"The storks create the perfect harmony at rooftop level" - Chantal
" the city's hotshot riad converter." - The Sunday Times
"Service is just the start. Every detail counts" - The Independent
"The intricate attention to detail is stunning" - The Evening Standard
"Dar Les Cigognes is a haven removed from the chaos, noise, and hustle of the city" - 50 Unforgettable Things to do Before you Die
"A charming place in a beautiful city." - Jorge, Madrid
"This is a beautiful and wonderful place to stay." - Andi, UK
"We have magical memories to take home." - Richmond & Sue, UK
"Dar Les Cigognes is a small jewel highlighting the multiple facets of Moorish art" - Michelin Guide
"Dar Les Cigognes with great traditional home cooking." - Waitrose kitchen
"Dar Les Cigognes is a luxurious little jewel" - Maroc, la tradition du luxe
"Part careful restoration, part Saharan fantasy is wonderfully well-located" - Cadogan Guide
"A delightful and well-run medina riad hotel" - Privat Dining
"Very kind and helpful staff." - Lesley & John
"Beautiful place!" - Rene
"One can only be blown away by the sumptuous tadelakt and ornate carved plaster" - Luxury Morocco
"Thank you for making our time in this city so memorable." - Rebecca & William
"Secret Celebrity Hideaways" - Travel + Leisure
"Unique mix of traditions and modernity" - Elle
"Excellent taste and florid imagination have brought this beautiful hotel to life" - Architecture du Maroc
"On the rooftop is a view across to the Atlas" - Daily Express
"We couldn't have chosen a better spot to spend the nights." - Annette & Marianne, NL
"The wonderful hotel and staff made our stay in Marrakech complete." - Milay
"A mustn't miss! " - Abenteuer und reisen
"We have loved every minute of our time in Marrakech." - Danielle & David
"Luxurious atmosphere, unique charm and local authenticity." - BOARDING.DK
"A very lovely and enchanting Riad." - Clare & Michael
"The food was amazing and the hamman a real experience!" - Caroline & Jan, UK
"A charming riad that is a convenient and quiet oasis from which to explore the city" - House and Garden.
"This is like a dream come true, it is the most wonderful place I have stayed in and I have traveled the world" - Yvonne and Chris
"Wonderful, peaceful experience, loved every minute of it." - Julia & Rob
"This was the best place to be." - Jan & Jolanda
"A perfect stay in a perfect riad." - John & Anna, UK
"Paradise for aficionados" - Smokers Club
"A lovely, laid-back place." - Richard
"We felt safe, comfortable and very happy in your wonderful hotel." - Charles & Christine, UK
"Anyone interested in Morocco will find it difficult to drag themselves away" - The Sunday Telegraph
"The luxury hotel is the ideal starting point for exploring Marrakech." - escapio, Einzigartige Hotels
"The design is so chic and cozy at the same time" - Elle
"The Dar Les Cigognes pampers its guests with plenty of rest." - Chili
"Renovated by legendary French architect Charles Boccara." - BAZAAR
"The entry never indicates to the richness of the interior of Dar Les Cigognes." - Marrakech Express
"with its design it reflects the traditional Morocco" - Urlaub Tipp
"Dar Les Cigognes an oasis of luxury and calm." - Time out Marocco
"The heart of the ancient medina is where to stay in Marrakech and Dar Les Cigognes is a gorgeous refuge" - Red
"This is the best place to be." - Jan & Jolanda, NL
"This elegant boutique hotel is an oasis of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle." - UrlaubTipp
"Dar Les Cigognes is very relaxing and calm after the hectic, vibrant city outside it's walls." - Karl
"A true idyll amongst the chaos" - Richard & Louise
"Stylish living- Dar Les Cigognes." - URLAUB TIPP
"Oriental Pearl- Dar Les Cigognes" - freundin.de
"A peaceful ambience that is immediately apparent" - Hedonist's Guide
"A warm welcome with great service" - Hotels of Charm-Morocco
"Who would believe that behind that door in such a hectic street lies such a wonderfully calm and beautiful place." - Helen & Neil, UK
"Dar Les Cigognes quaint old-town palace in Marrakech." - Escapio
"One of the oldest and most elegant Riad hotels in Marrakech." - reisemagazin.com
"Fab place - throughly enjoyed it!" - Kellie, Ana & Max
"You will find the beauty of a riad's private world." - Time Out
"Unusually stunning -. Business Traveler
"An oasis of calm and elegance in the heart of the medina." - Franz, London
"Silence and beauty surrounds the guest." - Der Tagesspiegel
"We will return ""Inch Allah"" soon." - Francine, LA
"Today this small oasis is considered as one of the most beautiful hotels in the world." - In
"After a minute I'd forgotten my cares." - Catherine
"This award-winning true boutique Hotel ensuring private and individual experiences in Marrakech." - International Inns, Resort&Spas
"The jewel from 1001 nights" - Reise aktuell
"Escape on a magic carpet to Marrakech and escape to Marrakech's finest new hotel" - Western Daily Press
"Marrakech is a treasure trove of boutique hotels and romantic riads, but one of the best by far is Dar Les Cigognes" - You and Your Wedding
"A stylish sanctuary of peace and calm." - Red
Traditional Folk Tales of Marrakech
The folklore tradition is strong in Morocco, particularly in Marrakech. In the main square of the medina, Jemaa El Fna, as the sun sets youâll find many knots of people circled around an animated storyteller.
