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