Certified tita activity – cooking class!
While looking for things to do in Marrakech, Noelle stumbled upon a traveler review of Souk Cuisine. It’s a Moroccan cooking class headed by Gemma, a Dutch national who has been living in Marrakech for quite some time now. With the help of Berber ladies, they created Souk Cuisine which introduces tourists to Moroccan delicacies.
We met in front of Cafe de France in Jemaa el Fna, surprised to see a good turnout of guests. Since it was a big group, we were divided into two – one group was led by Gemma, and the other, by Cecile. We went with Cecile’s group, and she gave us a list of all the ingredients we will need. They also provided shopping bags, and small wallets with cash (exactly the amount we need for our ingredients).
As I told you, the souks are a maze of shops, and I can never tell where I am. Angeline and Noelle were our designated navigators, because they were already familiar with the medina. We started with the basics of Moroccan cuisine – spices and olives. While looking for our ingredients, everyone was already doing a mental list of things we will go back for. Hahah! We need to focus! It’s really impossible to walk through the souks without seeing something you want to buy. 🙂
Fresh chicken was also bought. As in, the killed-in-front-of-you kind of fresh. No pictures though, in respect for the departed chicken. 😦
After our first task, we headed to a riad in Derb Tahtah, ready for some cooking. Again, we were welcomed with Moroccan mint tea (I can get used to this), and bread with olives and harissa dip. Another discovery – harissa! It’s a red paste of chilis, garlic, tomatoes, and different spices. I’d say it’s very salty, which made me think it will go well with Philippine green mangoes. 🙂
We were given copies of the recipes, and each table had a certain dish to make. What’s nice is after you finish what you’re doing, you can help with the other dishes, and see how they are prepared as well. I was assigned to chopping onions, and preparing the chicken, which is surprisingly easy. You just put all the ingredients in the pot, and leave it to cook. I guess Moroccan cooking is fairly like that. It takes time to prepare what with the gazillion ingredients in a dish, but if you know how to mix them together in a pot, you’re all set.
Another fascinating tradition is their use of public stone ovens. The biscuits were sent to one, just a couple of blocks from the riad. You can send anything for baking or cooking to that public oven and have someone watch it for you, all for less than 10 dirhams.
When everything was done, the chef wannabes were starving and excited for the finished products. Our starters were made up of bread and mezze (selection of small dishes, usually salads and dips). At this point, I was already full, but the food was so good, my stomach automatically expanded to make room for more! The main course, seffa with chicken, is angel hair pasta mixed with salt and butter, and topped with dried fruits. Instant favorite! So simple, yet so delicious.
Stories of life and travel among strangers were exchanged over good food and wine. We capped off the afternoon with our freshly baked biscuits, and what else, Moroccan mint tea of course.