One of the great themes of Orientalist painting was the storyteller
Storytelling captures the imagination, preserving tradition, and connecting people to their cultural past.
At one time these rings of rapt listeners â called a halqa â could be found in any village center, as storytellers were ubiquitous. Today the tradition has dwindled, but in Jemaa El Fna it still thrives. In 2001, UNESCO made The Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity specifically to protect the performance traditions of Jemaa El Fna.
When you come to visit, make sure to visit the square at night, when it is alive with people and music and lights. Stop at a halqa. Breath deep the smoky fragrance of the food stalls; listen, for a moment, to the whiney pipe of a snake charmer nearby. Then watch an ancient story unfold before your eyes.
For now, we will give you a small taste of the great oral tradition of Morocco with this folktale, The Sherif and the Saint.
Once upon a time, there was a young sherif, the ruler of Marrakech, who was quite full of himself and loved to wager. One day he was talking with his friend, the saint Sidi Ali ben Hamdusa, and boasting of his incredible endurance. The saint told him, âYour boasts are nothing. My faith in God gives me strength.â The young sherif bet him a hundred gold pieces that he could not sit at the top of a tower on the coldest night of winter, staying awake all night with no blankets and not fire to warm him. The saint took his wager and waited for the iciest night of the year, then sat atop the tallest tower in Marrakech with no blankets and no fire. All night he sat awake, wrestling with Jnun and the bitter, whipping winds of winter. Finally dawn broke over the horizon and Sidi Ali gratefully prostrated himself before the eastern sun in prayer, saying the Tzalat-l’Fajr (the morning office).
Later that day the arrogant sherif invited him to tea, asking him, âWell, did you do it?â
“Yes, Bism’ullah,” said the saint mildly.
âLast night? On the coldest night of winter? With no blanket, and no fire to warm your body?â
“No extra djellabas, no rugs to kneel on, nothing?”
“May God silence me forever if I lie! I had nothing, save my faith in Him.”
“Ah,” said the Sherif, “and you stayed there all night long?”
“Yes, indeed, I stayed until I saw dawn break and I said the morning office as a good man should, the moment I saw the sun rise.”
“Aha!” the Sherif crowed, calling his friends to hear his triumph, “then you forfeit the wager, and I keep my thousand gold pieces â for since you saw the sun, you had its fire to warm you in your vigil.”
Now the old saint went away saddened, and meditated for several days. At last, he decided one day to give a private feast for the young sherif and all his friends. Along they came, with the sherif in their midst very full of wit and jokes, and at the hour of noon they were received at the Sidi’s house and invited to sit on his finest rugs and richest silken pillows. The saint settled them down and went off the check the meal. An hour passed. The guests, a little perturbed, made polite conversation; meanwhile their host hurried in and out with apologies, trays of fruit and sweetmeats (just enough to whet the appetite) and more apologies â and more apologies yet! Another hour. The guests sang songs and told tales to while away the time. Their host muttered excuses for his half-witted servants, and said the kitchen must be infested with Jnun. At last the sherif leaped to his feet. “What ails your kitchen,” he exclaimed, “that the slaves cannot even cook couscous? Let us go and see for ourselves.”
