3 Dec 2016

Brownies / 7alwat L'Marikan

There are so many recipes of brownies and every family has its own favourite.  When it comes to make this treat, you cannot avoid the question: are you cakey, chewy, or fudgy?

From this recipe I am posting today, we are definitely cakey. If you love this type of brownies, go for it, it's easy to make.  There is no need to melt chocolate before adding it to the batter, you also might add pinch of baking or soda powder to lift the brownies up; thus creating lighter cakey texture. If you add some coffee, it's another bonus; enhancing complexity and mystery to the flavour!

If you like brownies with that shiny and crackly crust on top: simply increase the amount of caster sugar and when adding eggs into creamed butter/sugar mixture, keep beating for longer than usual so that meringue layer be formed on top of your brownies.
In fact you can use this cake as a rich chocolate sponge cake.  Refrigerate it for few hours so it will be easy to slice, then use any chocolate frosting to sandwich the slices.  Cover the whole cake with more frosting and here you have: a delicious chocolatey cake for any happy occasion.
The tips for cakey brownies are as you might have noticed in the recipe below is :

-Cutting all the brown sugar and add more flour.  This will reduce the moistness found in fudgy and chewy brownies.
-Add 1 or 2 extra eggs.
-Add some baking or soda baker to lift it up.
-Bake 5 or 10 minutes longer. 
-Don't melt chocolate or butter when added to the batter
Enjoy serving with ice cream. Already approved by Anwar!

What you need for this recipe:

1 Rectangular tin used : 30 x 22 x 3.5 cm

Length: 30 cm
Width: 22 cm
Height: 3.5 cm


-250 gr soft butter

27 Oct 2016

Ghriba Dyal Sfar L'Bid (Ghriba't Nass Rab3a)/ Egg Yolk Cookies/Petits Biscuits Aux Jaunes D'oeufs

If one day you’re faced with a bowl of leftover yolks, this is a delicious recipe to use them. I mostly double the recipe to make over 60 cookies. Feel free to add more flavour to the mixture, it's simple and a success every time I try it.

For 32 small Ghriba


-125 gr caster sugar
-125 gr soft butter
-250 gr white flour
-4 gr baking powder
-4 egg yolk
-Pinch of salt
-Pinch of cinnamon powder

1 Jun 2016

Boolfaf or Melfoof or Kwaa, Moroccan Grilled Liver Kebabs-Boulfaf L'3id L'kbir

These are the most traditional, delicious barbecued brochettes you could ever wish for in Morocco (not that I'm biased). They are very popular brochettes all over the kingdom and widely enjoyed. These brochettes are seasoned with black pepper, ground cumin, red paprika, olive oil and are cooked, usually outdoors, on a majmar, which is a Moroccan charcoal clay brazier. They have several names according to different regions, some call them  Boolfaf, some Melfoof some Kwaa.

Traditionally,  Boolfaf is served with Moroccan tea as a beverage and usually enjoyed outdoors during Eid L'kbri or Eid-Adha, the Islamic festival to celebrate both the end of the month of Haj and the sacrifice that Abraham was prepared to make in the name of Allah or God.

What makes these brochettes so special is the caul fat (lace fat or fat netting), a membranous tissue surrounding the stomach of animals. Wrapping the liver before cooking allows the fat to insulate it, then the fat melts and baste the liver while cooking, transferring a lovely flavour and making the liver tastes juicy lucy. You don't need any other ingredient to stick caul fat to the liver, no toothpicks or egg white or flour paste, absolutely nothing, because the fat will simply seal itself while cooking.

Go, go boys, bring some water for tea!

  • 1 kg lamb liver (you may use less or more)
  • 1 lump of sheep caul fat (about 400g)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander and parsley
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil or argan oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped

30 May 2016

What you need to know before visiting Morocco!

King and Queen of Morocco

1.What is Morocco and who are the Moroccans?

Some of my blog readers sent me emails asking if Morocco is a perfect place for holidays. I don't think there is such a place called "perfect".  If you decide to travel abroad, the choice of the place will depend on your expectations, planning and goals. Are you an adventure traveller? or comfort-five-stars tourist?  The most common questions received by e-mails, Google private chat, or Facebook are:


I-From Middle-East sent me an email (quoting him): "I always thought Morocco is an Arab country until I last visited small villages in the South and Atlas mountains and no one could understand my Arabic and nor could I understand their language, which I understood afterwards it was "Imazighen".

