Tag Archives: travel

A Traditional Riad With A Contemporary Twist

The New Extension To Riad 72, Marrakech

I wanted to write about the new addition to Riad 72 after my visit in September last year but I was sworn to secrecy as it was still a work in progress.  The new section, an ancient Riad adjacent to the existing Riad is now open for business so I can share my photos with you.

The owner, Giovanna Cinel, the architects and interior designers, Project Ch(ouf) have created a sleek modern look using traditional Moroccan crafts: zellij tiles, turned wood and tadelakt in a contemporary colour palette.

 

The Tiles

The Riad courtyard features traditional Zellij tiles in a striking pattern of dark cherry,rich plum, pale pink, beige and  cream.  The tiles were individually handcrafted and it took over a month to lay the floor.  Sunlight reflecting on the surface of the tiles creates the illusion of rippling water and when you look down on the courtyard from the floor above it looks as if vines are trailing toward the central fountain.

 

 

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Pale Tadlakt Walls, Carved latticework balconies and horseshoe arches

Look up to the first floor and you can see the creamy white tadelakt walls, the horse shoe shaped arches and the handcrafted wooden latticework balconies in a contrasting taupe.  The window frames and traditional wooden Moroccan doors are also in taupe contrasting beautifully with the walls and the zellij tiles.

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A mix of old and new

Plush velvet sofas, brass tables and geometric wallpaper work well with vintage flea market finds and create an elegant space.    The designers have cleverly brought the colours of the Medina into the Riad using a rich palette of reds and pinks.

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old-and-new

You can read my earlier post on Riad 72 here.

Click here to book a stay at this wonderful Riad.

Read my Marrakech highlights here.

 

Note: This is not a sponsored post.

Ben Youssef Madrasa Marrakech

The Ben Youssef Madrasa was the largest Islamic theological college in Morocco.  It was founded in the 14th century by the Marinid Sultan Abu al-Hassan and further developed by Sultan Abdallah al-Ghalib in the 16th century in order to rival the madrasas of Fez.

It’s a wonderful example of Moorish architecture, with its carved Atlas cedar windows and wooden lattice screen balconies, five colour zellij tiling, stucco designs on the walls and a marble mihrab, which indicated the direction of Mecca.

The main courtyard (below) is breathtakingly ornate and features a large filled basin of shallow water in the centre.  The college is no longer in use but there were once students residing in the 132 dorm rooms arranged around the courtyard.  In stark contrast to the inscriptions and patterned stucco and colourful tiling on the exterior walls the dorm rooms are small and spartan (final photograph).

Ben Youssef Madrasa

Ben Youssef Madrasa
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Ben Youssef Madrasa

My advice is to visit the Ben Youssef Madrasa when it opens at 8am before it gets too busy and before the sun becomes too bright to take photos of the courtyard.  Click here for directions.

If you visit the Madrasa I also recommend that you visit the Maison de la Photographie and see the wonderful collection of old photos of Morocco as it is nearby.  Click here for directions.

For other suggestions on what to see and do in Marrakech click on Morocco on the right hand side of this blog.

Moroccan Wedding Blankets

Vintage Moroccan wedding blankets, also known as handira or tamizart, have been popular with interior designers and stylists for some time.  The neutral colour palette of the blankets makes them an extremely versatile addition to a bedroom or sitting room.  They add elegance, texture, pattern, glamour and sparkle and can be used in a variety of ways: as a coverlet or footer on a bed, over the back of a sofa or a chair, as a stylish headboard, a casual throw or as a wall hanging.  Have a look at the Pinterest board below for some ideas on how you can use wedding blankets in your home.  Scroll down the Pinterest board with your mouse to see all the images.

Hand Woven By The Mother Of The Bride For Her Wedding Day

There are different types wedding blanket in Morocco.  The cream and white variety comes from the mid Atlas mountains where they are hand-woven by the mother of the bride and her female relatives in preparation for her wedding day. They are woven from local wool and cotton in a natural palette of cream and white and can take several weeks or months to complete.  Each piece is unique and reflects the skill and creativity of the weaver.  Many blankets feature bands of kilim weaving, sometimes concealed by cotton fringing on the front but visible on the back.  These coloured kilim bands often contain talismanic symbols conveying the hopes of the bride’s mother for her future prosperity, fertility and happiness.

