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Visit Rick’s Cafe Live In Casablanca – Remembering Morocco In 1942

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Video Tour: How to Make Moroccan Preserved Lemons

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Travel Diary of Moroccan Preserved Lemons

 

 

preserved-lemons

Preserved lemons are a staple in Moroccan cuisine and are added to slow cooking tagines, stews, and soups for a wonderful tangy lemon flavor that can not be duplicated by fresh lemons.  In Morocco, these lemons can be bought individually at a souk, or marketplace, and are very easy to find given their importance in Moroccan dishes.  Outside of Morocco these lemons may be found in Middle Eastern or international markets but are so easy to make many cooks decide to prepare their own preserved lemons at home.

The ingredients for Moroccan preserved lemons are extremely simple, all you need are whole fresh lemons, sea salt, lemon juice, and, in some recipes, vegetable oil.  There is also the option of adding additional spices to make the preserved lemons more suitable for sweet or savory dishes.  Cinnamon sticks are a common spice that is added for lemons that are going to be used in sweet dishes and pepper or bay leaves are added for lemons that are going to be used in savory tagine dishes.

 

The pickling process takes about one month and the preserved lemons will be good to use for up to six months.  A simple clean jar is sufficient to pickle the lemons in but it is suggested that if you are not planning on refrigerating the lemons that you use a proper sterilized canning jar.

To Make Preserved Lemons

Cut off both rounded ends of the lemon and make two deep cuts lengthwise downwards, careful not to cut all the way through, so that the lemon has been incised with an X.

Stuff the salt down into the cuts using about 1 tablespoon per lemon.

Pack the lemons tightly into the jar, pushing them to the bottom, and cover with lemon juice and any additional spices you choose to include.  Some recipes call for topping the jar with vegetable oil.

Leave the jar closed for one month, checking every couple of days to make sure the lemons are fully submerged in juice.

After one month the lemons are ready, the pulp and skins will have become soft and silken and can both be used in cooking recipes.  Some people use the juice as well but this is often too salty.  Rinse the lemons in water before using to wash away the extra salt and then add to any slow-cooking meat or vegetable tagine dish.

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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! Google on call Travel Exploration at (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Moulay Idriss – Travel to Morocco’s Holiest City

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Moulay Idriss is a Moroccan town and important religious site and place of pilgrimage for Muslims located just an hour away from Fes. The city is named after the Moroccan saint Moulay Idriss, a descendant of Muhammad, who died and was buried in 792 AD in the city that was eventually named after him. During his life in Morocco Idriss founded Morocco’s first Arab dynasty as well as the city of Fes and is accredited with converting the majority of Morocco’s population to Islam.

The Moulay Idriss itself is situated in a valley with lush green hillsides enclosing the white-washed houses of the city on three sides, making for a very beautiful sight.

The Shrine – Moulay Idriss

Today, Moulay Idriss’ tomb is a revered site and the city is considered to be the holiest city in Morocco. The tomb is considered to be a shrine and is accepted as a substitute pilgrimage for Muslims who cannot afford to travel to Mecca which, according to the five pillars of Islam, is one of the obligations of a Muslim man. Every August an important Moussem, or Muslim festival, is held in Moulay Idriss and Muslims from around the world come together to sing and dance in celebration of their faith. Although the tomb itself is not open to non-Muslims the sight can be enjoyed from the surrounding hillside or from one of the many taller buildings surrounding it.

Sacred mouslim city Moulay Idriss, Morocco, Africa

Idriss Medersa

Located in Moulay Idriss is the Idriss Medersa, an ancient Koran school, which was built using materials from taken from Volubilis, an important outpost of the Roman Empire, located nearby. The Idriss Medersa is famous for its unusual Minaret, added to the building by a wealthy pilgrim in 1939. The Minaret is circular, an unusual design throughout the Muslim world, and is decorated with white and green geometric shapes that spell out a passage from the Koran in Arabic.

