I have visited Marrakesh in Morocco a couple of times and found it to be a heart warming and fascinating city. The central Djemaa el-Fna square is a sight to behold morning, noon and night with snake charmers, orange juice sellers and the general hustle and bustle.
The Kingdom of Morocco is situated in the north-western corner of Africa and is the only African country that is not a member of the African Union. It is surrounded by the Atlantic to the west, the Mediterranean to the north and the Sahara desert to the south. Almost the entire population are Sunni Muslims. Arabic is the official language but Berber (another dialect) and French are also spoken widely.
The snow topped Atlas mountains are a visible and dominant feature of Morocco’s geography. Highlights for the visitor include Fes, the oldest of Morocco’s imperial cities, the quiet mountain town of Chefchaouen, where every house is painted blue, camel trekking in the Western Sahara and the Dades Gorges. You can indulge yourself in a hamman (bath house) or haggle for souvenirs in the souqs.
Moroccan food is a mix of Mediterranean, Arabic, Andalusian and Berber cuisine and is extremely diverse. Some of the dishes I came across include Makouda (deep fried potato balls) , B’stilla (pigeon pie), Khobz (semolina flatbread) and Mechoui (roasted lamb). I decided to cook the traditional Moroccan dish Mshermel chicken tagine, which I served with a Tunisian vegetable cous cous. My family were a little divided by the taste but overall found it enjoyable.
Prep time: 40 mins
Cook time: 90 mins
3 chicken breasts, cut into 3 pieces
3 chicken thigh fillets, halved
1 Preserved lemon
Handful of coriander and parsley
2 large garlic cloves
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp of pepper
4 tbsp of olive oil
2 onions, peeled and grated
A good pinch of saffron
Small tin of green olives
Finely chop the preserved lemon, garlic, cilantro, parsley and place in a bag with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, pepper, cumin, ginger, paprika
Place the chicken pieces into the bag and massage well. Marinade in the fridge for 6 hours
When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your tagine pot
Add the onions and chicken and cook over low heat for 30 minutes
Soak the saffron threads in some warm water then add it to the tagine and cook for 30 minutes
Add the green olives and a teaspoon of salt and cook for a further 30 minutes
Serve with cous cous