II-Is it safe to travel to Morocco?

III-Are Americans or non-Muslims a major target there?

IV-Is it really safe to bring my "woman" with me for shopping or walking in the streets?

V-Should my "woman" wear a scarf or Hijab or skirt or Burka, or whatever?


Not all Moroccans are Arabs though most of them are Muslims. It is estimated that over 80% of Moroccans are ethnically Imazighens  and by Imazighens we mean :

1- Swassa (South)
2- Ryaffa (North)
3- Zayanes (Atlas-Center of the country)

I admit I was really surprised by the last questions, to say the least, because this reminds me of the hysteria following September 11, 2001.  If you live in Deptford or Catford or New York City or Los Angeles, where the danger, I suppose, of being shot by a gun is much more higher than in any city in Morocco, so I'm sure you can travel to my country without a problem. However; we all know that there is always a little risk that something by chance or bad luck could happen to us ANYWHERE in the world.  I think the most important thing to bear in mind when you decide to travel somewhere, is to show some respect to the culture, religion and traditions of the place you intend to visit. You don't need to wear a scarf or hijab to visit Morocco, but of course as in any country in the world, you should dress appropriately before you put your feet outside. And as a visitor, always, be sensitive about whom you photograph, it is considered polite to ask permission of people before you take their picture. Use your common sense, how would you feel if someone in your own country take a picture of you or your children without your permission?  

Most importantly, if you don't speak one of the local languages/dialects or if you are not sure about all the different places you want to visit, stick to your travel agent and ask him/her for advice to arrange special tours for you.  If you want to visit the South, make sure your travel agent speaks fluently Soussiya, if you intend to go to Atlas, your agent should be fluent in Zayanes, whereas the North, it's Rifiya which is more spoken.  

As for the main towns as Casablanca, Rabat, Fes etc..., it is more Darija-French Dialect which is predominant. So if you are French speaker, you'll have no problem to be understood; however, you still need an agent who speaks well Darija and classic Arabic since most driving signs and formal news are written or broadcasted in calssic Arabic. 

With the "Arabisation System" implemented in the 80s in public primary/secondary schools all over the country, Moroccans born after 80s don't speak fluently French as it was the case in the 50s, 60s and 70s. You will notice that people who are born between 50s and 79s, their French is more perfect and fluent. However, Moroccans who can afford to pay private schools, their children speak fluently several languages including French and English.

2.Where is Morocco?

Kingdom of Morocco is located in the Northwest Coast of Africa, bordering both the shores of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. So many cultures live in this small Kingdom, and over 5 dialects/languages are spoken. Morocco is rich in its culture and historical background, and it has so many breathtaking sights and beautiful landscapes!

Hosting a big number of international visitors each year, and according to Morocco Tourism Report of 2010, more than 9 million tourists visited Morocco! Undoubtedly, Morocco is one of the most beautiful and worthwhile places to visit in Africa.  Holidaying in Morocco is not only having a nice and exotic trip, but also discovering a unique place, getting a full experience of its rich history, people, culture, languages, art, music, cuisine etc.., and especially its stunning nature, full of unusual landscapes; allowing you one day to ski on the snow-capped mountains in Ifran in the Middle Atlas region, and the other day to ride a camel in the colourful and unique sand dunes in the Sahara!

3-Official Name of the country : Kingdom of Morocco

4-Capital City : Rabat

5-Total Land Area 710,850 sq km

6-Currency : Moroccan Dirham (DH). Currency Converter-Click here to check currency-

1 GBP (British Pound Sterling)  = 14.27 MAD (Moroccan Dirham)
1 EUR (Euro) = 10.85 MAD (Moroccan Dirham)

7-Religions: Sunni Islam. There is a minority of Chiâa as well, Judaism, Christianity, Hindu and Chinese religious practice. However, Islam is considered as the official religion of the Kingdom, and the King has the responsibility of ensuring "Respect for Islam as well as other Religions".

8-Independence : After 44 years of occupation, Morocco regained independence in 1956 from France, and then in 1975, Moroccan Sahara regained independence from Spain. However, there are still two main towns under Spanish colonisation: Sebta and Mlilya in the North.

