The Imam’s call brings me out of sleep.
Still wearing my djellebas
I walk through the gently billowing white curtains,
my feet falling softly on the already-warm mosaic floor.
A Berber woman sits in the courtyard, grinding nuts for Argan oil,
she smiles and bids me sit down and take her offering of bissara,
scooped from the bubbling pot into a pottery bowl that fits in my palms as if I’d molded it.
I smell the incense on her skin, the smell of the spices in the market behind me intoxicates me.
Sensory overload, I am in heaven …
©Cindy Taylor 2009
Djellebas = loose fitting robe
Argan oil = from kernels of the Argan tree, endemic to Morocco
Bissara = Moroccan split pea soup
I have this dream so often, the images in it are so clear to me that I sometimes wake stunned, expecting there to be sand on my feet. I know on days like these that Morocco will not leave my mind and that there is nothing for it but to take a tagine off my shelf and cook.
My lamb tagine recipe is made off by heart, a dead favourite in my home, I go into autopilot mode. It’s a slow, slow process of preparation. First the day-long marinade in yoghurt, then browning the meat in the spices and letting it soak in the juices. Finally into the tagine with the vegetables and herbs for another hour. The end result is so worthwhile, so close to the real thing that, again, I almost feel the sand beneath my feet …
A more accurate recipe (if you’ve never made this dish) can be found here: