Monthly Archives: July 2010

Pasha Glaoui’s Legacy & Kasbahs in Morocco, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Pacha Glaoui

Pasha T’hami Glaoui was the most powerful man in Morocco between 1953 and 1956, in addition to being one of the richest men in the world at that time.  The title Pasha means Governor.  Glaoui was the Pasha of Marrakesh (since 1912), Ouarzazate, and most of the Moroccan south during the time Morocco was under French rule. The most important Kasbahs’ in Morocco that were occupied by the Pacha Glaoui during his reign and are frequented by Moroccan travelers today are Kasbah Taouirt, located in the center of Ouarzazate, Ait Benhaddou, located 15 kilometers outside Ouarzazate and Kasbah Telouet which sits in the village of Telouet nestled outside the Onilla Valley.

Glaoui Palace in Marrakesh during the days of Pacha Thami El Glaoui

As a result of the Pasha Glaoui siding with the French since the beginning of the 20th Century, Moroccans view Glaoui as a traitor.  However it was the Glaoui’s siding with the French which propelled him toward such enormous wealth and power.

Thami El Glaoui in center front row watching Paris dancers in Marrakech in 1952

So, how did Glaoui become so powerful?  Glaoui was born to Si Mohammed ben Hammou, who was a baron (also called a “caid” in Morocco) and his Ethiopian concubine Zora, in 1879.  Si Mohamed died in 1888.  T’hami became the teenage assistant of his eldest brother Si Madani, who took over after their father’s death.

Kasbah Taouirt Ouarzazate

In 1893, while Sultan Moulay Hassan was on a tax-gathering expedition, the two Glaoui brothers and their mother had the good fortune to save the sultan from a blizzard and starvation while he was on a tax-gathering expedition through the mountains.  To show his gratitude, the sultan gave the Glaouis a gift of the 77-mm Krupp cannon, which can now be viewed in the Kasbah de Taourirt in Ouarzazate.  At that time, this was the only such weapon outside of the imperial army.  The Glaouis used it to subdue rival warlords in the surrounding then-feudalistic society, which continued through the 1950’s.

77-mm Krupp Cannon given to the Glaouis

In 1907, Si Madani was appointed as the Grand Vizier to Sultan Moulay Hafid, and Thami was appointed as Pasha of Marrakesh.

The Glaoui’s actual family name is El Mezouari, a name given to their ancestor in 1700 by Sultan Moulay Ismail.  El Glaoui refers to their belonging to the Glaoui tribe, which is mostly located around the 4 x 4 mountain pass of Telouet.  Many natives of Telouet now have the name Glaoui, but are not actually part of the El Mezouari family.

Glaoui Kasbah in Telouet

The Glaouis were already rich, and their early wealth was based on salt.   Their wealth continued to grow though what was brought by the camel caravans crossing the Sahara from as far away as Mauretania and Sudan.  Once Glaoui sided with the French, they gave him free reign in “pacifying” the South, as well as giving him both the olive and saffron trades, and Moroccan salt and mineral mines.  Glaoui also earned a substantial income from the red light district in Marrakesh known as the “Quartier Reservé.”

T'Hami El Glaoui (center) in LIFE Magazine

In 1953, Pasha Glaoui conspired with the French in the exile of Moroccan Sultan Mohamed V.  However, Mohamed V returned to Morocco in 1955 after the French decided Morocco was falling into chaos, and left, abandoning their support of Glaoui.  All of Glaoui’s property was siezed by the state, and his kasbahs fell into disrepair.  In 1956, Morocco gained independence, and Glaoui died.

Thami L'Glaoui

In recent years, much restoration has been done on the various Glaoui kasbahs, which are considered a very important part of Morocco’s heritage.

For more information about a Morocco Travel visit to the Pachi Glaoui’s Kasbahs in Morocco

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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How to Prepare Moroccan Terjla, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Moroccan Terjla Prepared for the Table, as a Side Dish

Moroccan terjla (the Moroccan Arabic name) is frequently prepared as a side dish, and can be served either hot or cold.  Terjla, a succulent plant, known as purslane in English and verdolaga in Spanish, is not only one of the most delicious Moroccan plants, but it is simple to prepare.  Being a dark green plant, it is loaded with iron, vitamins, and minerals.  It also has a mild lemony flavor. When traveling to Morocco make sure to ask your Moroccan Travel Agency to recommend restaurants or local places where you can taste Moroccan terjla in a traditional restaurant.

