Welcome to the Kingdom of Morocco, country of Imazighens! The history of Moroccan cuisine, which is of Imazighens (Swassa, Ryafa and Zayanes), Jews, Andaloussi and Sahrawi origins, stretches back for several centuries and was able to adapt itself to changes and different modern ingredients from period to period. Moroccan cuisine is rated among one of the most cleverly balanced cuisines, with strong focus on rich flavours, aromas, texture, presentation, and perfect choice of spices and fresh ingredients, thus leading Moroccans to pride themselves on eating tasty, delicious and traditional food on a daily basis. Several Moroccan dishes have become increasingly popular now in other parts of the world (North of America, Australia and Western Europe) and it is no surprise that some neighbouring African countries have adopted the Moroccan Style Flavour. Welcome to my Blog!

22 Nov 2014

Kingdom of Morocco, country of varied culture!

What you need to know before visiting Morocco!

                      Imazighen Flag           National Morocco Flag

1.What is Morocco and who are the Moroccans?

I do love my country for all its faults and virtues!  Lots of my blog readers sent me emails asking if Morocco is a perfect place for tourism?  I don't think there is such a place called "perfect country".  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? or are you looking for long sabbatical travel?  The most common questions I've received by e-mails or via private chat in Google or Facebook are:

1-One of my blog readers 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".  My question now to you, can we call Morocco an Arab country?
2-Is it safe to travel to Morocco?
3-Are Americans or non-Muslims a major target there?
4-Is it really safe to bring my "woman" with me for shopping or walking in the streets?
5-Should my "woman" wear a scarf or Hijab or skirt or Burka, or whatever? etc...

To answer the first question: NO, Majority of Moroccans are not Arabs though most of Moroccans are Muslims. It is estimated that more than 80% of Moroccans are ethnically Imazighens (by Imazighens we mean either Swassa (South)Ryaffa (North) and Zayanes (Atlas-Center of the country), Sahrawis - See more details below under Moroccan Population in this article).  However, before answering the other questions, I admit I was really surprised, to say the least, because this reminds me of the hysteria following September 11, 2001.  If you live in Deptford or Catford or Lewisham (England) or New York City or Los Angeles (USA), 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. I myself, have never felt obliged to cover my face or wear a scarf or Hijab or gloves or Burka, when I decide to go outside in Morocco, and 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-Imazighen, if you intend to go to Atlas, your agent should be fluent in Zayanes-Imazighen, whereas; the North, it's of course Rifiya-Imazighen 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, majority of Moroccans don't speak fluently French as it was the case in the 60s, 70s and 80s. You will notice that people who are born between 50s and 80s, their French is more perfect and fluent in comparison with those born after the 80s. However, Moroccans who can afford to pay private schools, their children speak fluently several languages: French, English, classic Arabic, Imazighen and Darija.

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 = المملكة المغربية

4-Capital City : Rabat = الرباط

5-Total Land Area 710,850 sq km

6-Currency : Moroccan Dirham (DH). Currency Converter-Click here to check currency-
1 AED (United Arab Emirates Dirham) = 2.4049 MAD (Moroccan Dirham)
1 SAR (Saudi Riyal) = 2.3537 MAD (Moroccan Dirham)
1 KWD (Kuwaiti Dinar) = 30.3470 MAD (Moroccan Dirham)
1 GBP (British Pound Sterling)  = 13.8197 MAD (Moroccan Dirham)
1 EUR (Euro) = 10.9962 MAD (Moroccan Dirham)
1 USD (US Dollar) = 8.8336 MAD (Moroccan Dirham)
1 CAD (Canadian Dollar) = 7.7347 MAD (Moroccan Dirham)

7-Religions: Sunni Islam = الاسلام السّني
There is a minority of Chiâa as well = الشّيعة, 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".   The constitution provides for the freedom to practice one's religion, although the government places some restrictions on this right in practice. Only Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Hindu are tolerated in practice.

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 Language : Since summer of 2011, and after several years of repeated acts of governmental suppression, 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 ( Soussiya) in the South
b-Tarifit or Rifiya in the North
c-Zayanes or Zayaniya in the Central Middle Atlas (Khenifra ).

