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Marrakesh:”A Berber tagine, zaalook & meloui”



Our talented and masterful Moroccan cooking class chef


There are four traditional Moroccan dishes--cous cous; tagines, named after the ceramic dish designed by the Berbers in which the food is cooked; skewers; and the Andalusian-based pastilla, small filo parcels filled with chicken and almonds. We were on a mission for Moroccan tagines dishes and ventured into the heart of the medina to join a Moroccan cooking experience. The laneways of the medina are elbow width. To get to the Lotus Chef Cooking School, you enter the medina right, turn right again, turn right a third time, walk straight, avoid the motorcycle coming behind you, move left and one final time right and there we are at the doorway to the Lotus Chef Cooking School, Zefriti, Medina, Marrakech. If you turned left when you should have turned right and hitched a ride with the motorcycle, go directly to the Medina entrance and start again.


The laneways of the Medina


Moroccan homes are designed so that you don't enter straight into a room of the house directly from the entrance. You turn left or right and move through an entrance passageway, almost like a mini medina, before arriving in the house. The entrance often has a full length mirror to frighten intruders. You can give yourself a fright looking in the mirror, too, if you've had a bad hair day. We found our way and the demonstrations began. We prepared and then consumed our own lunch. Food always taste better when you make it yourself.


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Correct, we had to cook the meal before we could eat lunch. I can hear you saying how difficult that must be cooking your own meal while on holiday through the wonderful Morocco. It's, dare I say it, so extra. Strictly speaking, our wonderful master chef, NAME, alongside our interpreter and helpful cooking staff, demonstrated most of the steps in preparing a vegetable tagine, a chicken terrine with preserved lemon, meloui bread, and several salads. We did the finishing touches, including making a rose petal from the skin of a tomato that you must peel in one long strip or the rose won't work.


The lunch we prepared & it was one of the best meals we’ve tasted. No bias whatsoever.


We came; we cooked; we consumed. And without a touch of modesty or bias, we agreed with each other that our cooked dishes were the best we'd ever had. The tagines included spices from the spice market to add and anhace the fall our sof the tagines, however, the secret ingredient to the tastiest tagine imaginable, is the companionship of our travel buddies and the comraderie we shared. There aren't enough chef's hats to rate this experience. Priceless.


A Moroccan mint tea master class by a master tea maker


But wait, there was a tea ceremony to show us the proper preparation for delicious Moroccan mint tea that is an excellent digestive. It's the Moroccan equivalent of a Japanese green tea ceremony. Tea bags? No way. You'll never drink mint tea any other way from now on. The souks sell vast amounts of fresh mint everyday. Our tea master couldn't stop smiling. If you want to call yourself a Moroccan, you must master pouring the tea from a polished silver teapot filled with fresh mint from a great height. Wonderful to watch and even better to drink the tea.


 

VIDEO: MOROCCON COOKING CLASS & MINT TEA CEREMONY




To conclude our meal, we were presented with a Lotus Top Chef diploma. To quote Darryl Kerrigan in the classic Australian movie The Castle, "That's going straight to the pool room". Finding your way out of the medina can be challenging and daunting, especially when you decide to take a short cut because the road into the medina is blocked to traffic near the mosque. It's Friday and Friday is prayer day at the mosque. By the time you read this, we have either managed to walk our way out of the medina or we're still wandering the medina looking for an exit. If we're not back in three weeks, send a search party. Or bring a wee dram of 18 years old Speyside single malt whisky. Don't panic! Rad will find anyone who wanders; he always does. He has a knack of finding anyone even in the most crowed marketplaces. He sees and guides us always.


Or, the other possibility is that we couldn't resist the delectable food and are continuing to eat the flavoursome, spicy chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives, meloui (bread), zaalook (eggplant) salad, fresh tomato and cucumber salad, and Berber vegetable tagine. It tasted sooooooo good because we prepared the dishes with help from the staff and master chef conducting the cooking school. We have the recipes, have seen the techniques used to cook the scrumptious food and can't wait to cook Moroccan food when we get home. You're all welcome, of course. And we suggest you bring a Rutherglen Scion Grenache 2020 as a wine match to our Moroccan tagine.




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