Close-up View of the Moroccan Terjla Plant

Close-up View of the Moroccan Terjla Plant

Terjla is not often available in the major supermarkets because it is considered a traditional Moroccan dish, and the supermarkets often cater to products they feel will appeal to a broader audience of foreigners and less traditional Moroccans.  However, terjla can easily be found from late spring to late autumn in all the local vegetable markets.  The best place to find it in Marrakech is the small vegetable sellers just inside Bab Dukkala; however, it is found in many other places.  It’s a traditional staple in the cuisines of Fes, Casablanca, Tangier, Agadir, Ouarzazate, and Marrakech.

If you are traveling in Morocco, you are most likely to eat terjla in a private home.  If you are staying in a smaller hotel or riad and would like to try it, request it a day in advance, and they can look for it in the local market.  Most places would probably be delighted to prepare it for you.

How to Prepare Terjla

Traditional Moroccan Method:

Chopped terjla with whole garlic cloves

Discard any bruised leaves, and chop terjla (stems and leaves together) into 1/4″ (1/2 cm) pieces.  Put into a deep bowl.  Fill with water, and swish well; pour through a large strainer to drain out wash water.

Put terjla into water with some salt (it’s not a bitter plant, so take care not to oversalt it) and boil about 20 minutes until tender, but not limp). Drain water.

Season and toss gently with a clove or two (depending upon quantity) of freshly minced garlic, a little cumin, a little paprika, salt to taste (carefully) OR a very small piece of preserved lemon (but not if you added salt–use only one or the other), and a little olive oil.  Red olives can also be added.

Adapted Method which Yields Excellent Results:

Washed and trimmed terjla, ready to chop

Wash and trim the terjla of any bruised leaves (if it is just fresh from the market, it will only need to be washed).  I suggest swishing it two or three times in a deep mixing bowl of water.  Sometimes some very tiny black seeds will fall out if the terjla is in bloom.

Tiny terjla seed pods

But if there, these seeds are so tiny you don’t need to worry about them.  I trimmed off the tiny seed pods before chopping the terjla.

Chop terjla (stems and leaves together) into 1/4″ (1/2 cm) pieces.  Have ready one large unpeeled garlic clove for each cup of chopped terjla.

Two cups of chopped terjla placed in a steamer basket with two large garlic cloves

Choose one of the following cooking methods, both of which work:  boil chopped terjla with whole garlic cloves in plain water, or lightly salted water OR steam chopped terjla with whole garlic cloves in the basket for about 20 minutes.  (A Moroccan suggested the steam method to me, and I prefer it, since the vitamins don’t go down the drain with the boiling water.)

When the terjla is done, the garlic will be cooked inside.  Remove the garlic cloves, and carefully slice off the end.  The cooked garlic can be easily squeezed out into a small bowl from the opposite end.  Mash it into a paste with the back of a large spoon.  Add a small amount of black pepper and paprika to taste (1/8 tsp. of each for each cup of terjla).

slicing off the end of a cooked garlic clove squeezing a cooked garlic clove out of its skin garlic paste with black pepper and paprika in a bowl

Choose ONE of the following two : salt (lightly, to taste) OR a small piece of Moroccan preserved lemon (no more than 1/2 tsp. per cup of terjla, and take care not to use ANY salt).

Mix well, and add 1/2 Tbsp. of virgin olive oil for each  cup of cooked terjla (or more to taste).  Mix again well.  Add cooked terjla, and toss gently with a spoon until mixed well.  Optional, for olive lovers:  add two or three whole red olives for each cup of terjla.

Serve in side dishes at room temperature, warm on a cold day, or chilled on a hot day.  Terjla is delicious at any temperature.  Moroccans usually eat it with bread, as they do tagine; however, it may also be eaten with a spoon as a salad.

How to Find Terjla (Purslane) Outside of Morocco

Purslane grows in sunny areas from Canada to the Carribean, but is considered a weed in North America.  However, since it is a green vegetable used in Mexico and many Latin countries, you might be able to find it at Latin green grocers in North America.  (If collecting wild, take care that it is not in an area that has been deliberately poisoned as a weed.)

Wild summer purslane

According to experts, purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other green leafy vegetable plant.  It also contains vitamins A, C, and B, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

Upright purslane species grown as a vegetable

Wild species often grow along the ground, while cultivated species often stand more upright.  It has been used both as a salad and medicinal plant with many uses for hundreds of years.  Purslane is commonly used in salads in France.  The plant is believed to be native to the area of India and Iran.

For more information about a Moroccan Terjla or a Taste of Morocco Private Tour

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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