So the entire company, headed by the sherif and Sidi Ali, rose and trooped into the kitchen. There they found a curious sight! There was the couscous, there was the meat, there was the chicken and succulent fish and a pie of spinach and sharp cheese . . . all raw, in the cooking-pots, sitting in the hot sun. “What trick is this!” cried the sherif. “Are you trying to starve us to death?”
But the old saint shook with laughter. “Remember your wager, O Lord Sherif?” he inquired. “How you said my old bones were warmed by the fire of the sun? Well, you are wiser than I, and so here is your dinner. For six hours now, it has been cooking in the fire of the sun.” And while the young sherif squirmed with embarrassment (and all his friends hid their smiles) Sidi Ali picked up a dish and held it out. “Eat!” he said mildly.
The sherif hid his shame behind his hands. “God be praised for your wisdom, O my father Sidi Ali ben Hamdusa,” he said. “Subhan Allah! I have learned my lesson. Tomorrow the wager will be paid twice over.”
“You begin to learn,” said Sidi Ali, bowing. He drew back a curtain, and disclosed an array of dishes filled with the most exquisite foods, perfectly prepared and steaming hot. “And now, barak’alluhu fik ajarak allah, here is our true dinner. Enjoy it, enjoy it, my guest!”
Great New Book on Marrakech Riads
Sunset view onto Royal Palace ramparts from the roof gardens of Dar Les Cigognes
For years, Moroccan style, and more specifically Marrakech style, has become one of the global hot design trends in interiors and in architecture. Â Truthfully, this is nothing new. Â Just look at the gorgeous buildings built during the golden age of the Moorish Empire, especially those built by the Marrakech dynasties, the Almohads and Almoravids, who were responsible for some of the most glorious examples of Moorish architecture, or any architecture, in the world: Sevilla’s Giralda, Marrakech’s Koutoubia, and Rabat’s Hassan II tower are perfect examples. Â So too, what followed, with the Alhambra being a most unforgettable example.
About 15 years ago, this quintessential Moroccan style began to retake its place in the collective imagination as an initially small group of people, mostly non-Moroccan, began to buy and renovate the glorious old houses, the riads, of Marrakech. Â The two riads that make up the Sanssouci Collection were amongst the first to open their doors, Riad Kaiss, restored by hotel and interior designer Christian Ferre, opened in 2000, and Dar Les Cigognes, restored by legendary architect Charles Boccara. opened in 2001. Â These two riads and a handful of other “first-movers” opened the floodgates to what has now become a city of over 1,000 riad guesthouses…and has made of the “RIAD” a name with global meaning as much as the “Ryokan” is to traditional Japanese architecture.
Elan Fleisher, photographer, has just published a book on this phenomenon, highlighting the riads that have defined and redefined Moorish style more than any others. Â The Riads of MarrakechÂ is lavishly photographed, and Elan’s eye for beauty is greatly in evidence. The book contains some of the most gorgeous photography of iconic Moroccan interiors ever shot. Featuring just 12 of Marrakech’s riads, it is very much about the most beautiful places in this extraordinary city. Â With a forward by the Minister of Tourism, this book lays down a marker for Moroccan style. It shows clearly why the riads, and these in particular, were not only the birthplace of Marrakech’s hip status, but also the origin of the city’s ongoing appeal as a source of design inspiration. We are doubly pleased that both Sanssouci Collection riads, two of the longest-running guesthouses in the ochre city, Dar Les Cigognes and Riad Kaiss, were selected to be amongst this august group. Take a look at the book, and go out and buy a copy.
Ouarqa, pronounced “warka” is an extemely thin pastry, much thinner than phyllo. It is also pliable, and strong, which lends it to the many delicious fillings that go into it.
This is our recipe for making ouarqa using a paintbrush and non-stick pan.
1 cup flour, sifted
1 teaspoon of salt
Vegetable oil to keep leaves from sticking
1 Âœ cups of very cold water to achieve a thin batter
Mix the batter well until there are no lumps, bubbles, and you have a uniform, thin batter which is a bit like buttermilk in consistency.
Heat your non-stick pan over a pot of the same size which is filled with gently boiling water.