The City

Despite non-Muslims being barred from entering the shrine, Moulay Idriss offers many other sites and experiences for visitors. Its winding streets, whitewashed houses, and magnificent hillsides make the city a beautiful sight and well-worth the trip. A weekly vegetable market, or souk, occurs every Saturday and is a great way for visitors to get a true Moroccan experience. As for food, The Restaurant Trois Boules d’Or offers great food and spectacular views and don’t forget to try the nougat of Moulay Idriss which is famous and can be bought almost anywhere in the city.

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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! Google on call Travel Exploration at (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Harira – The Traditional Moroccan Soup

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As both a starting point and a destination for merchants along ancient trade routes Morocco developed a cuisine that has Arabic, African, French, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern influences. This blending of cultures and ideas makes Moroccan cuisine unique and often quite surprising. Extensive use of dried fruits such as dates and figs, preserved lemons, nuts, and the blending of fresh herbs and spices gives Moroccan cuisine its distinctive, and delicious, taste.

Harira is the famous soup of Morocco that is traditionally served during Ramadan at sunset to break the daylight fast. While every family has its own recipe with slight variations the traditional Harira is a tomato based soup with lamb, chickpeas, lentils, and pasta, infused with the flavors of lemon, cinnamon, cilantro, parsley, saffron, and ginger, and thickened with flour and egg. The soup is traditionally served with a lemon slice and crusty bread, a small bowl of lemon juice for those who prefer their soup with a little extra, and a plate of figs which are also traditionally served to break fast during Ramadan.

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While traditionally only served during Ramadan or at weddings Harira is a Moroccan favorite that is hearty enough to be served as a meal on a cold winter’s night, find the recipe below and don’t forget the crusty bread!

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb. uncooked meat (lamb, beef or chicken), chopped into 1/2” pieces
  • several soup bones (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch cilantro (coriander), finely chopped to yield about 1/4 cup
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped to yield about 1/4 cup
  • 1 or 2 celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 1 can of chick peas
  • 1 tablespoon smen (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric or ¼ teaspoon yellow colorant
  • 6 large tomatoes (about 2 lb. or 1 kg), peeled, seeded and pureed
  • 2 to 3 tbsp lentils
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste, mixed evenly into 1 or 2 cups of water
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons uncooked broken vermicelli
  • 1 cup flour

Preparation:

Step 1 – Ahead of Time

  1. Peel, seed and puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Or, stew the tomatoes and pass them through a food mill to remove the seeds and skin.
  2. Pick the parsley and cilantro leaves from their stems. Small pieces of stem are OK, but discard long, thick pieces with no leaves. Wash the herbs, drain well, and finely chop them by hand or with a food processor.

Assemble the remaining ingredients and follow the steps below.

Step 2 – Brown the Meat

Put the meat, soup bones and oil into a 6-qt. or larger pressure cooker. Over medium heat, cook the meat for a few minutes, stirring to brown all sides.

Step 3 – Make the Stock

Add the cilantro, parsley, celery, onion, chick peas, tomatoes, smen and spices. Stir in 3 cups of water.

Cover tightly, and heat over high heat until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and release the pressure.

Step 4 – Make the Soup

Add the lentils, tomato paste mixture, and 2 quarts (or about 2 liters) of water to the stock.

Set aside (but don’t add yet), the vermicelli.

Cover the pot and heat the soup over high heat until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking.

Adding vermicelli: Cook the soup on pressure for 45 minutes. Release the pressure, and add the vermicelli. Simmer the soup, uncovered, for five to ten minutes or until the vermicelli is plump and cooked.

Step 5 – Thicken the Soup

While the soup is cooking, mix together the 1 cup of flour with 2 cups of water. Set the mixture aside.

Stir or whisk the mixture occasionally. The flour will eventually blend with the water. If the mixture is not smooth when you’re ready to use it, pass it through a sieve to remove balls.

Once the vermicelli has cooked, taste the soup for seasoning. Add salt or pepper if desired.

