Nadia from Marrakesh learned to make flatbread with her mother aged seven and was brought up in the family home with four sisters and a brother. Home cooking was part of growing up. She’s been living with her South Shields born husband over here in the UK for seventeen years now, and has launched a new cookery master class, teaching others about the joyous flavours of Moroccan cookery – with her business, Moroccan Food Culture.
I spent the day with Yvonne, Moira, Maria and of course Nadia creating my first ever Moroccan feast! On the menu was home made Moroccan flatbread and lamb tagine with fennel and petit pois. Side dishes were Shakshouka with tomatoes and red pepper, grilled aubergine salad and fresh hummous dip.
We started in the kitchen making the flatbread with 250g wholemeal and 100g plain four, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of dry or fresh yeast. Mixing it up with a little warm water you knead it together and make some little bun balls. You then leave your buns to rise for a while covered up somewhere. This adds an extra element of risk as it is easily sat or stood upon if not well out of the way. Just ask Moira. They then go in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
Our tagine started with a chopped up leg of lamb from the butcher. Moroccan food often uses lamb, and the traditional triangular terra cotta cooking pot or tagine is their preferred way of cooking it.A tagine was traditionally cooked in the remaining heat of the bakers’ ovens in Morocco. The tell-tale conical clay pot is filled with meat, dried fruit and vegetables and a small amount of liquid and left to cook for hours on a slow heat.
Glazed tagines can be quite beautiful things, colourful and decorative in their own right. The tagines used for cooking are often the plain terracotta ones, but you can use any kind of large heavy bottomed cooking pot. The meat was browned on the hob with olive oil and sliced onions and spices. Moroccan food uses a wide variety of dried spices like ginger, turmeric and cumin. We then added salt, pepper, chopped fresh coriander and parsley, two chopped tomatoes and a cup of water to the spicy mix. After about an hour, the sliced fennel bulb and the petit pois were added. Stirring and checking the pot to make sure it doesn’t dry out, when the vegetables were cooked and the meat tender a squeeze of lemon finishes the job.
There are always delicious salads to go with your main meal in Moroccan meals. The Shakshouka was a delicious mixture of tomatoes and spices and the grilled aubergine salad also looked delicious.I was particularly interested in learning how to make my own hummous. I have a cupboard full of chickpeas at home which |I really like but which I can never quite decide what to do with. Well now I know! You can just whizz them up in your food processor of in my case my Nutribullet, with a bit of oil garlic, lemon juice, salt cumin and chilli (not too much chilli!) The other magic ingredient is Tahini or sesame paste, but a top tip from Nadia means that you can substitute smooth peanut butter instead.
Myself and the other ladies thoroughly enjoyed our day chopping stirring and cooking delicious Moroccan dishes. They were all repeat visitors who had become enthusiastic about this new culinary world.
Moira said ” I love the variation of the spices, it’s all so colourful! and Maria added “I love it because I love food and I can’t get this kind of food on any corner – I have to cook it myself.’ Yvonne agreed, explained that is was wonderful to learn another culture’s way of cooking. We certainly enjoyed tasting everything at the end of the afternoon, dipping our warm flatbread into the salads hummous and savoury meat sauce. Mmmmmm!
Nadia does catering for events too, and can also offer a pop up restaurant experience. It really is a different sort of cuisine, and brings the exotic atmosphere of beautiful Morocco right here to the UK. Morocco is one of my all time favourite travel destinations, and I will definitely be returning, but in the meantime it was great to remind myself of what will be on offer next time I go. If you can’t get to Morocco yourself, then the next best thing is a day with Nadia and Moroccan Food Culture! If you would like to try Nadia’s cookery masterclass or ask about catering for an event or a pop up restaurant, email her at email@example.com