One of our friends, Katrina, is a master of food and she booked us a cooking glass in Marrakesh to learn all about Moroccan cuisine.
It didn’t take us too long to get to know the staple dishes in Moroccan cuisine, but this class was a great introduction. And it was also, by chance, the fanciest cooking class we’ve ever attended. Case and point: TV screens, a kitchen full of chefs, and beautiful grounds full of fresh herb and veggie gardens!
Bread is a staple component to every Moroccan meal. It seems you cannot sit down for a meal without being immediately handed a basket of fresh bread. Bread is used as a replacement for a fork, as a vehicle for absorbing juices, or as the primary sustenance for breakfast complimented with a series of marmalades (as pictured below, a typical Moroccan breakfast).
Until only recently, almost all Moroccans would make their own bread at home, and often at least twice a day. Traditionally, the dough would be made at home and then brought to a shared community stone oven to be baked. There are still many of these communal ovens which can be found while wandering around the medinas, one of which we couldn’t help but stumble into when the smell of fresh bread lead us to it’s tiny window:
With the changes that come with a faster paced life, Moroccans now tend to buy their bread at the market each morning. The custom of making bread at home is mostly a party of rural and village life now.
Since a large portion of our diet consisted of bread, we came to know the different types of Moroccan bread fairly quickly. Here were our favorites:
“Pebble Bread”: a deliciously crisp on the outside/soft on the inside type of bread, which we ate dipped into honey or argan oil. We termed it “pebble bread”, because when the bubbly bread was taken out of the oven, a few pebbles from the stone oven would stay stuck onto it.
“Coin Bread” (Msemet): My personal favorite. This bread is better known as the Moroccan pancake, but tastes like a delightful flaky crepe! We termed it “coin bread” because when we ordered it off the street and went to pay the lady making it, she paused from her kneading, used her heavily oiled hands to handle and pocket the coins, and then without hesitation returned to kneading it.
The most special and unique part of eating in Morocco is the method of cooking and eating out of a tagine. This triangular clay pot sits atop the stove or fire, and after throwing in all your ingredients, cooks it all together. The top is then removed and bottom placed onto the table for eating. One dish for all!
Popular tagine dishes include chicken coloured yellow with tumeric, roasted lamb with fruit, or couscous with vegetables or raisins. I can’t say we’ve had many meals in Morocco where a tagine hasn’t made an appearance!
Tea: How High Can You Go?
If there is anything more of a staple to a Moroccan meal than bread, it’s tea. Tea starts and finishes every meal, is the center of any gathering, and is a way to greet guests or show your appreciation.
Tea is made in a cute silver pot. With hot water, a handful of herbs (often mint or green tea), and a big chunk of sugar (see above). The tea is then poured into little glass cups from sky high, making it quite the impressive show. It also resulted in many tea spilling experiences as we tried to emulate this skill.
It’s impolite to refuse a cup of tea, so grab a seat and enjoy if you’re offered one!
We booked our cooking class through one of the local hotels – La Maison Arabe. We had a great time at the cooking class and would highly recommend it. We were taken from the hotel via private shuttle to an offsite location where they had a demonstration kitchen with individual cook stations for each of us.
We ended up making bread in a traditional oven, two Moroccan salads, a chicken tagine, and some cookies and pastry for dessert. After the class we were able to dine on the food we prepared. Wine was also available for purchase with the meal. At the end of the class we were given a certificate of completion and a small tagine to take home as a souvenir. This class can be booked here.