be cooked either over a pit or in an oven under the ground, depending on the region. Ceremonies usually take place at night and while the meat is cooking, the celebration commences. People gather around the pit and play drums, sing, dance and talk.
After a big meal, Moroccans usually eat fruit for dessert. This does not mean that sweets don’t exist, however. Moroccans have quite a sweet tooth and they don’t hesitate to snack on heavy cream-filled pastries between meals. Pastries also play an important role in Moroccan society because they are an essential complement to mint tea when welcoming guests into your home. Many Moroccan pastries, such as cornes de gazelle and briouates have an almond paste filling. Some pastries only appear in stores during big religious holidays like Ramadan and the ‘Aid. One of the most popular Ramadan desserts is shibekkya, which is fried in oil and then coated in honey, which makes a sweet and gooey accompaniment to harira.
The Moroccan Spice Cabinet – Moroccan food is marked by the medley of spices found in its dishes. Dried ginger, cumin, salt, black pepper and tumeric is a mixture found in almost every tagine and couscous. Cumin is used in almost every Moroccan dish and is considered so important that it is served on the table along with salt and pepper. Cinnamon can be found in tagines, bisteeya, and fruit salads. Paprika and Sahara chiles are used to spice up some tomato-based dishes, vegetable tagine, and charmoula. The South of Morocco is a source of pure saffron pistils that are used in food, tea and as an herbal medicine. Ras l’hanoot means “the head of the shop”. This spice is a mix of 20-40 different spices concocted by the shop owner. Cardamom is used in cream desserts, like muhallabiya. Sesame seeds are found on pastries and are very important during Ramadan to make special Ramadan desserts like sllou, a sweet and heavy paste made with sesame seeds. Cloves are sometimes used when making broth.
Herbs – Maadnous and qsbour (parsley and cilantro) are always bought together in the Moroccan souks. They are the most commonly used herbs in Moroccan cuisine and essential to almost every dish. Liqama, or mint is the second most important herb since it is used to make Moroccan mint tea. Shiba, or absinthe is illegal in some countries because of its stimulative drug properties. However, in Morocco it is a popular repacement for mint in tea during the winter when mint is out of season. Louisa (verbena) and marjolane are also used in tea and are valued for their healing qualities. Anise is used on pastries and bread. You can find thyme used in desserts, like roasted figs and apricots.
Oils – Olive oil is the best oil to cook Moroccan food with. Morocco has a rich land for olives, although most of the best olive oil is exported and becoming too expensive for the average Moroccan. Therefore, in many households nowadays, you see Moroccans cooking with vegetable oil. Argan oil is a strong, nutty flavored oil that is grown in the South of Morocco, between Essaouria and Agadir. It is not a traditional ingredient in Fassi kitchens, but it is used in the South as a dressing for salads, in desserts, and as a dermatological product. Because of these dermatological properties, this oil has also become a hot commodity in some of the luxury European cosmetic stores as a wrinkle-reducing oil.
Scented Waters – Rosewater and orange flower water are important ingredients in desserts, like cream pastilla, muhallabiya and fruit salads. They are also used in some drinks, like fruit juices.
Dried Fruits and Nuts – Dates are a Moroccan national speciality. They are best grown in the South, from the area of Goulmima to Zagora and the Draa Valley. They are essential during the month of Ramadan, when they accompany harira as the breaker of the fast. They are also widely used in tagines. See Lahcen’s recipe for lamb tagine with prunes and dates. Figs, dried apricots and prunes are some other dried fruits which are served in tagines. Almonds and walnuts are the most commonly used nuts in Morocco. Both are used in pastilla. Almonds are used in tagines alongside dried apricots.
Preserves – Morocco is known for its olives and other exciting preserves. Olives are not just a tasty before-dinner snack. When you go to the olive vendor, you will find three different colors of olives: red, green and black. The red and green ones are used in many tagine recipes. The black ones can be stuffed with cheese in briouates. Preserved lemons are another key ingredient in many tagine recipes and some salads. Harissa is a Moroccan hot-sauce which is used to spice up kababs, couscous, marinades and some tagines.
For breakfast, many Moroccans eat bread with olive oil, tea, and different kinds of Moroccan crepes. Lunch is the big meal in Moroccan households. Members of the family come home from work and school and they all sit around a low table in the salon. Traditionally, a female member of the family comes before the meal with a kettle of water, soap, an aluminum basin and a dishtowel which she hangs over her forearm. She comes around to every person at the table, pours a little water on their hands to wash with soap and then rinse. With everyone gathered around one big plate, the meal starts when the head of the family says “bismillah” (in the name of God). Using their right hand and a piece bread to scoop up the food, the feast begins! At lunch in most houses, you will find a selection of salads and a tagine or couscous all put out on the table at the same time. Then the host will clear the table, bring out a fruit plate and serve tea. Since lunch is so big, dinner is usually low-key. People sometimes eat leftovers from lunch or they might prepare a soup. The exception to this is big occassions, like weddings, which are always held at night and feature an enormous feast. The meal starts with a pastilla. Next, comes the tagine (either chicken or meat). After that, the couscous is served. Then comes a fruit plate. Finally, when you think that you don’t have an inch of room left in your stomach, the host serves mint tea with almond-filled pastries.
Weekly Souk days for workshops Are:
Tuesday – Tahanout,
Wednesday – Ijokake ,
Thursday – Ouirgane,
Saturday – Asni.
Souk experience is available at an extra cost.