How To Cook Tagine + Other Moroccan Food

A memorable birthday was had in Marrakech. Aside from diving deeper into my twenties, I saw a city that is trendier than a mo fo right now and learned how to cook some Moroccan cuisine.

I learned how to cook a few Moroccan dishes with the Traveling Spoon at House of Fusion.

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What’s Traveling Spoon? It’s a way to get an authentic home cooked meal in any country. Traveling spoon connects travelers to vetted hosts who share their recipes, culinary traditions and cultural insights with you as you cook.
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On my birthday, my boyfriend and I stepped foot into a 500 year old riad where we were greeted by a fabulous Australian woman named Edwina. She shouted happy birthday and had us sit by the fire to warm up and begin our cooking session. On the menu: butterfly sardines, lemon chicken tagine, couscous, blistered aubergines, roasted veggies, cucumber sorbet and more. To me, I thought this sounds interesting but how would it all taste?
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We wasted no time, throwing on our aprons and washing our hands. We were shown to the table where we began to pull the stems off cilantro and basil, as these were key ingredients in nearly every dish. In the middle of stem pulling, I was called over to prepare traditional Moroccan mint tea. I learned that this tea has to be made a certain way and you need to wash the leaves at least three times before it’s considered clean and refreshing. Another important component, the height at which you pour the tea – you need to pull the tea upwards so it can breathe otherwise, what’s the point.
Once that was done, I was back assisting with meal prep and sipping on the tea I just made. Making the chermoula for our lemon chicken and preparing the base for our butterfly sardines, we worked our butts off chopping, chopping and… chopping. And for anyone thinking “ew sardines,” you need to try this recipe as it was one of my favorite dishes and I detest actual sardines.
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Chatting about the cooking process, life and what spending NYE in Marrakech is like, every moment was filled with something new. Rubbing chickens, smelling local spices, chopping onions and shredding cucumbers, all new yet memorable. What was even better, while cooking the most complex sounding dishes, everything was presented in a manner of “you too can cook great meals.” Nothing was too hard to grasp or make an attempt at. Edwina did an amazing job at keeping spirits up throughout the cooking process and she also shared helpful tips about exploring Morocco and places to eat in the area.
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A whopping three hours later, my hands were stained with spices, my nails were dirty (I have no nails but the existing bits got so dirty so long stems beware), and my hands burned (I have sensitive skin and cooking spices send my hands a bit crazy). I was still proud. We had completed a full on dinner and everything smelled delicious as we waited for the last bits to finish cooking.
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We had our blistered aubergines first. They were smothered in a chermoula that was out of this world. You can’t eat this classy but listen, class goes out the window when presented with good food!
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I thoroughly enjoyed the aubergine, couscous, sardines and everything else presented in front of me. I loved everything and literally wiped my plate clean as we toasted to my birthday with champagne that Edwina purchased for me. Once we were done eating, she brought out a homemade birthday cake that she lit up with candles and then proceeded to help my boyfriend serenade me. It was so wonderful and magical.
So what did I learn? Cooking classy meals is easy as pie with the right teacher. Moroccan food is freaking amazing. I do like sardines. Couscous is my best friend. Aubergine is literally my new homie.
If you’re looking for the best meal in all of Marrakech, go to House of Fusion with Traveling Spoon. Edwina is fun, fabulous and full of great recipes. You definitely won’t regret it and will wonder how you went on a trip to Marrakech without making a stop here.

The Doors Of Marrakech

This is a shameless door post. I’m not trying to be clever, just sharing with you the cool colors and doorways in Marrakech. Enjoy.

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Am I a horrible human for finding the beauty in someone’s door? This red is fire.

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Brown door near my riad. This one made me think “oh how earthy.” I posed awkwardly near this one.

 

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Dance with me.

 

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Then we have this vibrant blue and I’m wondering is this is what Chefchaouen is like.

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Now we stumble across a gold, brass, copper looking door. All the luxe and texture. It’s screaming take a photo with me for the gram. I comply and look like… how I usually do. lol

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How is this pose looking? Regal? Did you get it yet?

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Bam! It’s solid and I think it’s a door to a workshop. There’s something about it – the worn look.

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Last off, some tile! Ain’t it grand? Ain’t it colorful. I mean, I think so.

What door do you like? A door is a door is a door?

5 Things To Avoid In Marrakech

Marrakech can be a beautiful city. Full of color, sun, culture, food, great shopping and more! With all of the door posts or girls wandering in cute sleeveless sundresses on Instagram, beware false advertising. Marrakech is gorgeous. Marrakech is overwhelming.

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Beware Misdirection.

So remember in The Simpsons how Bart Simpson likes to prank call his principal and other people. He asks for someone like I pee freely and laughs. Well, that’s nearly every man in Marrakech. Well not every man but upon my trip there, my boyfriend and I ran into young boys, elderly men and middle aged men who told you wherever you were going was the wrong direction. Now this would be helpful if their words were true. Men will offer advice without asking, purposely sending you in the wrong direction or tell you that the place you’re headed is closed. They don’t laugh or see the look on your face when you realize they’ve lied but that one bit of misdirection is enough for them.

