Every culture has it’s version of fried dough, and Morocco is no different. You’ll find sfenj on street corners throughout the country. The dough itself is simple, a basic yeast dough but it is super sticky, making it a bit of a trick to master. Sfenj is prepared early in the mornings for breakfast or late in the afternoons for tea time and you’ll be hard pressed to find it anywhere in between those times!
While Morocco is justifiably famous for breathtaking scenery, Islamic architecture and a rich history of arts and crafts, the country truly stands out as a paradise for foodies. Diverse peoples, including Berbers, Arabs, Sephardic Jews and Muslims from Andalusia, and Spanish and French colonizers, brought their own culinary traditions and ingredients to the kitchen. This is combined with the marvelous variety of foodstuffs produced in the country´s different regions. The quality of beef and lamb in Morocco is outstanding. Fish is popular, especially in port cities, and there is an astonishing array of fruits and vegetables.
Of course, no tour to Morocco arranged by an in-country operator would be complete without sampling couscous, tiny grains of semolina pasta served with stewed carrots, zucchini and other vegetables, with or without meat. Rabat is especially famous for its couscous aux sept légumes (couscous with seven vegetables), in which an enormous mound of couscous is beautifully and carefully adorned with vegetables and served with a small bowl of broth on the side. Another famous variant of the dish is couscous tfaya, topped with caramelized onions, raisins and chickpeas. Couscous was traditionally eaten on Fridays after the midday prayer, but is now often enjoyed by extended families over the weekend. (more…)
Chris Padgett and his wife are the owners of Savor Morocco, a cooking school and guest house in Meknes, Morocco. He took a few minutes to answer some questions for us about his business and his tips for people traveling to Morocco for the first time.
Tell us a bit about your cooking school and guest house, Savor Morocco. What led you to opening such a business in Morocco?
Back when we lived in Texas, I owned a catering business that was fairly successful. We were able to sell it for quite a profit. For many years, I have been in the food service industry / customer service business. Both my wife and I wanted to live overseas for a season of our lives. When our kids were young, we decided it would be a great time to move and raise them in multi-lingual country. We moved over to Morocco with numerous business ideas, eventually landing on the cooking school / guest house.
Our cooking school has been running for almost 3 years. During this time, we have held close to 200 classes, teaching countless foreigners how to create some amazing Moroccan cuisine. People come in and learn how to prepare the traditional mint tea, an appetizer and main dish. At the same time, they learn about the history of the dishes along with various cultural differences, sprinkled in with some great stories of Morocco’s past.
The guest house is located on several floors above the cooking school. It has been a great safe haven for travelers throughout their trek. Often times, we have groups stay for extended amounts of time and use Meknes as a base to see numerous surrounding towns and villages, including Fes. One of the great aspects of our guest house is that we provide much more space than a traditional hotel room, along with a full-scale kitchen to prepare your own meals and facilities to wash your own clothes in the midst of those long trips.
Moroccan cuisine is known for its mix of North African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking styles. Often combining sweet and salty elements, Moroccan dishes burst with flavor. Here are some of the most popular national dishes to try during your first trip to Morocco.
Tajine is any dish that is slowly simmered in traditional terracotta cookware. The pots are round with a low, wide base and topped with a conical lid in order to allow all the aromas and flavors to bake into the meat and vegetables while in the oven or on the stovetop. While there are many regional varieties of tajine, two of the most popular dishes are chicken tajine with olives and lamb tajine with figs or almonds. To dine the Moroccan way, use the thick Moroccan bread in lieu of a spoon; the bread soaks up the juices and flavors of the dish.