So, do you love entertaining? Cooking your friends a lavish meal, bringing satiety and satisfaction to them all through the love you put in your food? Have you ever attempted a Moroccan themed dinner party? Both beautiful aesthetically and delicious, the Moroccan dinner party is the ideal way to impress your friends with the vibrancy of the décor and the warmth and comfort of Moroccan flavours. It’s so different and exciting so why not give it a go? Here’s how to deliver the perfect, Moroccan dinner party…
Firstly, you need to start with the décor- A simple, cost effective way to add vibrancy and Moroccan flare to your dinner party is through tableware and seating. Moroccans love to lounge comfortably while dining so a couch laden with comfortable, bright cushions, silk throws or ottomans resting on a colourful rug, by a low table are much preferred to the western idea of eating around a dining table. Obviously, this is the most practical way in which to host a dinner party so you can liven up the presentation of your table by dressing it with stunning, silk table runners, lanterns and jewel coloured tea cups filled with tea light candles and of course, the iconic tagine. Not only can you cook in them but they are the ultimate talking piece and decorative feature for your dinner party. There are mini tagines for salt, pepper and spices, serving tagines for those delicious, aromatic dishes your guests will be dining on and they make a fabulous centre piece. Beautiful and regal, the tagines stand tall and proud, peaked in order to pique your guests’ interest! Plus, they will make a stunning addition to your home décor even after your friends have gone home for the night.
Now that your table is set, it’s time to get on with initiating Moroccan traditions. The Moroccan people definitely have a sweet tooth therefore a traditional, Moroccan meal will begin with sweets. As you enter a Moroccan home you will be greeted with cool glasses of milk and dates, stuffed with walnuts. As soon as you sit down to dine there will be many glasses of sweet, mint tea served in beautiful, silver teapots alongside a glorious array of Moroccan pastries- anyone would be understandably confused when presented with sweet treats at the start of the meal, however traditional sweets are delicious and difficult to resist even if served at the start of a meal! Various pastries and biscuits made with ground almonds, orange blossom water, dried fruit, honey and of course rose water is the best start to a meal that I can think of! But be sure to leave room for the main event- the tagines!
As soon as the pastries have been eaten and the tea has been sipped, you will be invited to wash your hands at the table with the traditional hand washing pot then your table will be filled with too many dishes to count- couscous rolled by hand and steamed three times to ensure it is light and fluffy, fresh salads, tagines cooked with chicken, preserved lemon and olives. Lamb tagines cooked with punchy spices, almonds and boiled eggs. Earth vegetables cooked until falling a part, so succulent and delicious beyond being just a simple ‘vegetable’.
If you really aim to impress your guests, these succulent delights will be cooked the way the Moroccan Berbers would cook their tagine- in a clay cooking tagine, resting upon a coal burner filled with hot coals where it will slowly cook away for hours. The tribe people of Morocco would trek through the desert on camel back for hours on end. When they arrived at their destination a portable oven was required to cook their meal pre gas and electricity times and the coal burner was born. The tagine imparts such an earthy, wholesome flavour into the food like no other and the coals provide a smokiness and theatricality that will really wow your guests. Alternatively, you can cook your tagines on a low gas flame or in a low temperature oven. The rule is to cook it low and slow- the steam will rise up to the top of the tagine due to its conical shape and fall back into the food, ensuring it is succulent and moist. Transfer your dishes into a hand painted, decorative tagine and serve. To the wonder of your guests they won’t believe their eyes when you raise the lid and present your aromatic, spiced tagines for their enjoyment. If you still have any room left after the tagine course, a selection of fresh fruits will be served to complete the meal. Your guests will leave thrilled and satisfied after a wonderful, dinner party experience and you will be able to rest easy after a job well done!