Updated: Apr 8
Thought for Food: Of tagines, flavoured snails in spicy soups and Moroccan sausages - a travelogue in the truest sense and a culinary guide
Now if you’re non-vegetarian and willing to experiment a bit, Morocco is a terrific place to get your culinary kick. The sizzle and sauté of the market place is heady, and those who prowl the street for customers can recognize an Indian a mile away. ‘Shah Rukh Khan!’ they exclaim when they see a Desi, a testimony to a nation that is obsessed with Bollywood. They rattle off dialogue from famous films, they prefer the old films to the new breed, and even pointed at Montry who had on a brown shawl and went ‘THAAKUR!” (Another chap also pointed at Vasu and went ‘Gabbar!’ but let’s not go there)
Moroccan food is not a whole lot like India’s. Foremost among their national dishes is the Tagine. Cooked in a clay pot with a conical covering (I suspect it has something to do with the convection of the flavours) it could have ingredients as varied as veggies to meat all in marinade of liberally sprinkled (but not in your face) spices. The final result is quite a treat to watch, as it is to eat. When our show got done, Sid Gogel (our overlord and master) treated us to some serious Tagine that we will not forget in a hurry!
[Photo-1] A wholesome Moroccan Tagine, loaded with peas, carrots, meat and wholesome green olives. Trust me, I tried it. It's awesome. And it wasn't even mine. The guy who ordered it in the market insisted I taste it. Pic: Jishnu Dasgupta
[Photo-2] One of our Tour Guides recommended Hassan's snail stall in the endless Jama el Fna square. Sure enough, they were A1. 10 Dhs for a Grande bowl, 5 Dhs for a Petit one. Yes, they speak French there. Pic: Jishnu Dasgupta
One imagines that if you’re an animal that’s slow and easy to catch, you’re going to be at the bottom of the food chain. If you did imagine that, you would be right, for the flavoured snack of the Moroccans at the top of the food chain (humans, of course) is SNAILS! That’s right, heaps on heaps of this delectable delicacy is up for sale in the streets. Stewing in a soup of no less than 57 spices you see these fine fellows who just couldn’t get away in time. You skewer the bugger with a toothpick and chomp on them, and when you’re done, drink the absolutely wonderful soup from the bowl.
Don’t miss the Saucisse, Moroccan sausages that have all the goodness in them. Mashed into a fine filling for sandwiches, they’re pretty damn awesome. Niranjan and I had a pretty filling meal of Saucisse plonked between two slices of Moroccan bread (which you use to detach the kebabs from the skewers too, by the way). As for beverage, you must try the Moroccan tea. A magical concoction of tea flavoured with more spices and condiments than you can shake a stick at. And the orange juice in the marketplace of course. Heavenly. Just ask Veggie Vasu.
[Photo] Saucisses sizzle in the saucepan. Alliterative food is often better tasting. Heh. Pic: Pavan KJ
Text: Jishnu Dasgupta