Moroccan cuisine is one of the finest cuisines in the world and one of the reasons for this is its remarkable diversity of influences. This diversity of influence and East meets West sort of style inspires my own cooking at the chateau.

One can trace Morocco’s long history of colonizers and immigrants who have left their mark in more than one way on its cuisine.  The Berbers brought staple dishes like tagine and couscous.  The Arab invasion brought new spices, nuts and dried fruits, and the sweet and sour combinations. The Moors introduced olives, olive juice and citrus, while the Jews left a mark with their sophisticated preserving techniques including preserved lemons, pickles, etc.  The Ottoman Empire introduced kebabs. Finally, the French colonists created a culture of cafes, pastries, and even wine.

Like French cooking, and every good cuisine, the dishes vary with the market, the season, and the region.  And, basically, the people of the Arab Gulf nations were traditionally either nomadic (with a meat based diet) or coastal(with a seafood and merchant based diet).

The Moroccan Spice Cabinet is perhaps their greatest legacy for the chef, including ginger, cumin, salt, black pepper and tumeric is The South of Morocco is a source of pure saffron.  Ras l’hanoot means “the head of the shop” and is the basis for my Middle Eastern Spice mix. This spice is traditionally a mix of 20-40 different spices concocted by the shop owner or nearly every home chef.  Cardamom is used in cream desserts, while cloves are also important, as well as cinnamon.

Morocco was under Spanish and French influence for much of its recent history and France is now 10-20% Muslim.  So while I primarily enjoy cooking French classics, it’s no surprise my latest culinary inventions combine these international cultures and their traditions, ingredients and methods of cooking.

The French and Spanish quickly adopted the Muslim’s saffron, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, mustard, nutmeg, cloves allspice, aniseed, ginger, parsley, coriander and mint.  The Arab nobility hunted game birds including woodcock, partridge, pheasant, quail, and pigeon, often in the grand styles of hawking and falconry.  Meats are often cooked with apples, pears or quinces, which is a marriage made in heaven.

Below are our favorite recipes, but favorite full-featured web site devoted to Moroccan cooking is www.cookingwithalia.com