 

Each sequin is sewn on by hand.  The sequins form small clusters or rows or both and are said to ward off the evil eye.  It’s also possible that their similarity to small coins is intended to symbolise future wealth.  They also reflect the light whether it’s the light of the fire in the evening or daylight sun.

 

The blankets are worn like capes either over the head or around the shoulders and tied at the neck.  They are traditionally worn by the bride on her journey to her husband’s home.  After the marriage they are used as bed or wall coverings to decorate the marital home.

Our stock of vintage Moroccan wedding blankets is constantly changing but you can see a selection below.

Moroccan wedding blankets

Photos: Kristy Noble and Dave Bullivant

You can see our full range of vintage Moroccan wedding blankets here and our range of cushions from vintage Moroccan wedding blankets here.  We think that as well as adding glamour to your home they would make a wonderful wedding present.

Shreyas Yoga Retreat

Relax and Re-energise at Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Karnataka, India

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Shreyas is an Ayurvedic yoga and wellbeing retreat in Karnataka, an hour by car from Bangalore.  It’s a Relais & Chateau hotel offering all the benefits of a traditional ashram without the austerity associated with ashram life.   It’s the place to go when you want to escape from daily life to focus on yoga and meditation and re-energize.

You start to relax on the drive to the retreat, as you pass through lush tropical vegetation and small farming communities, and that feeling of tranquility and calm continues throughout your stay.

Deep stillness in beautiful surroundings

The sense of peacefulness and deep stillness is in part due to the beautiful surroundings.  The retreat is set in 25 acres of coconut plantation, frangipani trees and organic farmland.  The only sounds are birds singing, the odd monkey chattering and frogs croaking in the evenings.

shreyas yoga retreat

Shreyas yoga retreat

Shreyas is an Ayurvedic ashram.  Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of holistic medicine balancing mind and body through diet, yoga, meditation and herbal treatments.  My stay began with a personal consultation with the on-site Ayurvedic and naturopathic doctors who created my agenda for the week based on my needs and the yoga package I had chosen.

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Shreyas yoga retreat

Days start in traditional ashram style at 06.30am with one and half hours of yoga, either hatha or ashtanga depending on your ability.  Practising yoga in the early morning in the yoga pavilion just as the sun is coming out and the ground is beginning to warm up is a wonderful way to wake up and start the day.

My yoga package included two group yoga classes a day, and five individual yoga sessions.  The yoga is expertly taught in a disciplined, traditional, way and the teachers are inspiring.

After the intensity of the yoga sessions you can relax by the pool or book a treatment or massage at the Ayurvedic spa.  Choose from Balinese, Thai, Swedish or Ayurvedic massages.

 

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shreyas yoga retreat

Time for introspection and reflection

Meditation is an integral part of the yoga package, something which is often overlooked in Western yoga.  Classes include pranayama to regulate and extend breathing, yoga nidra, taking you into a deeper state of consciousness, candle meditation or trataka, which helps improve focus and concentration, and guided meditation.  All these techniques aid relaxation and help create a sense of inner calm.

As well as seated meditation you can take a walking meditation in the grounds or find one of the hidden machans (above) in the organic gardens and spend time meditating there.

shreyas yoga retreat

shreyas yoga retreat

Shreyas decor

There are three types of accommodation: tented cabins with al fresco bathrooms, rooms by the infinity pool and three rooms in a separate cottage with a large lounge area.

All the interiors have an understated elegance, featuring natural colours and materials, which blend in with the surroundings. There is the odd splash of colour in the form of  kantha cushions and large meditation bowls filled with floating roses or geraniums.

Delicious, nutritious, vegetarian meals

Shreyas cooking lesson

Shreyas-at-night

Shreyas is an ashram so the food is vegetarian and there is a a strictly no alcohol policy.   The food is light, plentiful and delicious. Meals vary from Indian to Mexican to European and the ingredients are mainly sourced from the organic gardens.  As part of my yoga package I had a cookery demonstration with Chef Mani and learnt how to make a nourishing spinach and cumin soup. You can find the recipe here.

