Essaouira - Cooking Class

Ess-Cook1We visited L’Association Féminine de Bienfaisance El Khir (A.F.B.K) for a cooking class. The AFBK is an association that assists vulnerable women in Essaouira. They can take classes in literacy, French and English, commercial cooking, introductory finance and computers, and others to assist in creating social autonomy and gaining employment. The Association also provides medical and psychological support, hygiene education and a legal service. They also offer a catering service where the students can build their confidence while also earning an income.

The AFBK also offer classes to tourists including cooking and pastry classes. We have opted to take the Tagine class (there was also a class in couscous). The Tagine class was hosted by Hanan with Janne (a volunteer from Germany) translating for us. Tagine is a Berber dish that is named after the earthenware vessel it is cooked in, and we would call it a stew, and is a very common offering throughout Morocco.

Ess-Cook2Ours is a simple dish consisting of Beef, Onion, Coriander, Potatoes, Tomato, Beans, Zucchini, Carrots and spices (turmeric, ginger, pepper & salt). It is constructed in stages so you can prepare the ingredients as you go, and takes about an hour to complete. The beef is placed in the bottom of the Tagine with finely diced red onion, drizzled in Argan oil and sprinkled with spice with finely chopped coriander then placed on the stove. You need to lift the lid every 5 minutes or so to ensure the meat isn’t sticking to the bottom. Carrots are peeled, then chopped into 0.5cm slices and placed in with the other ingredients. Thickly sliced Zuccchini and peeled potato were placed into a bowl of water to soak. Peel the tomato and dice. Cut the beans and boil in salted water. After around 20 minutes you may need to start adding water to the Tagine. Around 30 minutes in or once the meat is cooked place the sliced potatoes in a circle in the Targine (but not in the centre). Ten minutes later take the boiled beans and place them in the centre and cover with diced tomato. Five to ten minutes after that, layer the zucchini throughout the Tagine and spoon some of the sauce over everything and simmer. Some twenty minutes later you have a beautifully flavoured meal to enjoy with fresh bread.


I heartily recommend taking a cooking class as it gives you the opportunity to witness the art of the Tagine.

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Essouira - Guided Walks

Essaouira - Guided Walks


We organised a couple of walks with Ecotourisme et Randonees through their restaurant La Découverte (See Essouira) We had met two Danish women in Marrakech whom we encountered again in the Medina. Over dinner we organised to do the half day Sidi M’Bark with them, as well as a full day visit to a local Market and walk through the surrounding countryside for the day after. 

Ess-SidiMbarkWalk1 Ess-SidiMbarkWalk4

The Sidi M’Bark (220MAD per person) walk is located a 30 minute drive south from Essaouira. The weather is a beautiful 20 degrees and the wind is low presenting perfect conditions to enjoy the outdoors. It is gentle walk through Argan trees before heading down to the beach. The beach is lined with dunes, and the Atlantic is constantly rolling onto the patterned shore. At the end of the beach is a tranquil limestone cove with a small waterfall. The rocky walls of the cove contain small fossils of bivalves and other small aquatic creatures. A short distance uphill from the cove is a village where we had morning tea – Mint Tea and cake – with a Berber family before crossing the hills back to the car with an exquisite elevated view of the beach and terraced farmland. All up we were out for 3 hours, 2 of which were spent wandering the area. Our guide Ottmane provided excellent commentary on the area and a great person to spend time with (so much so, we took him out for coffee to spend more time talking with him).



Essaouira Sidi M;Bark Walk

The Market day walk (450 MAD) is available every Wednesday and starts 30 minutes from Essaouira at Ida Ougourd. Ottmane was our guide again, although Edouard (the owner) also accompanied the group providing commentary in French. The market serves the needs of the local community, travelling up to 10 kilometres to get their supplies. Most of the villagers do not own a car so they utilise a donkey, which are “parked” nearby. You can get most things you need here including fruits and vegetables, animal feed, homewares, clothing and electronics. We walked for 1 ½ kilometres through and around the market. After a glass of mint tea and an interesting conversation with a volunteer with a Moroccan NGO (, we drove to a nearby Argan plantation.

The Argan forest is rocky and sparsely forested but expansive and also includes fields of wheat and barley as well as the occasional Olive and Fig tree. Some of these areas are government owned and operated under licence, while other areas are owned privately. Othmane explained to us that the fruit is collected from the Argan tree only when it has fallen to the ground and that each tree produces 15-60 kilograms of fruit. To produce a litre of oil for food, around 35kg of fruit must be collected. For cosmetic use, it is significantly more.


