Food is the center of all in Morocco, food is love, it’s family, it’s gathering, it is celebrated and artfully prepared. Flavors are melded together to create masterpieces and dishes are unveiled before your eyes in those stunning tagines. Food is a way of life. I set out to learn more and share with you, The Food of Fes and a Smokey Aubergine & Pepper Salad recipe! I signed up for a cooking class in Fes which was the highlight of my stay and highly recommended! I will share with you the knowledge I obtained during the class, as well as some local recipes and a couple of my favorite spots to grab a meal where you won’t be disappointed! I will continue to share over the next few weeks the many types of Moroccan meals I tried, recipes with my twist of course! I really can’t wait to share these with you guys and I know I need to get on it because you guys keep asking for them!
I knew I wanted to do a cooking class prior to getting there and I researched endlessly on where to take the class, they are offered quite readily throughout Fes, all with pretty good reviews. I stumbled upon raving review of a restaurant called Café Clock, located in the medina. The reviews across the board were phenomenal for the restaurant food as well as the cooking class. I decided before I booked I would try the food out, what better way to know what you’re getting yourself into than to test it out. Well, I was blown away by my meal of cous cous chicken and vegetables with caramelized onions and raisins so beautifully draped over the perfectly cooked piece of chicken, after my meal I marched downstairs and booked the class for a day later (these classes are popular and in high season you have to book much further in advance!) Not only was the food crazy good but the restaurant is a tantalizing 4 leveled restaurant with patios strewn across levels and views over the medina. I sat in the sun with a smile on my face as I cleared my plate.
The other memorable meal I had at, The Ruined Garden, another restaurant lost in the maze of the medina, it was worth searching for! This is a modernized tapas style Moroccan food concept of fresh and local ingredients landing on your table that hit your taste buds in every direction. When I read tapas style, I jumped to the get 2-3 plates that should be small in size “tapas”, should have known, they were Moroccan sized tapas and it kept me full for a day and half! I ordered a bowl of zucchini soup, the rice and mixed pepper salad as well as the vegetable tagine. The soup was thick, creamy and a balance of spices that were so flavorsome but yet highlighted the zucchini perfectly. The salad almost reminded me of a paella, a little bit smokey and so yummy, then came the grand entrance of the tagine, slowly braised vegetables that were perfection. The setting here is a relaxing garden with laced white chairs and quirky Moroccan pieces. I decided to sit in the back of the restaurant cozied up beside the wood burning fireplace, you can easily spend 2 hours here without even knowing it!
You want me to get on to the recipes… I know! I’ll be sharing many with you over the next few weeks as well as the tips and tricks on the Moroccan cuisine that I picked up!
My cooking class started at 1000 and I had an enthusiastic couple from California join me which was a blast! We started our day by taking our wicker shopping basket into the medina to start picking out our fresh ingredients and our chef Souad to guide the way and educate us on the food in Morocco and shopping etiquette! We weaved through the crowds, the shopping banter, wheelbarrow whizzing past us and we met an array of smells at every turn. Every shop unique and specializing in a certain product, from fresh local fruits and vegetables, to butchers, chicken shops, spice vendors, dates and prunes, beauty supplies…. The list goes on, but what was so incredible was they were all selling products local to Morocco, every last item! With a perfect climate year round and soil rich in nutrients they are able to grow everything they need, sustainable and local products all year round!
We made our way to the local bread shop where loaves were rising and a variety of breads were available all while right next door a sheep’s head was steaming in a giant pot… how intriguing. Next stop, the chicken coup. A sense of guilt overcame me as I stared into the little guys eyes I have to say, but this is the circle of life and that chicken was going to nourish our bodies! Chicken doesn’t get any fresher then this, in 2 hours it would be on my plate. Now that’s farm to table! We then learnt about some of the vegetables indigenous to Morocco that I’d never heard of and also watched some Argan oil being freshly pressed!
After shopping we headed back to the restaurant to our own private gorgeous kitchen in which we had chosen 3 dishes to prepare! Our 3 course meal began with an aubergine pepper salad, our main course was a chicken tagine with prunes and apricots and we ended with a delicate orange blossom coconut macaroon! Souad went over every detail of the cooking process as well as how she creates certain flavors, as well as some tricks I had never thought of! Let’s start cooking! Below I will share our first recipe we created and a step by step guide, everything was AMAZING! Stay tuned for more Moroccan recipes coming your way that I’m just perfecting!
Now, I want to start you all with a recipe that I am keeping pretty untouched that I acquired during my cooking class! It is such a healthy and flavor bursting salad that I ate many times in a variety of forms. It’s great if you love eggplant and you just don’t know what to do with it! Here is the recipe for you all!
Smokey Aubergine Mixed Pepper Salad:
– 1 large eggplant
– 2 large peppers (red/orange)
– 1 large handful cilantro – diced (if you don’t like cilantro, I made it with parsley and just as good!)
– 1 small clove of garlic – finely dice
– 1 tsp olive oil
– half a lemon juiced
– 1 tbsp rice vinegar
– 1 tsp cumin
– 1 tsp paprika (I use smokey paprika)
– 1/2 tsp chili powder
– pinch of salt & pepper to taste
How to Make:
– Place peppers & eggplant over open gas stove flame or in your oven under high broil, watching closely, when skin starts to get charred well, flip until all sides of vegetables are well charred and remove. Place peppers in a sealed plastic bag to sweat, set eggplant aside.
– While your peppers & eggplant are roasting, chop up your cilantro and garlic, add to a medium bowl with the rest of your spices.
– Once your peppers have sweat in the bag for 5-10 minutes, pull out and with a spoon scrape the charred skin of the pepper, leaving some for that smokey taste! Peel your eggplant as well, leaving some charred skin.
– Chop your peppers & eggplant into bite sized pieces, add to your bowl and add lemon juice & vinegar, mix well and refrigerate until chilled, this salad can also be eaten as a warm side dish which is yummy on rice!
There you have it! Your first Moroccan inspired recipe, I know you will love it, the smokey char comes through and the sweet peppers and earthy eggplant are so delicious! I will be posting a chicken tagine recipe next, with a little o my twist on ingredients, I can’t wait to share! Thanks for reading and hope everyone’s week is amazing! XOXO