The staff go out of their way to make each meal an experience.  From the variety of dishes, to the floral table decorations, to the venue which changes every evening.  One night you might be sitting by a roaring fire (I visited in February) in a candlelit garden, another you may be sitting near the pool surrounded by coloured lanterns.

Returning home after such a wonderful break is tough but the staff help you to integrate what you have learned during your stay into you daily life back home with practical guidance and a yoga manual to assist you with your practice.  I returned home feeling relaxed, re-energised and planning my return trip.

You can find out more about Shreyas here.

Shreyas yoga retreat

Photos courtesy of Shreyas

Riad Due Marrakech

Riad Due a hip boutique hotel in the Marrakech Medina

Riad Due is a boutique hotel tucked away in the Marrakech Medina.  It’s a typical Riad set around a courtyard with rooms facing inward but it has been elegantly restored and decorated by Italian owner Giovanna Cinel, who also owns Riad 72.  The Riad has four very spacious, luxurious, bedrooms and can sleep up to twelve.  It’s the perfect place for a private get together or celebration.  For lovers of Moroccan architecture and interiors it’s a feast for the eyes so I will say no more and let the images do the talking:

The Courtyard

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The courtyard complete with a plunge pool which is very welcome in the summer months.

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Traditional wooden doors open into the Samir suite.

cosy corner Riad Due Marrakech Maud interiors

A cosy nook with a wonderful old door as decoration.  For cushions by the same designer have a look at our Souk Collection.

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Views over the courtyard.

The Bedrooms

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The Abdel suite with a traditional carved ceiling, Beni Ourain rug, kantha throw on the bed and an ornate painted chest.  This room has a sunken bath with a skylight above it so you can gaze up at the stars.

Zan-Suite-Riad-Due

The Zan suite complete with a copper bath, an original wooden ceiling and an Indian kantha throw.  For similar kantha throws have a look at our vintage kantha throws.

 

Kamal-bedroom-Riad-Due

The Kamal deluxe room features warm colours, a vibrant kantha throw and an incredible ornate ceiling.

 

Samir Suite Riad Due Marrakech

The Samir suite complete with a fireplace for the winter months.  The headboard in this room is an ornate Moroccan door. I like the idea of including a bookshelf and books in the room as it makes it feel more like home.

Decorative Details

ceiling detail Riad Due Marrakech Maud interiors

Stucco plaster work features on some of the ceilings in Riad Due.

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A striking cabinet in the entrance to the Zan suite.

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Traditional doors feature throughout Riad Due.

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Striking tiles and a cleverly placed mirror which reflects the stonework.

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Sun hats ready for use on the terrace.

The Roof Terrace

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A sun spot with views over Marrakech to the Atlas mountains.

 

I would be happy to move in.  What do you think?

Click here for more information on Riad Due.

For information on Riad 72, mentioned in a previous post click here.

 

 

 

Spinach and Cumin Soup Recipe

Shreyas Recipe for Spinach and Cumin Soup

Mani, one of the five chefs at Shreyas yoga and wellbeing retreat in Nelamangala, Bangalore, showed me how to make this healthy, nourishing spinach and cumin soup. The food at the Shreyas ashram is vegetarian and is created according to yogic principles so it’s “fresh, light and nutritious”.  Ingredients are hand-picked from the retreat’s organic gardens and every meal is a culinary delight.  There’s more to follow on Shreyas in another post, for now I am sharing this delicious soup recipe, which is quick and easy to make and full of flavour, in time for the Easter break.

Shreyas-Manni-the-chef-Maud-interiors

 Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1/2 a red onion finely chopped
  • 1 packet of fresh, organic, spinach
  • 1.5 tblsps olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 300 ml cold water
  • 50 ml skimmed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cardamom powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

 

Method

  • Heat the olive oil in a large wok.
  • Add the cumin, garlic and onion and allow to lightly brown.
  • Add the spinach leaves and reduce.
  • Once the spinach has reduced add 300ml water (the water must be cold) and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove the wok from the heat and allow to cool.
  • When the mixture is at room temperature add 50ml skimmed milk, the cardamom powder and cinnamon then blend.
  • Reheat and enjoy.