9-Languages spoken There are official, regional and local  languages:

9.1.Imazighen: Since summer of 2011, Imazighen language has finally became official alongside Classical Arabic.  Imazighen is the predominant spoken language in Morocco, which exists in three (3) different  dialects:

a-Tachalhit or Chalha or Soussiya in the South
b-Tarifit or Rifiya in the North
c-Zayanes or Zayaniya in the Central Middle Atlas

9.2.DarijaThis is the colloquial dialect, and most widely spoken by all Moroccans in general in everyday conversations, songs, movies and informal occasions. Darija is not understandable to Arab speakers, and this is due to the fact that it has had its large share of borrowing words and expressions from different communities: Imazighens, Jews, Andaloussi, Sahrawis, Arabs, Spanish and French. Mauritania and Algeria are probably the only countries where our Darija can be understood.

Example of Darija

If Arab countries have their own regional dialect though each country has developed its own idiosyncrasies, but generally speaking, Arabs from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, Quatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia can easily understand each other, because first they are all Arabs, thus their dialects are close to classical Arabic, which make their dialects share the same linguistic characteristics, though there are slight differences in the accents and expressions.

Due to differences in accents, words and pronunciation, Moroccan speakers can easily spot someone from another town, region or village, so the way people talk is based on what part of the Kingdom they live in. There are marked dialectal differences according to the parts of the Kingdom, people do live. These social and regional differences in accents, pronunciation and expressions can be summarized as follows:

 9.2.1-Bilingual/Urban DialectIt is a mixture of French and Moroccan dialect, widely used in big cities, especially in international companies, certain administrations, businesses, technical fields, banks, some universities and school. This dialect is strictly used by bilingual speakers, so it is very common that Moroccans "code-switchingeasily and randomly from Moroccan-dialect to French language and vice versa, which could be very confusing for non-French speakers.  However; if you are francophone, you will at least understand half of the conversation, which is not bad! If you pay close attention to the conversations around you, you will notice how much certain French expressions are repeated frequently, example: "Plaisir", "Spectacle", "ça va?"...

Example of bilingual/urban dialect

Sometimes, it could be the whole conversation in French, mixed with very few Moroccan dialect expressions! Strangely and sadly enough, speaking fluent French in Morocco has been associated to highly educated and privileged socially rank elite, so more fluent is your French, more respect you will get from people around you, assuming that you're a VIP!

9.2.2.- Rural Dialect : If you speak urban dialect, and visit some villages Abda, Dokkala, Mzab, Ben Hmad etc., you may have difficulty understanding the strong local accent. It sounds like Darija but with some differences in accent and expressions.

Example of rural dialect

9.2.3.-Majority of Imazighens living in big cities are bilingual and they speak urban dialect with a beautiful soft accent which sounds like Marrakeshis'.

9.2.4.-Moroccans living in the East as (Oujda) speak a dialect which is slightly different from the west speakers, with strong influences from eastern expressions and accent, same as neighbours in the East.

9.2.5.-The Fassis and the Northern dialect are quite distinguishable with all their linguistic characteristics and a special lovely accent, though it's hard to understand.

Example of Moroccan-Jewish Darija

Example of Fassi Darija

Example of Northern Darija

9.3-Classical ArabicIt is the official as well as the religious language.  The Classical Arabic is taught in Mosque, primary, secondary schools and universities.  It is Morocco's official government language, used in media news, political shows, parliamentary services and government institutions.  

9.4-Hassaniya or Hassania = الحسنيّة  It is the language predominant in Moroccan Sahara..  This is the dialect native to Mauritania, which has the characteristics of two (2) languages: Classical Arabic and Imazighen language, especially Soussiya.

Example of Southern-Sahara Darija

9.5- French: Most Moroccans, living in big cities, speak French fluently. It is the language taught from very early age on private primary schools and at the nursery centres. French, both spoken and written, is also the language of businesses, administrations, international companies, banks and certain commerce /education institutions.  The higher your level of French is when you begin your job search, the higher your chances are of finding work quickly in big cities, and this is the reason why some parents decide to send their children to private schools though they are not affordable to everyone.