9.2.-Moroccan Language or DarijaThis is the colloquial dialect, and most widely spoken by Moroccans  in general in everyday conversations, songs, movies, on informal occasions, etc....  Some people prefer to call this dialect "Moroccan-Arabic", which is confusing, because Darija is far from being Arabic, in fact our Darija is not understandable to Arab speakers, and this is simply due to the fact that it has had its large share of borrowing words and expressions from different communities represented by three different dialects of Imazighens (North, South and Atlas), Jews, Andaloussi, Sahrawis, Arabs, Spanish and French, thereby making Darija so difficult and even impossible to understand by Arabs.  Mauritania and Algeria are probably the only countries where our Darija can be understood.  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, Saudi Arabia, etc..... 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, expressions and words.

In spite of the different dialects in Morocco, you will be able to understand and make yourself understood if you speak standard Darija, except in some villages where Imazighen is the only language used to communicate. 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 Moroccan DialectIt is a mixture of French and Moroccan Dialect, widely used in big cities such as Casablanca and Rabat, especially in international companies, certain administrations, businesses, technical fields, Banks, some universities and schools, etc.....  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: "Voiture", "Bus", "ça va 3lik?", "D'accord", "Pas de problème", "Tout vas bien?", "Un de ces quatre", etc....." 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 Moroccan Dialect : A person, who speaks Urban Moroccan Dialect, and visits the Moroccan-Arab Regions as Abda (عَبْدَة), Dokkala (دُكّالَة ), Mzab (مْزابْ ), Ben Hmad (بْنْ حْمْدْ ), may have difficulty understanding the strong and local accent. It sound like Darija but with some differences in accent and expressions.

9.2.3.-Majority of Imazighens living in big cities are bilingualWhen they speak urban dialect, they do with such a beautiful special accent, which is more or less the same as the Marrakchis (people from Marrakesh).

9.2.4.-Moroccans living in the East, speak Moroccan-Dialect, which is slightly different from the West speakers, with strong influences from eastern expressions and accent, same as our neighbours in the East.

9.2.5.-The Fassis (Natives of Fes =الفاسييّن ) and the Northern Moroccan Arabic Dialect = الّلهجة الشّماليّة, which is quite distinguishable, with all its linguistic characteristics and a very special lovely accent.

9.3-Classical ArabicIt is the official as well as the religious language.  The Classical Arabic is taught in Mosque, Primary and Secondary Schools, 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 Western Sahara..  This is the dialect native to Mauritania, which has the characteristics of two (2) languages: Classical Arabic and Imazighen language, especially Soussiya.

9.5- French: Most Moroccans, living in big cities as Casablanca and Rabat, speak French fluently (but only those have been in private schools).  Since the 80s and due to the "Arabisation System", public schools have focused on classic Arabic than any foreign language. French is also the language that is taught from very early age on private primary schools and even at the nursery centers. 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.  In Morocco, when the ad states a "Pefect Bilingual" applicant" has the "priority" or "preferred", this means the two languages : "Classical-Arabic and French Speakers", it's important to mention here that Darija and Imazighen are not included as languages when it comes to job search, which is sad because both Imazighen and Darija are the first languages of Moroccans yet they are not used at professional level, putting more pressure on Moroccans to learn foreign languages such as classic Arabic, French and English to find a suitable job.  Some employers would wait until the interview to ask their candidates if they speak Imazighen language, 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 Western 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.

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.

Zakat الزكاة:

Ramadan is viewed as the Month of giving and generosity and all Muslims have the obligation to assess and pay their "Zakat" during Ramadan. Zakat is the arabic word for the acts that we call "Charity" as known in English language, and it refers to the obligation that all Muslims have to donate a certain proportion of their wealth each year.  However the act of  "Charity" is quite different from the obligation of Zakat in Islam.  If Charity suggests a magnanimous act by a small group of people who are very wealthy and powerful for the benefit of the poor or a certain institution, Zakat is rather a mandatory process, and not considered as a magnanimous act. It is obligatory upon all Muslims to give a certain percentage of their wealth and assets each year to the poor and needy.  Zakat is viewed as an act of justice, fairness in taxation, and a duty, so it's every Muslim's responsibility to find out exactly the amount of money he/she should donate at the end of Ramadan. Some Muslims use Zakat calculator or ask help from specialists to define the right amount for Zakat.