 

spinach and cumin soup Maud interiors

 

 

Maud’s Top 5 Things To Do In Jaipur

Maud’s Top 5 Things To Do In Jaipur

 

Visit Phool Mandi the wholesale flower market

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Phool Mandi Jaipur

Go early, the market opens at 06.00 and watch as local farmers carry in huge sacks bursting with roses and marigolds which are traded in front of you. Later the same day you will see garland makers all over the city stringing together and selling the flower heads, which are used as offerings to Hindu deities in daily worship in temples, in offices and the home.

Whilst you are there visit the fruit and vegetable market which is alongside.  The market is on the way to Amber Fort on the Hawa Mahal Road at Chandi Taksal Gate.  You could combine your visit with a trip to Amber Fort and the Anokhi museum (see below).

Visit the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing

Anokhi museum of hand printing jaipur

Block printing areas india Anokhi hand printing museum

block printing demonstration Anokhi maud interiors

For textile lovers this is a delightful museum situated in a beautifully restored old haveli just past Amber fort on the outskirts of the city.  Anokhi is a successful block printing business with shops all over India founded over 40 years ago to revive Rajasthan’s traditional block printing techniques (see the traditional block carving and printing centres in Rajasthan and Gujarat in the map above).  The museum is dedicated to the collection and preservation of printed textiles.  Here will you see antique to modern examples of printing techniques including block printing, dabu mud resist and ajrakh printing.  You can see a demonstration of block printing (pictured above) and have a go yourself.

Anokhi works with over 1,000 craftspeople in Jaipur and the surrounding area and is known for its ethical working practices.  A visit to the main shop selling block printed clothing and home accessories in Jaipur is a must.

Museum: Khedi Gate, Amber

Shop: 2nd Floor, KK Square, C11 Prithviraj Road C Scheme.

 

Take a guided tour of the Old City

hawa mahal jaipur maud interiors

looking out from hawa mahal Jaipur maud interiors

Jaipur has over three million inhabitants and the traffic can be crazy: cars, bikes, rickshaws, trucks, cows, dogs, goats, pigs, and the odd camel and elephant all jostling for space to the constant sound of the car horn. The best way to orient oneself and get a clear picture of the old, walled, city is to get up early before the city wakes and take a walking tour. Square by Foot walks are led by architects and will give you a real insight into the history, architecture, culture and trade of the old city.  There are several different heritage walks and walks start at 06.30am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  Contact squarebyfoot@gmail.com for more information.

The above shots are of the Hawa Mahal, the Palace of the Winds, in the old city, which was built in 1799 by Maraja Sawai Pratap Singh to allow the ladies of the royal court to observe daily life on the street below without being seen.

 

Watch master craftman Mr Ikramuddin Mohd Sabir Neelgar and his team create leheriya (tie-dyed) fabric.

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tie dyed fabric drying Jaipur maud interiors

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tie dyed turban jaipur maud interiors

The name leheriya, comes from the Rajasthani word for wave because the final tie-dye effect is like rippled water.  Mr Ikramuddin Mohd Sabir Neelgar is a fourth generation master craftsman from one of the oldest families practising this Rajasthani dyeing technique. It’s a complex process involving rolling white cotton or silk into long strips which are tied at intervals and then dyed.  The process is repeated up to eight times with different colours. The result is stunning jewel-coloured fabric, which is used for traditional Rajasthani turbans, for saris and more recently by international fashion designers.  Fabric is available to purchase and the silk turbans make wonderful scarves.

This place is quite difficult to find and you may have to ask your driver to call for directions.  It’s on a side road not far from the Hawa Mahal.  The address is 2803 Mehro Ki Nadi, Chokdi Ramchandra Ji. Tel: (0141) 261 9848.