If you're looking for a job and the ad states: "Perfect Bilingual applicant has the priority", this means two languages : "Classical-Arabic and French". Though majority of Moroccans speak Darija and Imazighen, these two dialects, however, are not counted important when it comes to job search, which is sad. Both Imazighen and Darija are the first languages of Moroccans yet these dialects are not used at the professional level, putting more pressure on our children to learn foreign languages such as French, Spanish and English to find a suitable job in their own country.

Some employers would wait until the interview to ask their candidates if they speak Imazighen, especially when it comes to hire sales representative for big companies or tourists agents for certain regions.

9.6-Spanish: It is largely a spoken language for many people, living in the north and Sahara.

9.7-English: It is still far behind in comparison with other spoken languages. There are still very few people who can speak English.

7 May 2016

Afolous Imim - Djaj 7lou (Hlou)- Moroccan Sweet, Sticky Chicken Sauce

This sauce is meant to cover a cooked roasted chicken, which is then put back in the over for an extra 10 to 15 minutes, allowing it to taste all the different flavours in the sauce. Timing is important in this recipe, since the bird should be cooked to use its sauce to make this recipe. Start making the sauce 15 to 20 minutes before the bird is fully cooked.

The  sauce is for 1.5kg to 2kg whole chicken

16 Feb 2016

Moroccan Preserved Lemon / Pickled Lemons/ L'hamd Mssayr or L'hamd Mra9d

Preserved lemons are called in Morocco "L'hamd Mra9ad" or "L'hamd Mssayr". Hamd Beld or Hamd Marrakshi is mostly used for preserved lemon, but Eureka or Meyer lemons are fine to use. Making your own preserved lemon is so ridiculously easy. You have made enough lemon lemonade, meringue-lemon pies, marmalade and lemon curd, but you still have some Meyer or Eureka lemons left. Why not try preserved lemon if you're a big fan of Moroccan Chicken Tagines?  Your heart always sinks for a moment when you realise that preserved lemon is a crucial ingredient used to enhance your Moroccan Tagine recipe and you know you can't find it in any shop near you. Don't let that simple ingredient stopping you from enjoying your favourite dishes. All you need is Hamd which is lemon in Moroccan Darija. To make preserved lemons, you'll need:

-1 or 2 large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
-10 (or more) fresh lemons
-Fresh lemon juice from 4 lemons or white vinegar (about 50 ml)
-Lots of salt and salt
-1 teaspoon of baking soda
-2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil
-Boiled water

30 Jan 2016

Warquat or War9at Bastilla / Moroccan Phyllo Sheets (Filo)

Warquat Bastilla is very thin, small or big and round sheets to make two popular dishes : Bastilla and Briwat. The ingredients of this unleavened, runny and sticky dough are flour and water, some will add a bit of salt or even vegetable oil. To make bastilla sheet you need a special pan which is quiet heavy, a topstove or marjmar (traditional barbecue), love, special skills and luck.

Warquat bastilla is a labour of love and you need plenty of time, patience, accurate performance and diligent hand skills. Bastilla bakers prepare the dough one day before, cover it and let it rest for hours if not the whole night. Then the dough is stirred until it becomes smooth and shiny. The fun part starts then: using only one hand, they pinch a small sticky piece out of the dough , magically form a ball though the dough is so runny, tap it over the hot pan continuously. The tapping keeps going on in a circle way, until the whole pan is covered with a thin dough sheet. The tapping is so fast and accurate that each tap is close to the next and its previous one. This is very important to obtain the ideal thinness of the sheet. Only one hand is used to do all this work, the other hand is used to transfer the thin sheet onto a clean dry tea towel, and brush it with some vegetable oil to keep it soft. It takes only 15 to 20 minutes to make more than 1 kilo of warquat bastilla. If the famous Turkish phyllo called yufka is jazz, Moroccan warquat bastilla is certainly akin to classical art.

Warquat Bastilla Pan

In Morocco you can buy fresh warquat bastilla in some markets or bakeries, where only few bastilla bakers can make it. Of course  you might think it is easy to make at home since all you need is flour and water, why not, but it is not that easy. It is a labour-intensive process requiring lot of skills and experience to obtain a perfect circle sheet with the desired thinness.  Even the best cooks and bakers in Morocco can't make it, they would rather buy it in the shops and markets. Of course The fresher, the better, these fresh sheets should be used within 3 days maximum, otherwise they will  will dry out and become brittle.

