Ceuta – ‘Sebtah’ in Moroccan - is a Spanish enclave at the north of Morocco,
just in front of Gibraltar. My mother was born in Ceuta and I as a child and
teenager spent many summers there. Bordered by the sea and Morocco, the
influence of the neighbour country is everywhere: food, architecture, and
Waking up from the siesta with the smell of hot mint tea my mother and her
sisters prepared for us is a recurrent memory of those summers. It was so hot
out there, and that delicious sweet tea was the only thing that would revive us.
On week days, I woke up early and went with my grandmother to the market; I
loved seeing the colourful fruits and vegetables original from inland Morocco,
the fish, and the stalls selling spices. Some evenings we went to one of the
city squares and eat Moroccan seasoned chargrilled meat brochettes. On special
days, Halima would prepare a bastilla or a big tfaya couscous for
the whole family.
Moroccan food is colourful and perfumed with cumin, saffron, cinnamon or
Arab, Berber, and Jewish influences are present. Also Moroccan
dishes can be found in today's Andalusian cuisine, influence of the times when
the Moors were in Spain; I used to think my mother would cook them because of
the Moroccan influence in Ceuta.
The menu I will prepare on the 28th of November includes some of
the dishes I learnt from Halima when I was 16, as well as some of the Moorish
starters that my mother used to cook at home.
Kemia (Hot & Cold Starters)
Moroccan salad (v) Refreshing tomatoes
and cucumber salad dressed with mint.
Green beans salad (v) Spicy green beans and roasted peppers salad.
Zaalouk (v) A delicious
cooked dish made with aubergines and tomatoes, perfumed with paprika and cumin.
Carrots & cumin (v) This colourful warm dish
is one of my favourites. At home we always cook the Andalusian version of it.
Spinach & Preserved Lemons (v) This very aromatic dish is
the spinach versions of the bakkoula salad, which is
traditionally prepared with malve leaves. It is prepared with
spinach, preserved lemons and spices, and served with purple olives.
Bessara Dip (v) Bessara
or byssar is a flavourful soup made out of
dry fava beans and spices, which is usually eaten breakfast. Here, I will
prepare a thicker version that can be eaten as a dip.
Mains:Quince & lamb tagine
Slow cooked lamb stew with
Couscous aux 7 légumes (v) This is an aromatic
couscous, perfumed with ginger, saffron and fresh coriander. It is usually
cooked with beef, but we will serve a vegetarian version.
Chicken couscous One of the first couscous I
learnt. It is prepared with onions, saffron, cinnamon and ginger. It is usually served with the tfaya sauce.
Tfaya (v) Rich and sweet sauce prepared with
caramelised onions, raisins and honey. The addition of prunes gives a stark
colour contrast against the couscous flour. This sauce is traditionally
presented on top of couscous and it is garnished with fried almonds.
Oranges & Cinnamon Salad.
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