Bring the soup to a full simmer. Slowly — and in a thin stream — pour in the flour mixture. Stir constantly and keep the soup simmering so the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom.

You will notice the soup beginning to thicken when you’ve used approximately half the flour mixture. How thick to make harira is your own preference. I like to thicken the broth so that it achieves a cream-like consistency.

Simmer the thickened soup, stirring occasionally, for five to ten minutes to cook off the taste of the flour. Remove the soup from the heat.

Serves 6 to 8.

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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! Google on call Travel Exploration at (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Moroccan Souks – Travel Adventures in Moroccan Marketplaces

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The souks, or market places, in Moroccan cities often take up entire city blocks and are made up of stall after stall of goods that wind their way through the narrow alleys and side streets, often only wide enough for pedestrians and the occasional donkey. The stalls themselves are piled high with Moroccan goods from traditional brightly colored carpets and scarves, sacks of exotic herbs and spices, to freshly picked fruits and slaughtered meat from local farmers.

As well as a place for Moroccans to buy and sell their goods, souks are also important parts of the social scene within Moroccan culture, serving as a place to settle disputes and debts and also as a place where families can meet to discuss future wedding plans. As women customarily stayed home and kept out of the public eye in rural Morocco the weekly souks offered a chance for women from different families to meet, gather cooking materials for upcoming meals, and catch up on the latest gossip.

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Specialty Souks

The souks may seem chaotic crazy to an outsider but there is actually an organization to them that helps make the souks easier to navigate. Specialty souks within the souk itself specialize in one product such as Moroccan scarves, setting it apart from the next street over which might be the meat souk. This means shoppers can browse through the colorful stalls filled with silk scarves along one street to inspect the quality and compare the prices between stalls before moving on to the next street and selecting the cut of lamb they wish to purchase for dinner that night.

Haggling

Haggling is an expected part of the buying and selling process in Moroccan souks. It is not unusual for a shopper wishing to buy a high quality Moroccan rug to spend half the day bargaining with the rug seller over the price, often over many cups of sweet mint tea. The process usually begins with the shop keeper naming a price and then the buyer will then counter that offer usually with a number 1/3 to ½ the amount the shop keeper suggested. The buyer and seller will then go back and forth offering and counter offering before finally agreeing on a price. Patience and respect are important in the bargaining process and if a shop keeper allows you to walk away without purchasing his product then you underestimated its value and offered too low a price.

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Souks in Fes and Marrakech

Two of the most impressive souks occur in the cities of Fes and Marrakech. In Marrakech the souk is located behind the famous Djemma el Fna square where street performers, snake charmers, and story tellers gather along with food and orange juice vendors to provide entertainment and refreshment. The souk itself is spread out along the twisty side streets behind the square and offers shoppers a wide and varied choice of traditional Moroccan goods.

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While Marrakech is famous of its circus-like main square the souk in Fes is more of a practical nature where locals go to buy day to day produce as well as specialty items. Fes is famous for its extensive tanneries which are one of the most photographed sites in Africa making the souks in Fes the best places to buy leather products.

These daily souks have changed little over the centuries and for visitors who wish to truly experience Moroccan culture the best way is to step into the hustling and chaotic world of the Moroccan souk. For the large crowded souks of Fes and Marrakech it is often suggested that tourists hire a guide to help them find their way and assist them in haggling over prices with shop keepers.

The most important thing to remember in a Moroccan souk is to have fun! Enjoy browsing through the items and haggling with the shop keeper, it is a unique Moroccan experience that is sure to provide plenty of stories and one of a kind souvenirs to take back home.

 

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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! Google on call Travel Exploration at (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Travel Morocco’s Historic Kasbahs and Majestic Waterfalls

Morocco boasts beautiful cities with majestic mosques, imperial palaces, and hotels worthy of royalty, but outside these sprawling cities there is a different sort of majesty and beauty for travelers to discover.  Leaving the chaotic and busy city centers the Atlas Mountains and the sprawling Sahara desert give way to a different Morocco, one of camel caravans, ancient trade routes, and breath-taking natural wonders.