Warquat bastilla ready to use

I am making a chicken bastilla with these lovely sheets

28 Nov 2015

Tagra, Earthenware Pot of North Morocco

Tagra is a northern fish stew, a speciality of Moroccan Imazighens of Riff. It's a wide and shallow unglazed earthenware cooking base, looks like tagine but without the top. Tagra refers to all the fish dishes in northern Morocco, especially Tangier, Assila, Larache and Tetouan. The traditional shape of tagra is round though its shape has changed over the years and we can see now some tagra in oval sizes and even with a cover.

16 Nov 2015

Good to Know Before Eating Tagine Meat in Morocco!

As most Moroccans, I guess we eat more beef in my house than any type of meat, with chicken queuing close behind, after comes fish, and sea food, then a once a week lamb in Fridays couscous, and to be honest I can't remember the last time I fixed veal, but I probably will be posting a tagine veal soon.

Meat: beef, lamb and chicken are very popular in making tagines, and the cooking time of a medium tagine for about one kilo of meat will take more or less 2 hours and a half, sometimes more, depending on the size of meat cuts. As a tourist, it's good to know that some areas, especially the south, goat and camel meat may be turned into tagines. However, camel meat is a delicacy and not eaten on a daily basis, but only at parties, big occasions and wedding receptions. In some areas, rabbits and pigeons can also ended up in tagines. Play safe and always ask type of meat used in your tagine to avoid any bad surprise.

Due to Morocco being a muslim country, most of the meat is Halal. However there is also Kosher butchers for the Moroccan Jews community.  Similar to Jewish Kosher laws, Muslims cannot eat any pork or pig meat. Both religions contain some points of similarity, representing dietary laws of Abrahamic religion.  So all meat served in restaurants is Halal or Kosher as there are certain laws that Muslims and Jews follow when it comes to meat.  The government specifies certain rules for animals' slaughtering. Here are some laws that Muslims and Jews follow when it comes to meat: 

1-Animals must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter.
2-All blood should be drained from the carcass. 
3-Stunning is not allowed either electrical or gas or percussive method.

So if you don't eat Halal or Kosher, you have to make inquiries via your travel agent to help you find a non-halal butcher, where pork meat is sold.

10 May 2015

10 Delicious Moroccan Tagines - Southern Recipes with an Imazighen Accent - My first ebook is out!

I am happy to announce that my first eBook about Moroccan tagine is ready.  It includes 10 delicious tagine recipes, all from Souss region in the south of Morocco.  I have just realised that the process of writing an ebook itself takes longer than expected because I miss some key technical information. My generation grows up with paper book and this new technology of ebooks is completely alien to me. I would like to thank my son Kamal for his technical support and help throughout this whole process. Thank you again son!

3 May 2015

Honey/Date Mahrash - Moroccan Honey/Date Bread - Mahrach aux dattes et miel-Pain Marocain!

This is Honey/Date Mahrash, very popular to be served during Ramadan in some southern Imazighen villages. This is not quite a “quick” bread, yet easy to make if you have the patience of a home baker. The most taxing part of making this bread is chopping the dates, then place them in a saucepan on a low heat, adding some honey and orange blossom water. Once cooled, this mixture is to be transferred to the Mahrash dough to make the bread.

19 Apr 2015

Red-White Cake - Happy Birthday Raissa!

Very light and soft sponge meskouta cake with a sweet marriage of orange powder and vanilla flavouring. Three layers tall, romantic, and completely covered in mascarpone and vanilla frosting. Happy birthday Raissa!

15 Apr 2015

Naughty Chocolaty-Sweety Cake - Happy Birthday Leo!

Children can give us bizarre ideas how to decorate a cake. When Leo visited us last week, and I was asked to make him a cake for his 8th birthday, I said "How do you want your cake to look like Leo?".  "Lot of chocolate and sweeties please!" he replied with a big smile and shiny eyes.  Leo is such a happy lovely boy, very sociable with a sweet constant question asking habit that I love.

I made this 3 layers chocolate sponge cake all decorated with sweets and chocolate ganache, I thought this would be the perfect cake for him, and now it's ready to be picked by Leo's mum.. Happy birthday sweetheart!