 

Browse the bazaars

 

rajasthani hen party Maud interiors

Spend time wandering the bazaars in the old city and get an insight into local life.  Buy fabric and sip a cup of chai with the storekeepers, see brides to be and their female relatives choosing ornate trimmings and fabric for their weddings in the local textile bazaar, just off Badi Chaupur.   Find thali dishes, flat saucepans for making chapati and spice containers, in Tripolia bazaar and stock up on ornate mojari slippers in Bapu bazaar.  The bazaars are open from around 10am until 8pm.

The photo above of ladies in embellished saris was taken at a Rajasthani hen party which I was invited to on my first visit to the city.

Where to stay? Check out my post on Hotel 47 Jobner Bagh

Places to stay: Hotel 47 Jobner Bagh Jaipur

Hotel 47 Jobner Bagh

Hotel 47 Jobner Bagh Jaipur

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Hotel 47 Jobner Bagh was my home from home in Jaipur, India, for a week earlier this year. Described as a luxury guesthouse it’s a delightful, family run, boutique hotel with 11 bedrooms a restaurant and a spa.

It’s one of the most welcoming places I have ever stayed and it really feels as if you are staying in a beautifully designed home rather than a hotel. Shiva Gupta, the owner, his daughter Megha, wife Anita and their staff are extremely hospitable and know how to make their guests feel at home.

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A place to relax hotel 47 Jobner Bagh

Hotel 47 Jobner Bagh was designed by an Italian architect and was once part of the Maharaja of Jobner’s garden.   The grounds are beautifully maintained. There are lots of places to sit and relax and everywhere you go you are surrounded by the fragrant scent of jasmine.

the roof terrace hotel 47 Jobner Bagh

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From the large roof terrace there are views to the Aravalli hills and Nahalargh fort and the Ganesh Temple. It’s a lovely place to sit at dusk, enjoy a drink and listen to the birdsong.

The food at the hotel is delicious.  Mrs Anita Gujar is responsible for the menu and dinner is typically a healthy three course vegetarian meal.  It’s authentic home cooking and is some of the best food I have tasted whilst travelling in India.

interior styling hotel 47 Jobner Bagh

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The interiors have been elegantly styled and it is the sort of place you want to move into. Bedrooms have antique tables, colonial style chairs and old doors as headboards.  Bathrooms have a Moroccan feel with tadelakt walls and floors.  The communal areas are full of large pots, candles, old photographs and lots of seating areas, which gives the hotel a very relaxed feel.

jewel coloured lights hotel 47 jobber bagh

The hotel is within easy reach of the Old City and all the major sites in Jaipur yet tucked away from the crazy Jaipur traffic so it is a great place to retreat to after a busy day sightseeing. You can find out more about the hotel here.

 

If you, like me, prefer boutique hotels to large corporate chains see my recommendations for Morocco here and Mexico here.

 

(Hotel 47 Jobner Bagh bedroom photographs taken by the hotel)

My Moroccan Food Q & A

My Moroccan F

 

Q & A with Nargisse Benkkabou, creator of My Moroccan Food

I’ve visited Morocco many times on sourcing trips and on holiday and really love the cuisine; the mix of spices in the tagines, the hot and cold salads, mouthwatering appetizers and of course, the sweet, sticky pastries.

I have been looking for a good source of Moroccan recipes since my last trip and came across a wonderful blog, My Moroccan Food, full of inspiring recipes accompanied by beautiful photographs, so today I am talking to Nargisse Benkkabou, a Moroccan food writer, photographer, cook and creator of My Moroccan Food, http://mymoroccanfood.com.

 

What motivated you to start blogging about Moroccan food?

I decided to start my blog straight after my cookery training last year. I had an urge to share my love of food and I chose to focus on Moroccan food because I realized that a lot of my friends love the food but rarely cook it at home. My aim is to make Moroccan cuisine more accessible.

 

What are the key ingredients of Moroccan cuisine?

  • Spices: saffron, turmeric, ginger, sweet paprika, cinnamon, ground coriander
  • Olive oil
  • Olives
  • Preserved lemons
  • Fresh coriander
  • Almonds

The main dishes are tagines, stews of spiced meat and vegetables, prepared by slow cooking in a shallow earthenware dish with a conical lid. Moroccan cuisine is also famous for its couscous.

