Sunday, April 30, 2017

MOROCCAN COOKING SCHOOL FOR A DAY: Part Two - the cooking

Lightly searing the lamb with the rub applied
After shopping and for two and a half hours, Lahcen taught me to cook the ingredients for many dishes. They are simple and superb, especially the soup. We prepared:

  • Harira soup, a staple in all Moroccan kitchens
  • Rubs
  • Lamb stew
  • Stock
  • Tomato sauce
  • Vegetable tajine
  • Six spreads or dips as accompaniments
  • Goat cheese canap├ęs wrapped in workah
  • Fava bean salad
  • Dessert escaped us due to lack of time, but it was to be seared apples with cinnamon and sugar, dates, dried grapes on the vine, and a light cucumber salad to cleanse the palate.
First of all, he sat me down with cups of mint tea for a rest as he washed everything and set out our mise en place. The quantities were overwhelming to me, who was used to cooking for one and two. "This will feed four," Lahcen said. More like ten, I thought!

Not all our ingredients!

The riad's kitchen was very basic in comparison to a North American commercial kitchen with eight gas burners in a line and an oven that Lahcen said was too slow and useless. No dish pit and no dishwasher. It was small, about 12x7 feet. Knives were not great and I wished I'd brought my own, and Lahcen laughed at me. Fatima and her helper bustled around us as making lunch for twenty from a tour due to arrive at about 3pm.

First to get going was the lamb, which I trimmed and made a rub with flour and the Moroccan spices. Well coated, I lightly seared it as I chopped onions and sweated them in a pressure cooker. In went the lamb.

Stock pot, with no seasoning



Lahcen was grating the 1.5 kilos of tomatoes for the soup, marinades, and salad dressings, and dropping many things into the stock pot simmering away.

I chopped onions, the herbs, roasted egg plants and peppers over the open gas flame, stirred the soup, swirled the dressings. Lahcen kept saying,"Yallah, yallah!" which meant ""Quick, quick!" He was a typical chef in his kitchen, giving orders and cooking at high speed.




The Harira soup, right, was underway, and I made sure the onions didn't brown, before the stock was added. We made the marinade/sauce for the tajine, poured it over, and popped both over a burner to steam.




The marinade/sauce for the veggie tajine
The fava beans steamed and were dressed with the tomato sauce, lemon, and OO. Delicious, I ate two before Lahcen stopped me!! "Tasting's good, but only one!"

At about 3:30pm we were plating everything but the lamb and tajine. Fatima hugged and kissed me, then up we went to the courtyard to enjoy all our hard work. Lunch was served!

Harira soup and dips/spreads

It truly was a highpoint as the taste was so much better than anything I'd eaten in Morocco. My taste buds were in heaven with all the flavours bursting from every dish.  Not spicy hot but so tasty. I had to pace myself because there was so much to eat and I wanted to savour everything. Soon a server brought up the lamb and the tajine and placed it on the table with a flourish along with some fresh flatbread.

Lamb on left and the veggie tajine
Just after 4:00pm, I couldn't eat another mouthful and sat like a Buddha unable to move.

Lahcen reminded me that everything would taste better tomorrow when the flavours had more time to meld.

What an incredible day!!

.....

For more details about The Fez Cooking and Cultural Tours, visit www.fezcooking.com and do your damnedest to visit Fez to partake of Lahcen's offerings for visitors. He's a gem!

ALL IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos 2017
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