10 Apr 2015

Cuisine of Figuig or Ifiyyey : Aghrom Anabsal or Anabssale or N'lebsal / Onion Bread

Figuig is a stunning little town in eastern Morocco near the Atlas Mountains.  The Imazighen locals call their town "Ifiyyey" which is an adjective derived from the verb "Afey" and which means "Cover". Figuig or Ifiyyey has the largest palmeraie  in Morocco with over 150,000 palm trees and I was told that the tall graceful palms are male trees vs female ones which are shorter.

29 Mar 2015

A tribute to My Father - This month, 10 years of my life without my dad!

When I visited my father in December of 2004 in Casablanca, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He was weak, very jaundice with skin and whites of eyes were yellow as well.  I was so shocked by his appearance that I started crying as I hugged him. I sat down next to him with my face buried in his shoulders as I cried my eyes out.  I could feel his weak hands, touching my hair, and rubbing my back, whispering to me out of the side of his mouth in the way he always did : “Matbkich abnti, rani bikhir", which means: “My daughter, please don't cry, I am fine”.

28 Mar 2015

Chocolate-Strawberry Cake - Happy Birthday Sabrina!

Finally, I put that cake in the box, ready to go! It took me two good hours to finish it. Such a torture to bake and smell a chocolate cake but not be allowed to touch it, it was meant for someone else's Birthday. The torture was getting worse when it came to finalise its decoration, and being a mad chocolaty myself, I let my imagination coming up with ways to fill this cake with a layer upon layer of chocolate and strawberry goodness. In total I sliced 4 layers, it was supposed to be a sky-high four-layered chocolate-strawberry cake, problem though, I ran out of chocolate icing, so I decided to stop at the 3rd layer.

16 Mar 2015

Pour avoir de beaux enfants donnez-leur du LAIT GUIGOZ / Halwat L' Ghoraf” or “ Halwat Guigoz / حلوة الغراف

I'm beginning to believe that I was born in the right place and on the right time, because I would have starved if I was born any earlier when sweets and cookies were a luxury! Blogging about food brings a lot of my childhood memories, and this post is one of them. My children always ask me what is in a dessert I am about to serve, but they never ask me how it got its name and frankly they don't care as long as it tastes good.  The origins of cookies/sweets in Kingdom of Morocco are as interesting as the sweets themselves, and this is one special 60s/80s cookies, which deserves food blog attention.

20 Feb 2015

Fkas Mal7 or 9at3a ( قطعة / فقاس مالح ) Moroccan Colourful Crackers /Moroccan Version of Indian Punjabi Mathri!!

It's time to nominate a better name for these Moroccan savoury cookies, I'm happy to call them “Moroccan colourful crackers" or "Moroccan version of Indian Punjabi Pathri".  The word FKAS pronouced as /FKKAːSS/ and here the letter "K" stands for the Arabic letter "ق" which is non-existent in English alphabet . The word “FKAS“ means, in Moroccan darija, “annoying or irritating", and my mum told me "FKAS" got its name due to the fact that it's notoriously time-consuming, difficult to make, to be baked twice, to be allowed to rest for over 24 hours, then cut thinly into diagonal slices with high precision to get the right thickness of fkas biscuit, and this has always been the old technique used to make either sweet or savoury version of fkas.

5 Feb 2015

In memory of my mum! Khbiza O Zbida! Bread and Butter Sandwich!

That was my favourite childhood sandwich, known in Morocco as “Khbiza O Zbida” = {Khbiza means Bread and Zbida means traditional butter}. Nothing fancy, only bread and traditional butter, but I was always delighted when my mum got to make one for me. This sandwich goes only with one type of bread, the yeasty goodness of fresh, hot home-made bread. I liked mine to get nice and dark crust and the butter had to be oozing out.

1 Jan 2015

Moroccan Cookies / Cakes! Dwaz Atay / دواز أتاي

Moroccan Cookies / Cakes!
Dwaz Atay  /   دواز أتاي  

In Morocco, there are a variety of special cookies and biscuits, all are a wonderful luxury treat for any time! Generally, these Moroccan cookies speak of home and are produced from natural ingredients, using no artificial colours or flavours and are served with hot fresh mint tea and this is why we call them in Morocco "Dwaz Atay"  which means = Cookies that are accompanied by tea. Serving Moroccan tea with rich cookies is widely used throughout the whole Kingdom, and it could be after a meal, or after school, or for an afternoon tea, or simply for the fact it is the weekend, or for any occasion, either special or a family reunion.