When the pan is hot, taking your paint brush, paint very quickly around the outer rim then down into the pan, dipping again two or so times to quickly cover the entire pan. Patch or fill any holes delicately with brush or fingers.
Cook about 1 minute or less until you can peel away the edges. Gently peel from pan, lay on a sheet of plastic wrap and paint very lightly with oil. Continue with the next one, laying each on top of one another, keeping them covered as you go, and always oiling between the layers. Makes about 12 leaves.
Making merguez sausages in Marrakech with Sanssouci
Merguez are the delicious sausages of the Maghreb. Â In Morocco the flavours and tastes of these delicious little links are different from the intensely spicy Tunisian variety. Â Almost exclusively made with beef, but sometimes also with turkey, Moroccan merguez are a treat.
Delicious merguez sausages at the Sanssouci Cooking School in Marrakech
500 g twice ground beef, ideally jarret but also chuck or other fatty piece
1â2 to 1 cup of water
1 tsp freshly ground white pepper 1â2 tsp of salt
Pinch of saltpetre (optional)
500 g twice ground beef, ideally jarret but also chuck or other fatty piece
1â2 to 1 cup of water
1 tsp freshly ground white pepper 1 tsp of salt
2 tsps hot paprika
500 g of minced turkey breast, twice ground
1 medium onion, chopped fine and ground withÂ the meat
1 tbsp of blended fresh parsley and coriander,Â minced very fine
1â2 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of powdered ginger
1â2 tsp of sweet paprika
1â2 tsp of hot paprika
1 tsp of salt
1â2 tsp of ground white pepper
In all cases, grind the meat thoroughly, passing it through the grinder twice. Sprinkle over the herbs and spices and work in gently. Add water, a little at a time, as you are kneading, until you obtain a very smooth, pliable paste, similar to the consistency and softness of toothpaste. While you are doing this soak the intestines in a bowl of water to remove any salt they have been cured in and to ensure they are fully supple.
Load your sausage stuffing machine according to its instructions. A plastic bag wrapped over the tamper, will help tighten the seal in the chamber and prevent leaks. Gently untangle the intestine and blow intoÂ one end to inflate it slightly and make it easier to slip on to the sausage nozzle. Slide a metre or so of intestine on to the nozzle for this quantity of sausage and tie off the cut end with a triple knot. Very gently turn the crank with your right hand whilst guiding and resisting the sausage and casing (you need to provide some friction for the casing to ensure it fills the sausage evenly). Proceed gently until the filling has fully dispensed or you have reached the end of your sausage casing. Tie off the end.
Gently work the length of the sausage to ensure the filling is evenly distributed. Determine the desired length of each link, then twist a few times to create a kink in the sausage. Bend back the long strand to the same kink and then fold the length over and through, tying them together, then repeat in the other direction. When you are repeating, by threading one length over the other you will create kinks in both, thus creating a collection of four woven lengths. Repeat by starting a new section, in this way creating groups of four until you have used up the entire strand.
To cook either grill on the fire or fry in a pan with a small quantity of oil, turning in either case to ensure even cooking. Cooking for 10 to 15 minutes, until cooked through. 500 g of meat as above will make about 2 dozen sausages depending on the length of each.
Moroccan Saffron is Exquisite
Beautiful field of saffron crocus just before the harvest
Saffron is an extremely important and prized spice within Moroccan culture. Itâs used primarily as a spice with a complex and slightly sweet flavor, and imparts the food it spices with a brilliant yellow color. Itâs also used in dyes, tea, perfumes, and medicines. Studies suggest that it could help to suppress cancer, have antioxidant-like properties, and may even help with depression.
The red threads you see when you buy saffron are in fact the stigmas of a purple flower, the saffron crocus. The flowers must be gathered by hand and the stigmas must be separated from the flower by hand. One kilogram of saffron requires the harvest of 110,000â170,000 flowers; forty hours of labor are required to pick 150,000 flowers. Knowing this, it is easy to see why saffron is by far the most expensive spice in the world.
A handful of Moroccan saffron crocus flowers
In Morocco, most saffron is grown in Taliouine village, in the Souktana cooperative. The flowers bloom in October and early November, and the crop is cultivated in traditional ways, with natural fertilizers and manual plowing. Itâs best to buy saffron in the whole stigma, rather than the powder, because saffron is often fraudulent. The strands should be long and thin with a dark red color. The smell should be strong, and the strands should stain your finger when you pinch them.
