Learning to Cook in Essaouira

 

Part of my enjoyment of travel has always been the ability to try and replicate the food when I get home. I have joined cooking lessons in many countries but normally in a commercial situation either at a hotel or restaurant.

When we decided to stay in Essaouira for a few weeks I decided to check out the cooking lessons available. Most were quite expensive and held in hotels so when I heard about a local lady who was starting to do classes in her home. I decided that learning to cook that way was more my thing so booked a class with Khadija.

I am happy to say I have no regrets at all. It was a truly local experience. Khadija’s husband Hussein was available to translate for me (although Khadija does speak enough English to get by and we managed quite well without him for a lot of the time)

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We started the class with a Chicken and caramalised onion Tangine, the spices were all explained and we had plenty of laughs trying to work them out in English. After chopping and preparing everything the tangine was bubbling away on the stove.

Next was a Fennel and Orange Salad. I have never had anything to do with Fennel as my only attempt was years ago I found a recipe and I tried everywhere to get it and was unsuccessful so gave up. This salad was so simple, fennel and half a red onion sliced finely, peel and segment an orange and use about a quarter of it for juice. Easy to make and really delicious to eat, in fact I have made it a couple of times since. Really nice addition to a cooked BBQ chicken meal.

We then made some amazing Date filled biscuits… they were simple to make but these were a bit more challenging for me. As they were fiddly but it was fun learning to make them and we enjoyed them for a few days afterwards.

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We also made fresh bread which was probably the best I have ever eaten.

Now I am quick an accomplished cook and manage quite well but this course made me realise how we rely on the ‘tools’ we have in the kitchen and sometimes making simple things can be a challenge when you are out of your comfort zone. I was all thumbs a couple of times especially when I was making the biscuits but Khadija’s patience helped me through. It seemed funny that I had cooked food for so many years yet struggled with the simplest things in this class.

We then all sat together and enjoyed the meal we had prepared. It was an afternoon of laughs and good conversation.

I enjoyed the experience so much I actually ended up having two more lessons…. Coucous and Bastilla.The cost was about the same as a meal in a ‘tourist’ restaurant but the experience far outweighed the cost. I feel like we arrived as clients and left as friends.

You can contact Khadija through her Facebook page here

 

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