You've been warned, this is the show-off territory in Moroccan Cuisine! Though most of home-made Dwaz Atay recipes are simple, however they are meant to make friends, guests and family members "Wowed" as soon as they take their first bite! So we absolutely want to impress everyone who tastes them, and this is the reason why an authentic Moroccan recipe will focus on the combination of  "Great flavour Taste" with "Great-Looking"!

20 Nov 2014

Ramadan in Kingdom of Morocco ! What is Ramadan and when is Ramadan?

I often receive emails from my blog readers asking if it is ok to visit Morocco during Ramadan and what this celebration exactly means, and how long it lasts etc..., so I have decided to write this article to talk about Ramadan in Morocco, hoping it will be helpful and answer all your questions.

Ramadan {R A M A T H A N} in classic Arabic and Ramdan {R A M D A N} in Moroccan Darija is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and the most sacred of the twelve months of the year. The month of Ramadan marks the anniversary of the revelation of the Quoran (also spelled as Coran or Koran) to the Prophet Mohammed in the Cave of Hira.  During Ramadan, all Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink during the daylight hours. It is One (1) Month Celebratory Holiday, but there are also deeper spiritual meanings tied to this month.  Ramadan is not all about "Food" and "Drink", but it is an occasion that marks the beginning of the Month, during which all Muslims reflect upon their actions over the past year, seek forgiveness for their transgressions, purify their soul, refocus on spiritual practice and help the poor and needy.

The Fast starts the 1st day of the month of Ramadan according to the Islamic calendar, and since the Gregorian date changes every year, so whatever date Ramadan starts, it is assumed that it will start about 10-12 days earlier the following year, and so on.  Three years ago, Ramadan started on August 2nd, 2011 (I remember well the date, since it was my son Nassim's Birthday), and in 2012, the First Day of Ramadan was around July 20th or 21st, then in 2013, it was around July 11th or 12th.  So, this year 2014, Ramadan is likely to start around the end of June or beginning of July. Unfortunately, Muslims have never agreed on one day to start the Fasting of Ramadan because of the differences between Chiâa and Sunniyine (الشيعيون-السنيون ), so don't be surprised if some countries start their fasting with Arabia Saudia and others with Iran and Syria, no doubt, there are some political issues behind all these.  Generally, in Morocco, the 1st day of fasting is based on the moon sighting as it is the case for many other Muslim countries; however, two different opinions are implied here: some believe Ramadan should start at one (1) single moon sight regardless of the place, whereas others insist that the moon should be sighted in each locality of the country. Sadly in Morocco, Muslims would split on this issue, and there is always a group of people called "Ikhwan Muslimine =إخوان مسلمون " who fast one day before the rest of Moroccan Muslims, and even celebrate Eid adha one day before.  Ironically, the religion that is supposed to strengthen the ties of families, relatives and friends has been reduced to a spiritual tool by a minority religious group, leading us to separated paths and formation of distinctive groups.

Who should fast and who shouldn't?

All  Muslims should fast one month per year except:

1-Children under 16: are definitively not obliged to fast but this is again very controversial between Chiâa and Suniyine, and between the Islamists and social-modern Muslims.  Quoran doesn't specify exactly the age when to start fasting, but as parents, we are responsible for our children's well-being and it goes without saying, a little of common sense should be used here, and NEVER force a child to fast. Forcing children to do Ramadan is an inhuman, irresponsible parenting act and just wrong.  During Ramadan, some Islamists-Extremists force their children to fast at the age of seven (7) years old, and they will proudly repeat in front of friends and family how "good Muslim" is their child, who already fasts the whole month at this very early age. I think we need to create sort of new jobs with the title "Ramadan Social Workers"!

However, I do believe it's good to allow the children to find out what Ramdan feels like, by letting them fast a few hours or even half day if they can and as long as fasting does not physically harm their health.  Ramadan should be a good childhood souvenir instead of a horrifying physical experience, and of course as the children mature, they will eventually embrace their parents' religious beliefs and understand the meaning of Ramadan, just like we all did!

2- Travellers: if you are travelling, it is permitted to break the fast, provided that you make up the missed day when you can.