 

What is your favourite dish?

There are many different types of tagines in Morocco but my favourite is chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons.

 

Tell us about your Moroccan cookery classes?

I am very excited about my classes, which will be launching in London soon. I am planning to teach classic recipes such as pastille, a type of meat pie, typically filled with spiced pigeon meat and apricots and having a sugared crust and my favourite chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives, to individuals or small classes of up to three people.

 

You have a delicious looking recipe for Almond and Honey Briouates, which you have kindly allowed us to share. What are the main ingredients for these bite-sized sticky sweet delicacies that you find everywhere in Morocco.

  • Almonds, cinnamon, sesame seeds, anise and orange blossom water

Almond And Honey Briouates – Dairy Free (Coconut Oil)

Almond-and-Honey-Briouantes-My-Moroccan-Food

 

Briouates are small stuffed pastries that are filled with savoury or sweet fillings such as meat, cheese or almond paste.

Almond briouates are very popular in Morocco, they are mainly made of almonds and honey and gently seasoned with orange blossom water and cinnamon.

The pastry we use the envelope them in Morocco is warka, unfortunately there is no warka in London. The best substitute to warka is filo pastry, which I also used to make bastila.

Traditionally the almond paste (the filling) is made of ground fried almonds and then the whole pastry is fried. Yes, double frying. Sounds a bit like too much frying, right?

Today, I chose to make the briouates the way my mom does them (cause she always knows best!) this means that I didn’t fry any of the ingredients to make the briouates. I simply roasted the almonds in the oven and also baked the briouates in the oven.

The result tastes amazing, I found that the baked briouates feel lighter than the fried ones I tried in the past.

If you love honey and almonds you have to try this recipe! The pastry is crunchy and covered with honey, the inside has a deep and strong almondy flavour and a sweet orange blossom water aroma.

Also, in my quest to make Moroccan recipes more accessible I used coconut oil instead of butter to brush the filo pastry and to make almond paste, I think it tastes better than with butter. Ha!

Almond-and-Honey-Briouantes-1

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Ingredients

Makes 25 small briouates

300 gr blanched almonds
80 gr caster sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons orange blossom water, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
20 gr odourless coconut oil, solid
20 gr odourless coconut oil, melted
200 gr filo pastry
300 gr honey
Ground nuts or chopped dried fruits for decoration

 

Method

• Preheat oven to 160 C (320 F).

• In a greased baking tray, place the blanched almonds and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake in the oven until lightly tan, about 20 min (middle shelve). Give the almonds a good stir halfway through cooking.

• In a nut grinder or a food processor transfer the roasted almonds and add the caster sugar, 2 tablespoons orange blossom water, cinnamon and salt. Process until all the almonds are ground.

• Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F)

• Transfer the almond mixture in a bowl and add 20 gr solid coconut oil. Mix until the ingredients are combined all together and knead to a solid mass.

• Unroll the filo and cut the pastry lengthways into 6 cm large and 30 cm long rectangles. Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry and keep the filo rectangles covered with a damp towel until ready to use to prevent them from drying out.

• On a work surface place a filo rectangle, brush it with coconut oil. Top the corner of the rectangle with a spoonful of almond paste and fold to form a triangle, up to the right and left, until the brioua is formed.

• Repeat until you’ve exhausted the almond paste and the filo pastry.

• Brush the small briouates with coconut oil and place in the oven to cook for 10 to 12 min until lightly golden.

• Meanwhile heat the honey with 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water. Avoid burning by controlling the heat, (once the the honey is foamy you should reduce the heat).

• Once the briouates are baked and golden, immediately transfer them to the simmering honey and soak the pastries for 2 to 3 minutes (flip the briouates if necessary).

• Remove to a flat dish to dry and cool before serving. Decorate with ground nuts and/or chopped dried fruits.

