16.02.17

A cooking class in Marrakech (+ recipe)

Dada Ayada, our instructor at La Maison Arabe.

Dada Ayada, our instructor at La Maison Arabe.

A cooking workshop taught by a genuine dada: that was MOYI’s unforgettable culinary experience at the magnificent La Maison Arabe hotel, in the heart of the Medina of Marrakesh.

La Maison Arabe, cours de cuisine.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe was named Africa’s top luxury hotel, and took fifth place among luxury hotels worldwide, in the 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards. Founded in 1946 by the Larochette-Sebillon duo, La Maison Arabe quickly became the most sought-after restaurant in the kingdom. Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill were among its many guests!

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

Dadas: a secular tradition
Even in the early days, an army of dadas officiated from behind the scenes. These respected chefs, descendants of black slaves, are the true guardians of Moroccan gastronomy. Fabrizio Ruspoli, the current owner, has continued the tradition.
At 9:30AM on a Wednesday morning in March 2016, class begins on the patio, where we are served mint tea and exquisite pastries. Then we board a shuttle for a fifteen-minute ride to The Kasbah Gardens on the road to Ouarzazate. The location is modern, but nonetheless enchanting. The flourishing gardens are lined with olive trees, and include a kitchen garden brimming with rare herbs.
Dada Ayada, our teacher, has been working at La Maison Arabe for nearly 20 years. Her mother was also a dada, and chef to the great painter Majorelle.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

Tajine makfoul

Tajine makfoul © Sucré Salé

An explosion of flavor
The ten people in our group have come from all over the world to cook this full meal: lamb tagine makfoul, flavored with tomato and caramelized onions; zaalouk (Moroccan baba ghanoush); a traditional Moroccan salad; and cookies.
The class takes place in a friendly atmosphere, with anecdotes thrown in here and there. We each have a younger chef to assist us so we won’t miss any of the great dada’s instructions.
We cut, slice, and season. Within minutes the room is filled with the scent of spices: curcuma, ras el hanout, and saffron.
Soon our main dishes, bursting with brightly colored vegetables, are cooking. We continue our voyage of discovery with a traditional earthen oven, watching in admiration as a special bread, tafarnout, is prepared. Before long the morning is over, and the time has come to enjoy the fruit of our labors. Our journey through time has resulted in a truly mouthwatering meal!

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

La Maison Arabe, the cooking workshop.

Rates
600 Dhs per person for small groups up to 10 people.
Private cooking class: 5,000 Dhs (maximum 8 people).

Tagine Makfoul

Serves 2

Ingredients

 

Ingredients for the Meat:

500 grams / 1 pound lamb meat (cut into chunks)

1 large onion (finely chopped)

1 bunch parsley

1 bunch cilantro

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Water

 

Spices for the Meat:

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cinnamon stick

 

Ingredients for the Makfoul:

2 large onions (preferably a sweet variety of yellow or white)

3 tomatoes

 

Spices for the Makfoul:

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons sugar

Instructions

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Level: Medium

 

Directions for Preparing the Meat:

1- Drizzle the vegetable oil in the tagine. Add the meat, onion, and spices to the tagine. Mix well.

2- Close the tagine using its lid to keep the moisture in; otherwise, the meat will stick to the bottom. On low heat, sear the meat for 15 minutes. Turn the meat over from time to time and add a bit of water if necessary.

3- Pour water in the tagine until the meat is covered. Add the parsley and cilantro. Cover and increase the heat to medium, and let the meat cook for 45 minutes or until done. Check on the tagine from time to time and add water if necessary; there should always be enough sauce on the bottom for the meat not to burn.

 

Directions for Preparing the Makfoul (20 minutes before the meat is done):

1- Peel and slice the 2 onions and 3 tomatoes into very thin slices.

2- 20 minutes before the meat is done, remove the parsley and cilantro from the tagine and place the onion slices on top of and around the meat. Pour some of the sauce from the tagine over the onion slices. Cover and let the onions cook for 10 minutes.

3- Place the tomato slices on top of the onion.

4- Sprinkle 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder and 2 tablespoons sugar over the tomatoes.

5- Cover the tagine and let all the ingredients cook for another 10 minutes.

6- Reduce the heat, uncover, and let the sauce simmer for few minutes until it becomes thick.

 

Serving: Top the meat with the caramelized onions and tomatoes, and serve hot with crusty bread.

 

Cook’s Note: For a deeper sweet flavor, you can replace the sugar with honey!

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