3-Pregnant and breastfeeding women : should not fast, since this will definitively harm their babies.  Drinking and eating on different hours during the day is quite important and vital if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. What you eat and drink will help your baby to develop and grow healthy!  Of course, these women can make up the missed days when they can.

4-Menstruating women, women with postpartum bleeding, women going through menopause and suffer from SEVERE migraine : should not fast since blood loss frequently results in fatigue, severe headache, stomach ache, dizziness, vomiting, physical weakness and bad mood. Of course, you can make up the missed days when you feel better after.

5- Old people, mentally sick people and people with diabetes should not fast. In general, if you are suffering from any sickness and you have to take medicine several times during the day, and you know that fasting is making your sickness worse and no better, you shouldn't fast. Listen to your doctor and use your common sense.  Ramadan should be a happy and healthy celebration and not a torture.

19 Nov 2014

Top Two (2) Feel-Home Food for Ramadan in Morocco: Sellou or Slilo, a Unique Unbaked Moroccan Sweet for Ramadan!

I always spend my two weeks before Ramadan baking up a storm, but this year is exceptional! I've received a few orders from my blog readers and friends, willing to buy my chabakia and sellou, and this has been the longest uninterrupted two weeks pre-Ramadan ever.  I spent most of my time between work and baking, a lot of baking, but guess what? I loved it, it was a pure delight to me!

25 Sep 2014

عَقْدَةْ اللّوز/Homemade Almond Paste/Pâte d'Amandes!

Almonds are the most commonly used nuts in Morocco and where would Moroccan pastry be without them? The almonds, either whole or sliced or toasted or fried or ground with skin on, or blanched, are a staple in Moroccan dishes, as well as dessert pastes.

Almond and amlou paste are food pastes made from ground, dry almonds, and both versions are very popular in Morocco.  Amlou Paste = أَمْلُو uses ground, dry almonds with skin on, all mixed with Argan oil and pure honey.  Whereas, the almond paste, known in Moroccan language as "3a9dat Louz" = (عَقْدَةْ اللّوز), uses ground, dry, blanched almonds (skin off), and it is widely used as a filling in most moroccan pastries.

11 Sep 2014

European Macarons /Macarons Européens

The first time I tasted macaroons, I was in USA.  They are very delicious cookies, known as American coconut macaroon.  Then a few years ago, I went to France, it was my first trip to Paris.  Wowww, I still remember all those oh-la-la-so-French, exceptionally delicate almond meringue sandwich cookies in many Patisseries windows. I literally gasped when I saw those incredible macarons and I couldn't resist them! So creative, stunning and fashionable. Everything about them sounded perfect : the colour, taste, flavour, filling, etc .......

My attempt to make different flavours of French Macarons!

Last week, I prepared these macarons for my friend daughter first birthday . As you know, I made my first macarons two weeks ago, Orange Flavour Macarons RECIPE HERE; and looking at these pictures I am posting now, I am afraid to admit I might be hooked!

French Heart-Shaped and Dark Macarons/Macarons Français Coeurs et Noirs For Mactweets Challenge!

I was planning to make these macarons for Mac Attack 3 last week, but I was hesitant for one reason: THE WEATHER.  Last week the weather was horrible; it was pouring and snowing outside, then I decided to start making my first batch of heart-shaped macarons.  I chose pink powder colour.  I never tried this shape before, it was a big challenge for me!  However, I was disappointed with the filling, because the butter cream I bought, as you may see in the picture, breaks.  It must be made with margarine instead of real butter.  This will teach me to make my own butter cream next time.

French, Saffron, Curcuma Macarons For Mac Attack 5!

First I would like to wish you all a very happy Mother's Day!  Many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother's Day at different times throughout the year.  In UK, it is today, March 14, 2010 : the Mothering Sunday Date.  UK holds the prestige of being the first country in the world to celebrate that very special day.

French Macarons Rings / Bagues Macarons Français for MacAttack!

I had specially made these Macarons for Mactweets February Challenge that Deeba of Passionate about baking and Jamie of Life's a feast are hosting. This month theme is "Valentine Special"  Macarons. 

French Coffee Macarons/Macarons Français Au Café/For Mac Attack 7

This month's challenge at Mac attack is "MacTell Me A Story!" and our favourite book as a child. Mine,  was "One thousand and one nights"‎.  I basically grew up on this book.
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