La Maison Arabe

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Jun 052009
 
Tagines cooking at La Maison Arabe

Tagines cooking at La Maison Arabe

The cooking class with La Maison Arabe is listed as the #1 thing to do in Marrakech by TripAdvisor.  Our host at our Riad also advised us that the class came highly recommended.  It is so popular normally that we weren’t sure we would be able to get in. Luck was on our side, and we were booked in for the Thursday, our last full day in Marrakech.

The class is conducted at the hotel’s “country club,” which has excellent facilities.  The class takes a maximum of 8 people, but on our day there were only 4 in total – us and another couple.  Our translator was Mohammed, who spoke excellent English and gave us a briefing on the basics of Moroccan cookery.

The facilities and the chef

The facilities and the chef

Spice mix (before ground)

Spice mix (before ground)

Moroccan food relies heavily on spices and dried fruit, which is unsurprising given the desert-like climate.  The main spices are salt, pepper, saffron, tumeric and dried ginger (for savoury foods).  Sometimes cinnamon and Ras-el-Hanout are added.  Ras-el-Hanout is a spice mix, bought premixed from a spice merchant.  It can have up to 24 spices included, and each vendor will have his own version.

We prepared a 3 course Moroccan meal.  Firstly, a Moroccan raw salad, which is just tomato, green capsicum and red onion, mixed with a little oil, white wine vinegar, cumin and salt.

Morrocan salad

Moroccan salad

The main course was a tagine – chicken with preserved lemon and olives.  It has salt, pepper, tumeric and saffron, plus coriander and parsley.  You serve it in the tagine, with the skin of the preserved lemon artfully arranged over the chicken.

Tagine of chicken with preserved lemons and olives

Tagine of chicken with preserved lemons and olives

Finally, a simple Moroccan dessert – oranges with icing sugar and cinnamon. It’s simple, but it’s delicious!

Simple but delicious!

Simple but delicious!

Overall, the experience was well worth doing – the setting is beautiful, the translator and chef are lovely and there’s something very satisfying about cooking the meal yourself.

Happy customers!

Happy customers!

Jun 042009
 

Ten things to do in Marrakech

1. Experience the souks with all their chaos and diversity.  Be sure to bargain with a stall owner (but only when you really want the item in question).

Spices in the souks

Spices in the souks

2. Visit le Jardin de Majorelle, wander through the cacti and be inspired by the bold blues and greens, like a Henri Matisse painting.

Majorelle Gardens

Majorelle Gardens

3.  Visit Jamaa el Fna and buy an orange juice from one of the vendors.

Orange juice vendors on the square

Orange juice vendors on the square

4.  Still on Jamaa el Fna, avoid the dentist with his array of molars, the men dressed in red and crazy hats who follow you playing cymbals and the men who try to put their mangy monkeys on your shoulders.

The square at dusk

The square at dusk

5.  Take a break from the hectic crowds and heat and return to your Riad – an oasis in the medina.

Riad de lÓrientale

Riad de lÓrientale

6.  Eat tagine – lots of it.

Tagine with preserved lemons and olives

Tagine with preserved lemons and olives

7.  Drink mint tea – lots of it.  It tastes like chewing gum and is served with lots of sugar!

Minty fresh!

Minty fresh!

8.  Visit the mosques that dot the skyline (although you are not allowed inside unless you are Moslim).

Mosque

Mosque

9.  Buy a pair of babouches, if you can get them down to a reasonable price!

Babouches

Babouches

10. Take the cooking class offered byLa Maison Arabe, and learn some of the secrets of Moroccan cooking.

Cooking at La Maison Arabe

Cooking at La Maison Arabe