Some key facts: Morocco is the world’s 4th largest producer of Saffron, after Iran, India, and Greece. Â Morocco produces just 3,000 kg of saffron per year. Â That small amount, however, is enough to employ 1,285 farmers and support the village of Taliouine and its 12,000 inhabitants. Today, Moroccans Saffron has achieved status as a Product Designation of Origin for its unique qualities, which helps farmers achieve a fair price for it.
Harvesting the saffron threads by hand in Morocco
Once you have the prized spice in hand, join our cooking classes to learn all the delicious ways you can use it!
Argan Oil is Moroccan Gold
Organic argan oil is the base of our spa products at Sanssouci Collection
Argan oil is an essential factor in the Moroccan health and beauty regime, and in the Western world it has gained lots of celebrity endorsements under the name âMoroccan oil.â But where does it come from? How is it made? What makes it so great? Weâll look deeper at this wondrous âliquid goldâ to figure out the story behind the hype.
Where does it come from?
Argan oil is made from the nut of the argan tree, which grows exclusively in Morocco, primarily in the southwestern part of the country between Essaoira and Taroudant. The tree once grew all over North Africa, but itâs now endangered and protected by UNESCO, making argan oil one of the rarest oils in the world. The region in which the tree grows is a vast biosphere reserve. The Berber communities that harvest the oil are committed to preserving and sustaining the argan forest, initiating an ecosystem reforestation project and working with the Moroccan Water and Forests Authorities to ensure the trees continue to thrive.
Traditional craft making for this important oil and way of life
How is it made?
Traditionally, undigested argan pits were collected from the waste of goats that would climb the trees to eat their fruit. Today, the process is a bit less messy: the pits are extracted from the fleshy fruit my machines instead. But to make the oil, the pit must be cracked open to reveal the kernels inside. This hasnât been successfully mechanized, so Berber woman crack them open by hand, one at a time. The kernals are then roasted, ground, and pressed to finally reveal the smooth, golden oil. Most argan oil is produced by womenâs cooperatives under fair-trade agreements that ensure they are paid fair wages and have good working conditions. This is a significant advantage as it allows them to support themselves and their families and provides a certain amount of independence in a traditionally male-dominated society.
What makes it so great?
Argan oil has three uses: for skin, for hair, and to eat. As a food, in Morocco it is traditionally used as a dip for bread or a drizzle on couscous or in salads. It has a slightly nutty flavor and itâs very healthy: it helps prevent heart disease, obesity, and possibly even cancer. As a cosmetic, itâs extremely rich in vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and many other nutrients. Itâs great for soothing dry or irritated skin, and it helps regulate sebum to even out oily skin. It brightens skin and helps to get rid of scars. It does the same for hair, providing deep moisture, smoothing frizz, and giving volume to thin hair.
Argan oil is a treasure of Morocco, rare and highly prized. But with all its benefits, it easily lives up to the nickname âMoroccan gold.â Come to Morocco yourself to experience an argan oil massage in our beautiful hammam, and then take a trip to the souk to buy a bottle of the lovely golden oil, made only in Morocco.
Stunningly Beautiful Wedding Cakes
Have you ever seen a more gorgeous wedding cake?
I am always amazed when someone you know for a while reveals a hidden talent. Â All the more so when it is someone you see week after week and the talent proves to be completely awe-inspiring. Â Thus it was when I saw that friend and fellow Marrakech resident and riad owner Emma Joystonbechal is a serious baker. Â And by serious, I mean really serious. Â The cakes that are pictures are some of her many confections, wrought with such fantasy and professionalism it is hard to imagine that they could even be made.
She makes these incredible wedding and special occasion cakes on a fully bespoke basis, and requires a month of advance notice to ensure she has access to all of the ingredients, many of which are brought in from London. Â The cakes are true works of art as you can see.