 

Notes

• If you use butter instead of coconut oil, use the same quantities and replace the solid coconut oil by softended butter and use melted butter instead of the melted coconut oil

• You should be able to close the pastry with the coconut oil (or butter) brushed on the filo pastry, however if you struggle to do so, use an egg yolk.

• Variation: Blanched almonds and honey briouates. The filling in this variation will taste more like marzipan, Do not roast the almonds and follow the recipe as instructed.

 

For more delicious recipes and to find out about Moroccan cookery classes follow Nargisse’s blog: https://mymoroccanfood.com.

Create Your Own Moroccan Hammam Experience

Moroccan hammam experience Riad 72

The hammam at Riad 72. Photo: Riad 72

 

If you are visiting Morocco I recommend you try a hammam either a private one at your riad or the nearest public one.  It’s essentially the Middle Eastern version of the steam room and its origins date back to Roman times.

 

Visiting a hammam is part of Moroccan life and men, women and children visit at least once a week.  Every neighbourhood has a hammam which is often situated near the communal bread oven to share the heat source.  If you are visiting the public hammam check out the times/days when it is open to women/men in advance and find out if you need to take products with you or if they are available to purchase.

 

My first hammam experience was at Riad 72 in Marrakech, which I wrote about in an earlier blog.   When they  suggested I try the hammam I have to admit that I was slightly nervous as I had visions of having my skin rubbed until it was red raw but I had nothing to worry about.  Ayesha, the hammam attendant or tellak, at Riad 72 has been giving hammam treatments for over 10 years and she even gives her ten month old baby the treatment to cleanse his skin.

 

The riad hammam is a large tadelakht covered wet room with a heated floor and a sunken bath at one end.  The bath is filled with hot water and the room fills with steam.  First you are covered in warm water to open your pores and then in a black soap made from olive oil infused with eucalyptus.  The soap cleanses and softens your skin.  Your hammam attendant then uses an exfoliating glove called a kessa to remove old skin cells.  This isn’t like an out of the jar body scrub this is serious exfoliation. You will see rolls of skin leaving your body but it is painless.

 

Once all your dead skin has been removed you are rinsed down and clay, called rhassoul, is mixed with water and applied to your entire body and your hair.  This is special lava clay from the Atlas Mountains which  is said to remove imperfections and tighten your skin.  Once the clay has dried on your skin you are rinsed down again so that all traces are removed.  I finished off with a relaxing argan oil and verbena full body massage.  My skin felt incredibly soft and rejuvenated for days afterwards and there was no redness.

 

Moroccan Hammam Riad 72

The massage room at Riad 72. Photo: Riad 72

 

Create Your Own Moroccan Hammam At Home

A hammam is a great way to unwind and pamper yourself at the same time.  You can create your own Moroccan hammam in your bathroom at home here’s how:

create your own hammam experience

1.  Create the right mood by lighting candles or try floating candles in our copper meditation urli for an ambient glow.

2.  Fill your bath with hot water or leave your shower running to create a steam filled room.

3.  Take a dip in the bath or under the shower  and then cover yourself with exfoliating soap.  There are a few providers of Moroccan soap and beauty treatments online but I am suggesting the Beldi soap with eucalyptus oil from Essence of Morocco.

4.  Once covered with soap start gently exfoliating with the kessa glove.  Work from the extremities in using long sweeping movements and applying pressure.

5.  Rinse off and apply a thin layer of rhassoul clay, lava clay, which is said to rid the skin of impurities, detoxifying the skin. I’m suggesting the Essence of Morocco Rhassoul Clay Mask because the mask is already mixed for you so it is easier to use.  The clay is mined from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.   You can also use the mask as a natural shampoo and as a weekly face mask.

6.  Leave the mask for 5 – 10 minutes so that it is dry but not too tight and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

7.  Finally to finish off the experience massage in Argan oil.  I like Essence of Morocco’s organic Argan Oil with Rose.

Afterwards your skin should feel cleansed, soft and rejuvenated and you should feel pampered and relaxed.

 

Please note this isn’t a sponsored post.  There are a number of online providers of Moroccan hammam products I have suggested the Essence of Morocco products because I have used them before and think the quality is good.