Food and preparation for Ramadan:

Even if Ramadan means fasting all day from dawn to sunset, this does not mean "Light Food or Less Cooking". Actually, in Morocco, there are so many traditional, rich and versatile dishes made specially for Ramadan and which differ widely from one region to another.  The main meal in Ramadan is called "FTOOR" in Darija  (known in Arabic as "IFTAR"), which means the end of fasting at sunset.  Ftoor is a happy, special occasion for all families to get-together around the table, listening to Quoran, or to Tarab Andaloussi (Moroccan Classic Music), or simply watching TV, chatting, sharing recipes, etc.....  Ftoor, an important meal which lasts for a good couple of hours, happens just after the sunset after Maghreb prayer, and this meal is served surrounded by all family members, and sometimes Ftoor is served on 3 or 4 tables especially during the four (4) weekends of this month, it is pretty much akin to Christmas Night!

During the few days before Ramadan arrives, everyone becomes excited especially children and mums: children because they know Ramadan means less hours at school, less exams, less homework and most importantly a lot of special and traditional treats on the table every single day for 30 days. It is almost like a party atmosphere every night for the happy children.  As for mums, they are responsible for a well stocked pantry and an essential list of ingredients to have on hand before the start of Ramadan, and the dads have to pay the bills, of course. If you go to the Souk or market few days before Ramadan, you can see mums shopping, hustling and bustling about preparing the most popular Ramadan treats in Morocco i.e. Chabakiya, the famous tressed cookies soaked in honey, Krachel, Hrira, Briwat, Mini-Bastilla, Salloo, Rziza, Mssamen, Malwi, Baghrir, Harsha etc... That's why, exactly one week before Ramadan, Morocco streets are transformed into Food Workshops and Iron Food Competition!

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!
This is Tquawt (also known as Sellou or Slilo or Sfouf or Zmitta), this is definitively top feel-home food for Ramadan in Morocco.  It has so many different names but each name refers to the same nut-based paste, known as energy paste or brown mixture.  This is a unique Moroccan speciality which is made of amazing mixture of almonds, sesame seeds and other spices and flavourings. Sellou is not only impressive to look at, it is a taste buds pleaser too!

Although Sellou might seem complicated to make, it is actually a very easy recipe if you have the right tools and ingredients required.  Most Sellou recipes contain two basic nuts (Almonds and Sesame Seeds), which are blended along with regional and traditional spices into a thick rich paste. Though Sellou is one of several traditional dessert treats, served at Weddings, Newborn Ceremonies and other special occasions, it is particularly consumed in Ramadan during Ftour or Iftar (the evening meal that breaks the day-long fast), as it is very nutritious and gives instant energy. Actually, this has made Sellou synonymous with Ramadan.

Traditionally, Sellou is considered as a natural dietary remedy, and is recommended for nursing mothers as it has been known to increase the milk supply. Moroccan nursing mothers consume this nutritious and fortifying paste for at least 30 days after childbirth, and it really helps to increase milk secretion.

11 Nov 2014

Top One (1) Feel-Home Food for Ramadan in Morocco! Chabakia B'Kawkaw, this year! Also called Mkharqua in Fes Region and Griwich in Agadir Region and others!

This year I've chosen peanuts over almonds to make Chabakiya, and I was not disappointed, it turned out delicious! I am sure all Moroccans will agree with me if I put Chabakia on top of all the food prepared during Ramadan in Morocco. 

Traditionally, Chabakia is prepared one week ahead before the start of Ramadan, stored preciously to last, hopefully, for the whole month. No doubt, pictures of these sweet cookies will be downloaded all over social networks by Moroccans who celebrate Ramadan, shaped in different forms, but "roses" remain the most popular and the most famous.

As we know, Chabakia is made to be served along with Hrira (Harira), its sweetness works perfectly well with the sour taste of this delicious soup.

Related Posts:

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.

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!

For recipe, I always use my usual recipe adapted from La cuisine de Mercotte, the Queen of French Macarons!..

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,  I must confess, was the Arabian Nights "One thousand and one nights"‎.  I basically grew up on this book.