Medina Grifters!

I call them Medina grifters but they are just wonky looking men looking for any foreigner with a suitcase. If you get out of a cab, a bus or horse drawn carriage, their eyes are out for you to fast talk you and get you to your Riad located somewhere in the Medina. If you think “wait, I know he’ll ask for money, I’ll give him a few dirham.” Think again. He wants Euros. A lot of Euros. Save yourself the headache and just tell him to get lost (or polite thanks but no thanks however, he may have a hard time taking no for an answer).

Just Say No To Sandals.

This one might be silly but if you’re in the ancient Medina, sandals may not be your friend. The roads are small, people are zipping by on motorbikes and the roads are mainly dirt and oddly misshapen so stepping in mud, puddles, gaping holes, poo – it’s all likely. Just skip the hassle of looking down at your feet the whole time. Go for comfy sneakers or if you must wear sandals, practical ones that have support and comfort (no heels girls, just no).

Overpriced Items.

Cabs, meals, mint teas, you name it. It’s all likely to be overpriced if you look foreign and gullible enough to be taken for a ride. How do you avoid this? It’s tough. My best advice is to do your research. Make sure you scope out a few restaurants via Tripadvisor or another review platform before you land. You should also be certain of what you are willing to pay for anything. Don’t get in a cab if you haven’t agreed to the price (ask local shopkeepers the rates for cabs if you need). Scope out various prices for items even if you barter a guy low. It all helps and in the end, you’ll feel like you won.

Having Your Photo Taken With Animals. Wait, Any Animal Ride or Attraction!

You see those camels on your way from the airport by the side of the road? The horses waiting to drag a family on a carriage ride? Or the man carrying a flock of peacock (yes, we saw this)? Leave them be! I’m not a vegan or an animal activist but it’s honestly so cruel and not to mention risky, to bother with those animals. Half of them look mangy, like they need to be fed and the other half are likely to have some sort of disease as they are poorly taken care of. This doesn’t go for all animals but it seemed like most of them were in dire need of a true friend (the animals). I say avoid the stinky carriage ride and just catch a cab. Also don’t pose with a monkey – don’t.

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Those are my top 5 must avoids. I think with this floating in your mind – it will elevate your overall Marrakech experience and leave you better prepped to handle to medina. Now if you don’t heed my advice, will your trip be a fail? No. This advice may be centered to someone who is frugal or might not be used to a lot all at once (I have 7 siblings and I thought I was used to A LOT). You can still live your life like it’s golden in Marrakech, though I think this might better prep you.

Share in the comments what your top avoids are! We all have something. And if you need more specifics, shoot me a note as I’m happy to share more details (but do stay tuned for more posts).

 

Marrakech’s Jardin Majorelle

Marrakech impressed and overwhelmed me. It’s the honest to goodness truth. We stayed in the ancient Medina near Jemaa El Fna (an experience in it’s own right that will be blogged about later) but made sure to visit the Jardin Majorelle as we were seeking  peace, tranquility and many Instagram moments.

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Located on Rue Yves Saint Laurent, Jardin Majorelle is a major hotspot. To avoid the long wait (lines to get in at around noon in late December were about 45 minutes to an hour). Bring a means of entertainment or people watch to make the wait go by faster. Also note that if you aren’t a Moroccan local or resident, you’ll be paying a higher entry fee (but it’s not that bad – about $15 USD for entry into the gardens and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum).

Once you’re in the garden, you’re transported. There are cacti of every shape, size and color. It feels so exotic and somewhat mystifying to believe this place was once the private back garden of Yves Saint Laurent.

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It really is quite picturesque in an unexpected way. It’s not what I’d think of when the word garden comes to mind but it is beautiful and comes complete with a gift shop.

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Runways in the Jardin Majorelle

Walk around the windy garden and stumble upon what looks like a pond but in reality, is an extravagant runway.

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I pose like a goddess, lol

When you arrive at the beautiful blue structure, stop for a photo. It may be crawling with other tourists looking for their perfect color pop moment but everyone is respectful. They wait patiently and try to avoid showing up in your awesomely posed shot.

I can imagine that during the summer months, this garden is even more refreshing, with the tall plants blocking out the direct rays of the sun and providing a cool hangout spot.

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If you’re curious about the Berbers, you can visit the Berber museum just inside the garden for an additional fee (you must pay at the ticket office before entering the garden).

If not, keep strolling about to find your perfect Instagram photo.

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I blink, therefore I am.

Once you’ve had your fill of the gardens and the stillness that comes with being away from Jemaa El Fna, walk a mere 5 minutes down the road to the Yves Saint Laurent museum.

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I’m not going to lie, the museum didn’t sparkle but it may have been because I’m not a huge Yves Saint Laurent fan. We saw the dresses he made and a small art exhibit – the dresses were cool – some of them. Not sure there was much else to report but I’m no fashionista so maybe I missed some things.

My overall impression – visit Jardin Majorelle. It’s pretty and you can stay there as long as you like for a bit of a reprieve.