Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech: Moroccan Cooking Class Experience

Food Chronicles

Food culture education

 

Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech: Moroccan Cooking Class ExperienceCulinary Delights

History and culture of a city can be learned through landmarks and locals. My favorite way is through its food.

The best food education in the kitchen.

At Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech cooking classes are offered to learn about Moroccan cuisine from highly-trained local chefs.

The Culinary Delights program (for 1,000 Moroccan Dirham per person; about $100 USD) privileges guests to learn the recipes and techniques of some of the country’s most notable dishes which are beautifully rustic, colorful, and complex.

From the ingredients, preparation, and tastes you will learn about the Moroccan history and culture. The flavors have widespread influences from the East, African, and Andalusian traditions.

 

The Cooking Class Experience

Upon greeting the chef at the main reception, you are then escorted to the Mes’Lalla, the resort’s modern Moroccan restaurant. Then you are taken directly into the kitchen doors.

The Mes’Lalla kitchen is in full swing in the afternoon to prepare for dinner. From the brief walk through, you can see all the pots, pans, and tagines ready for the night.

You then enter an elevator and head down to the basement where the resort’s main prep kitchens are located. Welcome to your classroom for the morning or afternoon.

First, you are instructed to wash hands and put on an apron and chef’s hat, both of which you get to keep as souvenirs at the end of the class.

The head chef or local Moroccan chef will explain the menu for the day, which includes the most famous and popular dishes that formulate a classic Moroccan meal.

 

The Recipes

Taktouka and Zaalouk d’aubergines start the lesson. A Moroccan meal typically begins with several small plates of salads. These two dishes, in particular, accompany a chicken dish. Hence, the main dish for the class is Tagine de poulet aux citrons confit et olive du pays.

Taktouka is a popular traditional salad made of tomatoes and roasted peppers. This salad is not raw, rather it is cooked with spices and then cooled to serve room temperature or chilled.

Zaalouk d’aubergines is a common side dish and one of the most basic salads of Moroccan cuisine. The dish consists of cooking tomatoes and roasted eggplants with spices, and it is accompaned with bread.

Tagine de poulet aux citrons confit et olive du pays is a well-known Moroccan classic. The chicken is cooked in a tagine with citron confit (salt-cured lemons) and finished with the addition of olives. The lemons produce a wonderful complexity of flavors that are fragrant, sweet, savory, and bitter.

The design of the tagine brilliantly creates moisture which drips down the inside slope to tenderize the protein in the dish which slowly simmers to infuse all the flavors.

Moroccan dishes require patience with all the steps and techniques of cooking, as well as the patience for the slow cooking which produces deep flavors that are the signatures of the cuisine.

At the end of the class, you must have this recently learned patience of a Moroccan chef and wait for your meal to completely cook. It takes at least another hour or so, more like two hours, for the chicken to fully tenderize in its low heat.

 

Tasting the Dishes

The chef and staff give you the option if you want to enjoy the creations of your lesson in the restaurant or in your villa. The resort prides themselves with their stand out presentation and service in their In-Villa Dining program, which must be experienced at least once during your stay.

The next post features the dishes prepared in our Culinary Delights class and how it was beautifully presented and served in our pool villa.

 

Foodicles Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Cooking Class 1
In the heart of the hotel’s kitchen. No fancy frills here. This cooking class puts you in the same place where the cooks prepare guest’s orders every day. Students also use the same knives and cookware. First thing first: everyone must wash hands!
Foodicles Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Cooking Class 2
And then the cooking ignites. First, aubergines (eggplants) and peppers are roasted directly on the stove. All the vegetables come from the hotel’s vegetable garden
Foodicles Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Cooking Class 3
Our local Moroccan chef teaches us the proper techniques and background of Moroccan cooking. The vegetables are thoroughly blackened and charred on all sides over the high heated flames
Foodicles Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Cooking Class 4
The roasted peppers and aubergines are then scraped of their blackened char with a pairing knife. The chef stressed the importance of not rinsing the char, as it will take away the deep roasted flavor
Foodicles Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Cooking Class 5
The aubergines properly peeled and cleaned of their skins and charring with the pairing knife. The thorough scraping takes away the blackened char while retaining the intense roasted flavor from the flames of the stove
Foodicles Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Cooking Class 6
The vegetables are then chopped. First the skinned and boiled tomatoes, then the roasted peppers and aubergines. Students/guests can get their hands dirty and chop along with the chef, or stand back and watch the demonstration
Foodicles Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Cooking Class 7
The spice kit. The most important part of any Moroccan kitchen. Every kitchen and household have their own medley, blend, and selection of desired spices. Here in the Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech kitchen the spices are cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, turmeric, and coriander
Foodicles Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Cooking Class 8
Our chef explaining each of the spices and how it is used in our class’s menu. The spices are not measured but added according to taste. Compared to other countries’ cumin, the Moroccan flavor has a slight subtlety which makes the spice rounded and not overbearing
Foodicles Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Cooking Class 9
Adding more spices before the dishes are complete. Remember, taste as you go so you know what to add to make the dish stand out with flavor
Foodicles Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Cooking Class 10a
Our Zaalouk d’aubergines and Taktouka cooking. Both side dishes are common and popular in Moroccan cuisine. While they are considered salads, they are first roasted and cooked over a flame, and then cooled to room temperature or cooler before served. The two side dishes are typically served with tagine de poulet
Foodicles Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Cooking Class 11
Tagine de poulet aux citrons confit et olive du pays. One of the most known dishes in Moroccan cuisine. The flavor gets a fantastic complexity from the salted lemons, which give a savory, bitter, sweet profile to the dish. The design of the tagine provides wonderful moisture and tenderness to the dish after it slowly simmers over the flame. Moroccan cuisine is certainly complex and requires patience. The dishes served and revealed in the next post!

 

Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech
Route de Golf Royal, 40 000
Marrakech, Morocco
+212-5-24-29-88-88
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