Milestone: This blogpost has been referenced by the Marrakesh Cafe in Dallas, on its landing web page.
My first exposure to the delectable cuisines of North-Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) happened in Israel while doing my International MBA with fellow students from 16 countries around the world. My class fellows included three individuals from Morocco, getting to know whom not only served to bolster my French (French and Arabic are both spoken in the former French colonies in North Africa), but also acquaint me with the inimitable cuisines from this region.
A bit of relevant history re: Morocco, that was ruled by the Berber dynasties (60-70% of today's Moroccans are of Berber ancestry) who at their pinnacle of power, held sway not only over North-Africa, but also significant parts of Europe including Spain and Portugal. I saw clear evidence of this on my recent trip to Portugal which still to this day, has palaces, castles and mosques representing the Moorish architecture reminiscent of Morocco, that exist in harmony with the Gothic, Greco-Roman and Portugal’s unique neo-Gothic Manueline architecture that are timeless icons of this magnificent country’s checkered past and grandeur.
The eclectic influences that the Berbers of Morocco were exposed to (Arab, Moorish, Iberian, Middle-Eastern, Mediterranean), culminating from their history of invasion and conquest, manifests itself distinctly in the colors, spices, condiments that render Moroccan cuisine unique and delectable, and oh, so different from the Middle-Eastern cuisines (with their origins in Egypt, Lebanon, Greece and Turkey), that the cognoscenti can truly appreciate.
Having has the privilege of experiencing fine cuisine from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia in France, Israel and Portugal, I longed for an establishment that would present me with an authentic North-African culinary experience without having to embark on a Trans-Atlantic expedition. My intrepid quest was recently rewarded with the discovery of two establishments (both family run establishments) in Dallas – the Marrakkesh Café in Dallas and the Kasbah in Irving.
What brings me back for more:
While I have experienced both establishments (that both serve fairly authentic Moroccan fare) the Marrakesh Café wins hands down in terms of variety, authenticity, service and ambiance. Founded and run by a native of Marrakesh – Majid Al Mansour, Marakkesh Café offers an ambiance that is elegant, warm and embellished with colors and objets d’art reminiscent of the Morocco, well complemented with an exceptional quality of customer service.
The family takes great pride in their service as well as the authenticity of the cuisine they serve, that keep their customers coming back for more with their family and friends!
- Harira soup: thick, peppery and steaming Moroccan lentil soup with Garbanzo beans that helps you really build up an appetite…yummy especially with a dash of lemon.
- Zaalouk: grilled and mashed eggplant with tomato, cilantro, garlic and Moroccan spices (see photo below), that is a mouth watering delight and is perhaps matched only by the delicacy of the Baingan Bharta from Northern-India. Strongly recommended to get you into "the swing of things"!
- Brochettes “Kebab”: well presented repertoire of delights (you can order any type or a combo of all three) from the grill comprising regular beef, chicken and ground beef (Kafta), marinated with their secret spices, well done and served with saffron rice and salad.
- Chicken Bastilla: is a semi-sweet seasoned pie with boneless chicken and roasted almonds wrapped in dough, baked and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar – a Moroccan novelty that is actually consumed before dinner, to build up an appetite, believe it or not!
- Couscous Royal: a staple from Morocco and North-Africa comprising steamed semolina delivered with chicken, lamb and merguez sausage served with mixed vegetables and harissa hot sauce, topped with caramelized onions and raisins (see photo below) – this is truly fit for the aristocracy and highly recommended. You can also order their regular couscous with lamb, beef or chicken.
- Lamb and Prunes Tagine: well cooked lamb simmered in a blend of spices with saffron rice, served with prunes, almonds and sesame seeds – this is the quintessence of Moroccan cuisine that you must have, especially on your first encounter.
- Cornish Hen Tagine and Lemon: a variation of the lamb tagine prepared with tender Cornish game hen and traditional spices, garnished with lemon and green olives (see photo below) for that oh, so inimitable spicy and tangy implosion of flavors that will absolutely indulge your taste buds and bring you back for more. You can also order this with artichokes and peas if you like.
- Fish Tagine: delivers the sea food incarnation of this Moroccan classic, spiced with Sharmoula sauce and served with saffron rice.
- Sliced Oranges: smothered in orange blossom water and kissed with cinnamon and sugar that is the desirable way of consummating this incredible Moroccan culinary experience, in my humble opinion.
Check out the Marrakesh Café and do let me know whether your gastronomical adventure was as memorable as mine!:-)
This adventure in Dallas, Texas begins at: Marrakesh Café, 7989, Beltline Road, Suite 315, Dallas, Texas 75248. Tel # (972) 239-7775 / (972) 239- 7776. Click here for the Google Map and Directions.
Comments: "Cafe Marrakesh has just started serving Kefta with eggs on the lunch buffet that taste just like my mother -in-law's. I thought you would like to know.
Also, after viewing your picture, I need to have some tagine." :-)
Jill Elmazouni, July 30th, 2008, 2:13 PM