French Chocolate and Almond Macarons / Macarons Français aux Chocolat et Amandes/Mac Attack #18

My love for chocolate gets me back to Mactweet attack! I really heart chocolate and my favourite is Dark Chocolate with Almonds! And who doesn’t love the combination of chocolate and almonds?  I think chocolate is one of the most mysterious sweets and so many questions were raised about the industry of chocolate, its consistency, texture, flavour, its secrets, etc.....  I served those macarons on Chocolate Dessert Cups with Strawberry and Moroccan Almond Briwat or Triangles! So delicious!

Violet and Mint French Macarons / Macarons Français Violets et à la Menthe

I should have posted these a long time ago. I made those mint-violet macarons quite a few weeks ago, but I haven't had the time to post them. Whenever I decide to make macarons, I always seem to make them after 8h00 pm or when it's raining or worst, on a hot humid day. When I decide to make macarons, nothing could change my mind.  So I decided to make these treats, so be it.

Another day, another macaron!

Wishing you all a very lovely Day, with lots of Love and Happiness!  

For recipe, I always use my usual recipe adapted from La cuisine de Mercotte...

Bûche au chocolat blanc et orange / Gâteau roulé!


-Gâteau roulé préparé en avance.

- Comme garniture, j'ai mis la crème au chocolat blanc dont voici la recette Cliquez pour lire la recette: Crème au chocolat blanc!

-Pour décorer, fleurs de pâte à sucre que j'ai préparées en avance dont voici le lien Cliquez pour lire la recette: Fleur faite à base de pâte de fleurs / Finger flower made with Sugar Florist Paste

Gâteau aux carottes, Spécialité Nord-Américaine! / Carrot Cake, North American Specialty!


- 225 gr farine self-raising (si vous utilisez farine normale: il faut y ajouter à la recette 1 c à thé de levure chimique et 1/4 c à thé de bicarbonate de soude. / 225 gr self-raising four, should you use normal pastry flour , add 1 tea spoon of baking powder and 1/4 tea spoon of baking soda.  Self- raising flour has sodium bicarbonate or similar in it so no need to put baking powder 
- 250 gr de sucre semoule / 250 gr caster sugar

- 1/4 c à thé de levure chimique / 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

- 1 c à soupe de cannelle moulue / 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

- 2 oeufs de taille moyenne / 2 medium eggs

- 170 ml de l'huile / 170 ml oil

- 2 carrottes râpées / 2 grated carrots

- 100 grde noix / 100 gr chopped walnuts

- 125 ml de compote de pommes / 125 ml apple compote

Raspberry and White Chocolate Mousse Charlotte / Charlotte à la mousse au chocolat blanc et framboises

This charlotte double mousse recipe is an easy variation of the elegant fanciful French Cake.  Instead of lady fingers, I used 2 rolled cakes, sliced and soaked in a raspberry syrup.  You might use any recipe of a rich chocolate and raspberry mousse as a filling, and you have to chill it for several hours prior to serving.  As for the presentation, I didn't need to add anything special or any elaborated decoration, surprisingly it turned out nice and tasted delicious!
K. El Mary / Mamatkamal

Pièce montée / Croquembouche for DB Challenge of May 2010

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a croquembouche.  The recipes she chose come from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and were originally created by famed pastry chef, Nick Malgieri.

The Australia's National Dish: Pavlova!

They call it the Australia's National Dish, named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian dancer, one of the finest classical ballet dancers in history.  Since I'm a big fan of meringue, I thought about it for a while and decided that I could make a Pavlova myself and why not?   I knew this would take sometime and practice, but nothing could stop me from making it.  So,  I tried some recipes, trying to reproduce the perfect texture of Pavlova but failed to succeed.  There was always something wrong with my meringue: either shrinks or puffs over then deflates once out of the oven etc....  Luckily,  there are so many handy tips to meringue online, most of them suggest to add some cream tartar in the white eggs, bring egg whites to room temperature to ensure volume when beating, and turn the oven off and leave the meringues inside the closed oven,  etc....  Taking all these tips into account, finally my Pavlova turned out nice and delicious but there is still room for improvement. I added a touch of sesame seeds at the end before baking the meringue, I just can't help it, I love too much these little golden seeds!