Incredibly creative cake design
I asked her for some of her baking tips and she provided these helpful thoughts: she uses a slightly wetter batter than is called for so that the cakes have more lift to them, and to get a lighter consistency without upping the water content, she uses a few spoonfuls of hot water. Â When making individual cupcakes or fairy cakes, she suggests using an ice cream scoop, which she says is the ideal quantity for the papers. Â For cakes that you plan to ice, she suggests wrapping strips of soaked towels or clothes around the outside of the cake tin, which will ensure a moister cake, but more importantly ensure even baking–the cake will not peak in the middle, and all parts will rise together and not crack. Â Lastly, as an aside she says that you must whisk your meringue over a bain-marie for best results.
These cakes are true works of art
You can contact Emma about her incredible confections by writing to her at Riad ZamZam,email@example.com
Yotam Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Feasts
Ottolenghi filmed his latest show with Dar Les Cigognes and Riad Kaiss
We were very delighted to be involved in the wonderful new series from London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi, one of the most interesting and innovative chefs working with Mediterranean food today. Â Ottolenghi presides over a growing collection of London eateries, all known for their fresh and clean style.
Ottolenghi has already authored a number of cookbooks. Â Jerusalem, the latest, has met with great critical acclaim. Â Previous books, Plenty and Ottolenghi, the Cookbook are both characterised by their emphasis on quality ingredients and preparation without fuss, that plays to the best strengths of fresh, seasonal food.
It was a great honour to have Yotam shoot segments of his show at both Dar Les Cigognes and at Riad Kaiss, but to also use our team as sources of inspiration. Â He has featured two of the recipes he prepared on his show on his own website:
It was a wonderful show, airing on Channel More 4 last night at 9 pm, but now available on the channel 4 website as catch-up TV for UK residents. Â The show used Marrakech as a base and explored the delicious and varied food on offer in town, up in the mountains, and all the way out to the coast in Essaouira. Â What was refreshing about the show was that it took an off-the-beaten track approach to the food–so the recipes and stories were new and refreshing, and his recipes are too.
Dar Les Cigognes has been at the forefront of presenting authentic Moroccan cuisine, fresh, seasonal, as it is, since we opened our doors in 2001. Â Voted most “gourmet” riad by the Telegraph and awarded “Best Moroccan Cooking School” last year, Dar Les Cigognes has always been all about Moroccan food. Â Since joining the Sanssouci Collection, Riad Kaiss has continued in the same vein. Â We were delighted to have been able to contribute to and participate in Yotam’s creative approach to Moroccan cuisine. Â In his own words it was said best, “Moroccan cuisine is about bringing people together.” Â We can think of no better endorsement for the culture and country. Â Thank you Yotam for spreading the word about this amazing place.
Balboula (Barley) Couscous of 7 Vegetables
Balboula (Couscous) of Seven Vegetables
Balboula is the original Berber version of couscous.Â Made from cracked barley, it is a delicious dish which is as good as it is hard to find on a restaurant menu.Â In a world where we are concerned with eating so many carbohydrates, and regular couscous is just like pasta in this regard, balboula offers a healthy alternativeâŠit also happens to have more flavourâa slightly nutty flavour which lends itself to great variation as described below.
Balboula differs from regular couscous in that it is steamed three times instead of two.
For the couscous
500 g balboula, cracked barley for couscous1 teaspoon of salt
2-3 tbps of butter for after the second steaming2 tablespoons of olive oil1 cup of cold water, about, to start, plus more for each steaming
Vegetables and broth
2 medium yellow onions2 teaspoons of turmeric
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon of concentrated tomato paste4 carrots1 half head of cabbage
200 g courgettes, about 6 small ones
250 g of pumpkin, a piece about the size of a hand
2 small aubergines
1 cup of dried fava beans
1. Start by preparing your ingredients for cooking.Â Soak the dried fava (broad) beans in water for several hours to rehydrate.Â Peel the onions, cut them in half from top to bottom (root end), then laying the flat on a board, cut them into thin âmoon-shapedâ slices.Â Chop the tomatoes into quarters from top to bottom.Â Peel the carrots by scraping them with the flat of a knife.Â Peel and trim the ends off of the turnips.
2. Prepare the couscous for its first steaming.Â Spread the balboula out in a large, shallow dish, add the salt, the olive oil, stirring each time to blend, then pour in the water.Â The amount of water should be feltâit should be only as much as the balboula can absorb without leaving any excess water.Â Blend well with your hands to separate the grains, and set aside to swell.
