I had so much fun today! I joined a Moroccan Cooking Class and cooked up a storm! The class was hosted by the lovely Vicki from Red Hot Chilli Pepper near Caloundra.
This is what we rustled up for lunch:
- Spicy Moroccan dip
- Chickpea flatbread
- Moroccan spiced cous cous
- Chermoula baked fish
- Fez carrot and orange salad
- Chicken tagine with saffron, preserved lemons and olives
First up we started by mixing our own Moroccan spice blend; cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, Allspice, cayenne pepper, ground cloves, black pepper and salt.
Next we prepared the fish and placed it in the fridge to marinate in its spicy sauce. The carrot and orange salad required a delicate hand to cut the orange segments, and the chickpea flatbreads were surprisingly easy to whip up.
Then we tackled the tagine. If you’re not familiar with a tagine, it is a North African cooking dish with a shallow round dish on the bottom (used for both cooking and serving), and a round dome or cone on top which traps the steam keeping the food moist.
Travelling around Morocco I ate my way through many delicious tagines and they are still one of my favourite meals. (I kick myself for not bringing a tagine back with me, but it was never going to fit in my backpack!) A rich stew of meat, chicken, or fish, a tagine often includes fruit (prunes or raisins as I recall) and is usually served with a mountain of couscous.
Traditionally tagines are slow cooked over hot coals, but the ol’ electric stove worked pretty well today too 🙂 A one-pot-wonder, you add all the ingredients to the tagine, put the lid on and leave it, without stirring.
7 things I learned in my Moroccan cooking class:
- Spice is the cheapest ingredient of any meal but has the biggest impact.
- Store your spices away from heat, light and moisture.
- Traditional tagines are made from terracotta which is porous and gives the food a lovely earthy flavour, however they are quite high maintenance as they need to be soaked for an hour before use to prevent cracking.
- Vicki recommended the Scanpan brand as the best modern tagine available here, which can also be used for making paella.
- Some tagines are only intended to be used as decorative serving dishes. Painted tagines should not be used for cooking as often the paint may contain lead.
- Eating some sugar is the best way to put the fire out if you happen to eat some head-burstingly hot chilli.
- How long should you keep spice for? According to Vicki ground spice will last up to 12 months, and whole spice will keep for up to 3 years.
After a few hours slaving over a hot stove we all sat down with a glass of red wine and toasted our efforts. What a banquet! Highlights for me were the preserved lemon and chicken tagine and the super tasty Chickpea flat bread.
During the class Vicky announced she is going to lead spice tours to Morocco, Mexico and India – hmmmm, I’ve never been to India…..
Vicki’s next Moroccan cooking class is Saturday 9th August. If you want your ‘License to Spice’ check out her upcoming schedule of classes or visit her shop in Caloundra. Nom nom nom!