My First Tiramisu Attempt... / Daring Bakers February 2010 Challenge

I have no more reason to postpone making Tiramisu. This is my first Tiramisu and I'm sure it will not be the last one. It tastes really good!  When I read the challenge for Februrary was Tiramisu, I had two immediate thoughts: first I was so happy because I love Tiramisu so much but never tried it before, and the second thought was "oupps, this will not be an easy challenge for me!".  I was lucky since I had one week off from work, so I managed to complete the task a few days ago instead of last minute as I was expecting.  It took me almost 4 days to finish my Tiramisu, first I started making those lovely savoiardi biscuits, then mascarpone cheese, zabaglione, and finally pastry cream and whipped cream.

The Daring Kitchen

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking and they chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a Tiramisu from scratch. They chose Baltimore pastry chef Carminantonio Iannaccone’s version of tiramisu and recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession. Their recipe called for the following components:

Anwar's Castle Cake/Gâteau Château d'Anwar

I am not a great cakemaker but when Kamal and Nassim wanted a castle cake for their little brother Anwar's first Birthday I had to look for ideas.  I love cakes that have no plastics or any artificial stuff being used as part of decoration i.e. everything is to be eaten without any part of it left :).  Kamal, Nassim and I made this cake from the Cake Decoration Book "No-Time Party Cakes" by Carol Deacon, see the book below.  It was a great help, we just followed the step by step instructions and it was fun.

Manhatthan roulade and Happy New Yea-Bonne Année

Mary Berry is one of the UK's best known and one of the most respected cookery writers in the country. I love her recipes because they are simple, clearly illustrated and most importantly, I've never tried one of her recipes and it didn't work well.  This is the second time that I tried Manhattan Roulade, but the thing (this is how I call my camera) won't take a picture because I was out of batteries, so I couldn't post it .  This is not the first time my camera let me down , so I made sure, before starting my cake, that the batteries are fully charged and everything was all right.  Here is the recipe of this lovely cake and hope you like it.  Happy New Year everyone.
Recipe, adapted from Mary Berry's recipes "Dessert"

Gâteau chemise et cravate pour la fête des pères / Father's Day Shirt and Tie Cake

Image hébergée par Casimages.com : votre hébergeur d images simple et gratuit

Pour la fête des pères, mes enfants ont décidé de faire un gâteau pour Babatkamal et voilà le résultat.
My kids decided to make that cake for their dad on Father's Day. I did my best to help them.

Ingredients et preparation / Ingredients and Method

- Gâteau Madeira / Madeira Cake 

Ici la recette / Here the recipe: Madeira Cake

- Pâte à sucre / Icing paste

- Pâte d'amande / Almond Paste

- Sucre glacé / Icing Sugar

- Colorant alimentaire / Food Colouring

- Nappage d'abricot / Apricot glaze

Gâteau au fromage et aux framboises / Cheese and Raspberries Cake!


Croûte / The base

- 150g de farine blanche / 150g white flour
- 3 cas de sucre semoule / 3 tablespoon caster sugar
- zeste d'1 citron / 1 lemon zest
- 60g de beurre coupé en petits morceaux / 60g butter cut into small pieces
- 1 jaune d'oeuf, battu / 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 1/2 cat d'essence de vanille / 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Madeira Cake!

Un  gâteau bien connu et populaire, si riche et il se conserve très bien.  Normalement , ce gâteau est préparé avec "self-raising flour".  La recette est facile à retenir, comme vous allez le remarquer dans la recette, la quantité du beurre, sucre et farine sont les mêmes.  J'ai utilisé un moule à charnière rond 28 cm.
Source: Mary Berry

Chocolate and Mint-Tea Marble Loaf / Gâteau Marbré au Chocolat et Thé à la Menthe

This is such a simple, tasty and delicious cake, beautifully presented and it actually looks like it tastes, even better than it looks.  It is a wonderful treat for children anytime. Its texture is moist but not too moist either and the icing drizzle on top is really lovely!
Mamatkamal, K. El Mary

22 Aug 2014

"Morocco Version" of French Beignets (Sweet Doughnuts or Donuts)/Version Marocaine du Beignets Sucrés!

