On a recent trip to Marrakech, two friends and I were lucky enough to take part in a private cooking class. Set in a traditional Moroccan house (riad), we were taught by a local lady (with the help of our interpreter, Mohammed) how to make a variety of dishes.
My friends and I’d spent the days leading up to the class feasting on authentic Moroccan food in restaurants packed with locals. Sampling tagines, meat skewers, pastillas, salads, dips, sweet biscuits and multiple varieties of the famous mint tea, we were very much looking forward to learning the tricks of the trade so we could prepare similar dishes back home in London.
On the menu for our class was a preserved lemon chicken tagine, zaalouk (Moroccan eggplant dip), bread, and of course, mint tea and biscuits!
Here’s the Zaalouk (eggplant dip) recipe:
6 ripe tomatoes
Splash of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
Generous handful of chopped parsley
Generous handful of chopped coriander
1. Prick the eggplants a few times with a fork. Place the eggplants directly on the stove flame to roast. Turn regularly with tongs making sure all sides are equally cooked. It should take approx 15 minutes, but keep an eye on them. Generally if the smoke alarm goes off, it means they are ready!
2. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes in half and grate (*this was a new technique for me which proved very effective). An alternative to grating would be to peel, de-seed and chop very finely.
3. Once the eggplants are soft and equally charred all over, set aside on the bench to cool. Once cool enough to touch, use a knife to scrape away the charred skin. Remove the stalk and finely chop/mash the cooked eggplant until smooth.
4. Place the tomatoes in a large pan with a splash of olive oil. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, parsley, coriander, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.
5. Add the mashed eggplant. Cook for 5 minutes.
6. Add a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with some parsley.
Serve with crusty bread or pitta chips.