Tajine class …and a surprise visit

I have taken a few cooking classes while traveling. My son and I made pasta with anchovies in an Italian home in Sicily, and I joined a group making a variety of dishes in an industrial sized kitchen in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I’m not much of a cook, but when I’m well supervised, when someone who knows what they’re doing guides me through the process, I can create a delicious masterpiece. As a gift, my son gave me an online cooking class of my choice through AirBnB. Last week, I learned to make vegetable tajine with a chef and his Moroccan family.

The original class, Cooking Moroccan Tajine step by step with family, was listed with chicken tajine, but I don’t eat meat. I emailed and asked about making it with fish, however I ended up just doing a vegetarian version. The ingredient list was posted, so I headed down to a natural foods supermarket in the city the day before to stock up for the event. I won’t repeat the recipe here; it’s theirs. But the ingredients were impressive. The sculptural basket was made by my friend, Ken Nelson.

We were on Zoom and I was the only one in the class, so we were able to have a more personal discussion. In-person classes are being held now that some international tourists are venturing out these days, but no one joined our session.

Brahim, my chef, talked through the process and cooked with me in his home kitchen. His mother helped cut up the veggies. She didn’t face the camera, and as is common in Muslim countries, her head was covered. I would have liked to share a smile with her. A video on the site showed his wife conducting the class in French, but perhaps she only does the French-speaking sessions; I didn’t meet her. At some point, two little girls stepped into view, daughters of the chef, and one answered my hello with a wave.

Most of the time was spent chopping up vegetables. I used my favorite veggie knife, purchased from a stall in Tsukiji, the seafood and kitchen store neighborhood in Tokyo. What a mess I made! A few times, I decided I needed larger bowls and then a larger pot since I don’t have a traditional tajine pot. The floor was littered with chopped onion and parsley after I made those adjustments. Oh well, I would clean up later, I thought, as the pieces bounced down around me.

The chef suggested I add zucchini or cauliflower, but I didn’t get the word until I had already gone shopping, so I steamed some frozen broccoli and cauliflower pieces to add some interest. If I try this again on my own, zucchini or summer squash would be my choice.

These screenshots are not very sharp, but they will give you the idea. Brahim’s craftsmanship and his love for the ingredients and his creations were evident.

Traditional tajine
Roasting sweet peppers for the salad
Chef at work
Testing to see if done
Eating tajine with bread and fingers

I could see the advantage of the tajine cooker. Diced vegetables were in the bottom, cooking in water, while cut pieces of potato and carrot, and whatever protein, was arranged on top, getting steamed. The dish could then be served without mixing the ingredients, making for an attractive presentation. I started with a medium saucepan and had enough food for three or four people. Soon I needed to move it all to a larger pot, so everything was mixed more than was optimal. Oops! And once mixed, everything turned yellow from a generous helping of turmeric (including my fingers)! The result, although not beautiful, was flavorful and redolent with spices.

My finished dishes: Vegetable tajine and Moroccan salad

…and a surprise visit:

Earlier this week, after a busy morning, as I sat down after lunch to read and relax, I checked email and my blog on my phone. I don’t check often during the day. I couldn’t have chosen a luckier moment… the Travel Architect and Husband, whose blog and podcast I follow, would be driving into my town in just a few minutes for a gas stop while exploring Colorado! We met at the Visitor Center and I took them for a walk around our historic downtown, chatting along the way, a delightful visit.

Do check out The Travel Architect podcast and blog. Besides getting to know these traveling teachers, I enjoy their “Travel Quiz” and travel stories.

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Published by rkrontheroad

Writer, photographer, traveler

43 thoughts on “Tajine class …and a surprise visit

  1. Food and cooking tours are amazing in different countries. I like the cooking lessons from a chef and glad you managed to meet up with a fellow blogger. Happy Saturday Ruth. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Ruth, Thanks for your posts. When I read this from my Brisbane (Australia) apartment, I got to virtually travel to Colorado and then skip over to the Middle East while I was imaging both kitchens going at once. What a lovely experience! It’s winter here and I’ve just soaked some chickpeas so you’ve inspired me to find a tagine recipe and cook something warming and healthy. Hope you have a lovely day over yonder. xx Lyn (ex Prague)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lyn, nice to hear from you! Thanks for reading and commenting. I like your description of the two kitchens. Enjoy your winter… not as severe as we get here in the Colorado mountains, but a warm dish sounds good.


  3. Yum! Tajine is delicious and nutritious, as it provides your proteins, carbs, and veggie needs in one dish! I’ve only had it in restaurants while traveling Morocco, so to prepare it at home sounds intimidating…but it looks to be a fun activity, and I’m sure yours turned out great!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love tajine! That is such a lovely gift from your son. I did a couple of cooking classes on my travels, the one in China stands out. I try to recreate some of my favorite Chinese dishes every now and than, but don’t find them as good due to a lack of key ingredients.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A cooking class in China would be great. I’m never good at making these dishes on my own, but I’ll try the tajine and see how it comes out. There were already a few things I didn’t have – the chef said not to use powdered coriander if I couldn’t find fresh. It won’t be the same as going to Morocco! Thanks, Leighton.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s an interesting idea for a gift – I’ve not come across anything quite like that. And how great that you checked your emails just in time to be able to make that meet-up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My son and I have often given gifts of something to do – concert tickets, I once gave him a dogsled trek. And how fun to meet blogger friends! Perhaps I will get back to London some day and say hello.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I had no idea that you could even take an online cooking class through AirBnB. What a fabulous gift idea. I’m a vegetarian as well, so I’m happy to hear that they were able to alter the recipe to make a vegetarian version.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We used to gift each other things to do more often, but I’m hesitant to go to a concert these days, still being careful. This was a fun experience, and yes, they were quite willing to do a veggie version.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your meal looks delicious! I have been cooking middle eastern food for many years but never had a tagine. Remember eating a sublime couscous dish with chicken and cinnamon in a tiny restaurant in Lisbon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh nice, we (meaning more my husband 😉) would love to make a tajine. We have looked many times at tajine pots … you might have just inspired us to try this dish! And how delightful to meet fellow bloggers (and to show them around your home town).
    Thanks for the inspiration with the tajine Ruth … my husband’s birthday is coming up and I think I just know what to get him!

    Liked by 1 person

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