Balboula Couscous of 7 Vegetables at Dar Les Cigognes
3. Prepare the vegetables for the final dish.Â Fill a large bowl with water and set aside.Â Place each vegetable once prepared in this water.Â Scrape the carrots to peel them, then half lengthwise.Â Cut or pop out the hard inner core of the carrot.Â Split the courgettes lengthwise.Â Cut a small piece out of the skin side for decoration, at even intervals along the back of the courgette.Â Peel, top and tail the turnips and then quarter lengthwise.Â Cut the Âœ cabbage into 4 wedges.Â Slice the pumpkin into large chunks, about the size of walnuts, leaving the skin on.Â Scrape the stem end of the aubergines to remove any spines and fuzze and trim the stems of any brown spots.Â Cut up through the length of the aubergines in quarters, taking a piece of the stem with each cut.
5. Prepare the couscous.Â Start by wrapping the bottom of the couscoussier with folds of tin foil around the edges to help create a tighter seal between top and bottom (this prevents the steam from escaping).Â Pour the resting balboula into the top half of the couscoussier and gently fit it into the bottom with the steaming broth.Â Steam, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Pour out the balboula into the large flat dish, add a cup of cold water, poured over your hands, as you fork your fingers through the balboula to break it up and prevent it from clumping.
Add the remaining vegetables that have been soaking in the water, as well as the fava beans to the broth, and add water to the broth to just cover the new additions.
Return the balboula to the top of the couscoussier for its second steaming and fix the top on the bottom above the broth.Â Steam thus for 20 minutes.Â Again pour out the balboula into the large flat dish.Â Add the pat of butter and stir to melt.Â Again add cold water and mix with your fingers to prevent clumping.
Add the heaping tablespoon of concentrated tomato paste to the broth and stir in gently to mix.Â Add water to keep the level in the liquid now to half the height of the vegetables.
Return the balboula to the top of the couscoussier for its third and final steaming.Â After 20 minutes it is ready.
6. Serve.Â Pour out the balboula into the dish you would like to serve it in, mounding it up like a mountain then hollowing out the centre like a volcano.Â Place the vegetables in an ordered way inside and around the mound, taking care to lay them out in an attractive way.Â Pour over a good amount of the sauce.Â Reserve the remaining sauce and serve in a bowl for those who wish to eat more.Â Serve it forth.Â Serves 8 as a main course.
The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill loved Morocco and called Marrakech âthe Paris of the Sahara.âÂ In 1936 he wrote an article for the Daily Mail headlined âI was astonished by Morocco,â in which he rhapsodized, “I am captivated by Marrakech. Â Here in these spacious palm groves the traveller can contemplate the stately snow-clad panorama of the Atlas Mountains.
Marrakech medina and Koutoubia by Winston Churchill
The sun is brilliant but not scorching; the air crisp, bracing but without being chilly; the days bright, the nights cool and fresh.” During his visits he often stayed in the luxurious La Mamounia, and was inspired to paint quite a few scenes from the city.
During World War II, after the Casablanca conference, Churchill talked President Roosevelt into visiting Marrakech with him, saying, “You cannot come all this way to North Africa without seeing Marrakech. Let us spend two days there. I must be with you when you see the sun set on the Atlas Mountains.” Â While here, the two great men stayed in the Villa Taylor; the legend goes that the owner, Mrs. Taylor, was such a stalwart Republican that she sold the villa after the war because she couldnât bear the thought that a Democratic president had slept in her bed.
Churchill insisted they admire the view from the tower of the villa, so two of Rooseveltâs staffers carried the crippled president up the winding stairs to join the prime minister.
Marrakech medina with the Atlas Mountains in the background
Lounging on the roof Roosevelt said he felt like a sultan. Churchillâs doctor, who was there with them, wrote of the evening in his diary: “As we stood gazing at the purple hills, where the light was changing every minute, the PM murmured, ‘it’s the most lovely spot in the world’.”
This trip was the one and only time during World War II that Churchill â an avid painter â took up his brushes: to paint the view from the villa that he had shared with Roosevelt that night.
Churchills love affair with Marrakech seen through his paintings
Churchillâs granddaughter, Celia Sandys, writes about her travels in her grandfatherâs footsteps in her book Chasing Churchill, from which most of the information in this post was gleaned.