Sunday, 31 July 2016

cookbook review: a month in marrakesh

A Month in Marrakesh: A Food Journey to the Heart of Morocco.

Another installment in my "neglected cookbook series"! This time around, I explore A Month in Marrakesh, a fun cookbook that takes you on a tour of Marrakesh.

As an indolent cook, one thing I really like about A Month in Marrakesh: A Food Journey to the Heart of Morocco, is that it has an abundance of simple recipes. There are also more complicated or time-consuming ones for the more diligent cooks, and I enjoy their inclusion, too - the pictures and recipes are still interesting to look at, and who knows? Maybe one day I will be up for the challenge! I also appreciate the sturdy, hardcover construction of the book. I'm not the daintiest person in the world, so fragile books are a bit scary for me. This one feels reassuringly solid.

If I am to mention downsides, it would be that the layout can appear slightly messy at times, and the easier recipes are narrated paragraph-style, in which the ingredients are not outlined in a list but are incorporated into the instructions. Some people may not regard this as a problem, but I personally find it easier to make shopping lists and prepare stuff when the ingredients are all tidy and structured. Thankfully, for the recipes with more steps and ingredients, it is still done the way I prefer.

Flipping through the cookbook, the recipe for harira soup caught my eye. Even though it calls for more than a dozen ingredients (if you're familiar with the recipes I develop myself, you know I have a penchant for very brief ingredient requirements), I found it to be pleasingly accessible. This is wonderful, nourishing comfort food - lamb, chickpeas, onions and carrots in a stew of tomatoes, fabulously flavoured with lush tablespoons of spices - paprika, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon. The suggestion in the book is to pair this harira soup with flatbread, but I had it with couscous and it was also lovely. I was so charmed that I made it again soon after my first go, and then, yet again. Definitely regular dinner repertoire material.

Harira soup.

I got lazy for a while, so it took me some time to try another recipe from A Month in Marrakesh, but I finally did, and made the stuffed dates from the dessert section. This is a super straightforward recipe, and the stuffed dates make superb snacks - great for gatherings and parties! Though, in my case, I ate them all by myself, one after another, while watching Four Weddings and a Funeral. That also works.

Basically, you get some dates, make an incision, remove the seeds, and pack in a cooked paste of ground almonds, lemon zest, sugar, water, butter and rose water. I didn't have rose water and didn't want to buy a bottle just to make these, so I used a splash of lemon juice instead - which I know is totally different, but hey, I often love a sharp zing of citrus in my desserts, and it definitely delivered here. I will admit that I was a bit apprehensive when I tasted the almond meal concoction on its own - it was edible, but not quite delectable, as far as I was concerned. But somehow, once the almond paste is married to the dates, some kind of synergistic effect takes hold, and I found these stuffed dates to be rather addictive! So, yeah, I like them enough that I think I will probably make them again. Next time, though, it will be to share with other people, not to devour all on my own!

Stuffed dates.

Anyway, that's my review for A Month in Marrakesh. I am happy with the two recipes I've tried, and hopefully I won't neglect this book too much in the years to come - based on my experience so far, I think it's safe to say that there is yet more deliciousness to discover amongst these pages.


  1. that harira soup looks perfect for a cold Hobart weekend! and such brilliant flavours. yum!

    1. It really is such a great soup! So comforting and delicious.

  2. I'm stuck in a bit of a cookbook rut myself at the moment ... maybe it's time to pull out some of the un-utilised ones and see what they're hiding.


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