 The walk takes us past a saint’s tomb (called a marabon), and to an area that was once used as a reservoir filled by a 25 kilometre aqueduct built in 1678 for a sugar refinery that only operated for 25 years.  The ruins of the aqueduct and refinery are still present and are excellent to walk through. Othmane kept us well informed as he guided us through the area to the homestead where we took lunch of Tagine, Mandarins, Cake. Othmane also provided us with a demonstration of how to make Mint Tea.


Argon Forest Walk

After the 5 ½ kilometre walk, we drove to Cooperative Maryama D’Huile D’Argan where we were shown the manufacture process of Argan Oil. It is a labour intensive process and today there around 20 women involved in various stages of manufacture.



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Essouira - Cooking Class

Marrakech, Morocco

Last stop Marrakech, 40 hours and 4 flights after Adelaide.


The Marrakech airport is very nice and surprisingly easily to get out of. Many airports I have been to create a labyrinth of passages and security checkpoints, but not Morocco, here it seems they want you out in their cities rather than taking part in some insane bureaucracy.

We met our guide Brahim from Morocco Key Travel in the airport foyer, my name clearly visible on the sign he held. Looking at all the other drivers, I was amazed at how clearly written all the signs were. This is not your average tourist destination, there seems to be a professionalism you don’t often see anywhere in the world.

Brahim made us feel at ease right away with his smile and gusto. He explained to us as we drove that Morocco was quite liberal for a Muslim country, very easy going. “We are Berber”, he explains and that encompasses everything you need to know. We drive through the new city with modern buildings that pay homage to historical architecture. In the new city, Brahim explains, you can get everything including alcohol (we make a note to try the local wine at some point).

We park the car and walk a few streets to the edge of the Medina. Cars don’t enter the Medina for the most part due to the narrow roads and alleys, it is better to walk, cycle or take a motor bike (some of which drive very fast through the crowded alleys). We hire a local with a trolley (50 Dirham) to take our bags and guide us to Samira’s Riad. We move quickly through the alleys, past stores and restaurants, hooking left and right seemingly at random. The air was warm when we entered but in the tight alleys it is cool due to the high walls.

Samira’s Riad welcomed us in and gave an option of rooms. We settled in and took mint tea with Brahim and our hosts. We were soon joined by Youssef, a friend of Brahim, who would take us through the Medina to the main square and teach us how to navigate the labyrinth. As we drank tea and smoked cigarettes, we talked. Youssef told us that Australians are considered nomads, as those they have met are always travelling somewhere, rarely ever to home. This is true of us as we told them of our year ahead. We also told them that our desire for the day was to see the sun set, eat a good meal and sleep to reset our body clocks after the 2 days of travel. Youssef offered for the Riad to prepare a traditional meal for us upon our return from the main square.

Youssef took us slowly back through the labyrinth and showed us the landmarks to make our way back. He also explained that the smaller alleys always dead end which makes it easy to find your way back. Within a few minutes we began to understand the ease at which you can get around, and what at first seemed daunting was in fact quite easy.

The main square was bustling in the late afternoon with a range of restaurants, greengrocers, potted plant vendors, and beyond that a swath of performers and artists plying their trade. The square was a cacophony of drums, horns, singing, and spruiking. I have been to a few markets in the world but this was my first bazaar and it was alive and daunting.

We found a café on the edge of the square with a rooftop terrace to watch the sun set behind La Koutoubia minaret.

Through dusk we made our way back to the Riad for dinner. The dinner was grand, starting with a lentil soup and eggplant salad, followed by Citrus Chicken Targine with Green Olives, finished by fruit salad. The food was simple but tasted incredible. Cumin and Turmeric subtly mixed with the natural flavours of the other ingredients.


The following morning we arose, had a breakfast of fresh breads, eggs, yoghurt, and crepes, with coffee before heading out for a walk through one of the nearby parks. That afternoon we caught the Supratours bus to Essaouira where we are staying for the next week.

Other Experiences in Morocco:
Marrakech to Imil
The Route of a Thousand Kasbahs
A Walk in the Dades Gorge
A Night at Erg Chebbi, the Sahara
The Middle Atlas


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