It is raining sugar!
A few weeks ago, I had a hankering for French Beignets, pronounced as (BAI-NYEE), a sugary pastry, very popular in Morocco as well. Like North-American version doughnuts (donuts), beignets are a French puffy deep-fried pastry, circle-shaped, and without a hole, served hot, garnished with caster or icing sugar.  However, unlike North-American doughnuts, beignets tend to be very light and airy with a hollow centre cavity that is usually filled with jam, crème patissière, melted chocolate etc......

26 May 2014

Frifra -Moroccan Fan-Shaped Cookies / Petit-Four Marocain Frifra!

It was not until the 60s and 70s that Moroccan cookies started to take different and funny shapes and this is due to primarily to advances in food manufacture and availability of cookies molds, which are made either in metals or wood.  Before, the pastry dough was shaped into circles or moon (Ka3b Lghzal), using a tea glass to cut a cookie dough or simply our hands to shape the dough balls.

One of the cookie cutter which is quite popular in Morocco is "Frifra" [F R Y F R A], which means "Fan". These cookies actually have pretty much the exact same flavour and texture as Ghriba.  The bite will melt in your mouth, getting a nice little hum of heart warming ginger flavour, followed by a sweet yet subtle kick of mixture of sesame, green aniseeds and poppy seeds. These are one of my customers' favourite cookies, after Ka3b Lghzal (Corne de gazelle) and Chbakiya, of course!
Grâce à l'invention et développement de plusieurs moules à biscuits, plus en plus accessible aux mamans et grand-mamans durant les années 60s et 70s au Royaume du Maroc, les petits-fours Marocains ont enfin pu changer leur ancien look rond.  Ces moules à biscuits sont présentés de toutes sortes et formes, faits soit à base de métal ou de bois.  Avant l'apparition de ces moules aux Souks (marchés), les verres de thé étaient le seul choix pour découper la pâte en cercles ou tout simplement nos mains pour former des petites boulettes. Ainsi, plusieurs biscuits de différentes formes sont devenus populaires dans les années 60s et se sont trouvés une place sur nos tables pour célébrer les occasions particulières de chaque 3id.  La particularité de tous ces biscuits c'est qu'ils sont moulés à l'aide d'un moule spécial et le nom qu'on leur donne reflètent leur look.

Celui que je poste aujourd'hui est connu sous le nom de "FRIFRA" qui veut dire "Ventilateur" et dont la texture et le goût ressemble bien à celle de Ghriba, tellement délicieux! Ces biscuits partent toujours comme des petits pains, ils sont bien appréciés par mes clientes, et je ne suis pas surprise puisque ils possèdent une saveur chaude et brulante avec le mélange de gingembre, graines de sésame, d'anis vert et de nigelle.  Une Explosion de saveur du Maroc assurée!
K. El Mary, Mamatkamal

14 May 2014

Liponja Maskouta (Meskouta) - Moroccan Sponge Cake!

Liponja Maskouta (Kika) -Moroccan Sponge Cake
This is a huge Liponja Maskouta (Kika) about 10 cm high, one of those spongy, light and fluffy cake that you like to serve for special occasions.  This one is flavoured with a hint of cinnamon spice, honey, almond and Moroccan tea. Plain Maskouta cake is quite possibly my favourite cake of all the ones I've made and tasted, and I've already posted one or two recipes of this delicious cake in my blog, because it is tasty, soft, moist, and easy to make.  It's the kind of everyday cake I like to enjoy with Moroccan tea.  But now after trying several creamy Meskoutas, I am afraid I'm not quite ready to commit that plain version is my absolute favourite.

1 May 2014

Richbond (Mshimisha or Halwat Samira Bent Saïd [Kifach Tla9ina] or Moroccan Snow Balls / Richbond (Mchimicha ou Boules de Neige à la Marocaine)

كْوِيراتْ الثلْجْ
حلوة ريشبوند
حْلْوَة سميرة بْنْتْ سْعيدْ

It's one of those cookies that I vaguely recall as being pretty popular in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and I still see them on Moroccan tea-tables frequently.  They are too soft, extremely moist and much melt-in-your mouth, special to serve, yet easy on any one's baking budget. This is a simple and traditional cookies passed on from mother to daughter, they taste really great, and as far as I know, they have four names and maybe more:

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