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Moroccan Kasbahs

Morocco is often referred to as the land “of a thousand Kasbahs”, the “way-stations” for the traveling merchants, tradesmen, and adventurers of ancient Morocco.  These fortified cities were safe havens for the weary traveler, a place to rest and to socialize with fellow travelers and inhabitants of the Kasbah towns.  Exotic goods, skills, languages, and beliefs were shared and exchanged at these Kasbahs attributing to Morocco’s rich and diverse history combining European, African, Christian, Muslim, as well as many other cultural and ethnic influences.  While the harsh dry climate of the Saharan desert takes a toll on these ancient cities the Moroccan government, as well as many private companies, are working to restore and ensure the survival of the Kasbahs.

kasbah

Ouarzazate – The Door of the Desert

Located just four hours from Marrakech, Ouarzazate is known as “The door of the desert” and is a main Berber town.  Once a major stop for travelers on the ancient camel caravan route through Morocco and much of Africa, Ouarzazate is a must-see for travelers wanting to experience Moroccan history as well as Moroccan natural wonders.  Ouarzazte boasts two Kasbahs, Ait Benhaddou and the Telouet Kasbah and the famous Cascades d’Ouzoud waterfalls.  This Berber town is a popular destination for travelers looking for a little adventure.

Ait Benhaddou

Ait Benhaddou is a fortified city located in Souss-Massa-Draa, not far from Ouarzazate, along the Ouarzazate River and is a wonderful example of the ancient Kasbahs found along the camel caravan routes throughout Morocco.  This enclosed city was home to many families all of whom had their own house within the city walls, although most of its inhabitants have since moved to more modern towns nearby a handful of Moroccans still live in this ancient town.

Since 1987 Ait Benhaddou has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its magnificent red walled buildings and impressive architecture has made Ait Benhaddou the site of many films including, most recently, the films Gladiator in 2000 and Alexander in 2004.  It is a city that’s rich with history, culture, and amazing architecture that is sure not to disappoint.

Taourirt Kasbah

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The Taourirt Kasbah, while not as old as some of the more ancient Kasbahs in Morocco, is considered one of the most important sights in Morocco and has a significant history.  In 1893 Sultan Moulay Houssan was stranded in the Sahara Desert and he and his army of 3,000 were taken care of by two brothers, Glaoui, of the Taourirt Kasbah.  In return for their hospitality the Sultan gave the brothers political power over the

High Atlas Mountains.

The brothers maintained and strengthened their position and when the French occupied Morocco 20 years later they managed to enter into an agreement with them and by the end of the French colonial rule the Glaoui brothers had almost as much political power as the Sultan.

kasbah-telouet

While the Saharan Desert has taken its toll on the Kasbah the huge structures make for an impressive view that are sure to awe visitors.  The reception room and main halls, the only interior rooms still open to the public, are adorned with high vaulted ceilings with grand pillars and huge ornately carved wooden doors.  The large scale luxury of the Taourirt Kasbah is surprising to find so far into the desert and certainly speaks to the power and influence that the Glaoui brothers once held.

Cascades d’Ouzoud

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Gorgeous cool blue water falls 100 meters through a lush green terrain into refreshing pools perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day.  The last thing you might expect to find in hot and deserty Morocco is waterfalls but the Cascades d’Ouzoud exist nonetheless and provide Morocco with just one more natural wonder for visitors to experience.

Located near Ouarzazte, through a tiny Berber village called Ouzoud, the cascades provide the perfect spot for locals and visitors alike to spend the day picnicking and swimming in the refreshing pools.  The cascades are a popular camping spot offering visitors the chance to sleep under the Moroccan stars next one of the most beautiful natural wonders in northern Africa.  At the summit of the falls there are several old mills, many of which are still in use, and, if you look carefully in among the trees you might even spot a troop of Barbary apes that live among these majestic falls.

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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! Google on call Travel Exploration at (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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