Eija Bankach, 62 years old – Massa, Morocco
In Eija’s kitchen there are neither gas nor electric cookers and when she cooks she only uses some embers (always kept burning) in the yard outside her house.
Eija was born in the south of Morocco, in a Berber family, and for what she remembers she has always lived in Massa, one hour southern from Agadir. She lives with her husband and her younger daughter, whereas the older one moved with her husband a few years ago, a couple of kilometres from her house. Thanks to her Eija has become a grandmother four years ago. Her grandson, Norden, spends a lot of time with her and often enjoys helping her in the kitchen. “He’s really good at chopping carrots”, she points out, talking about him.
Time: 1 hour and a half
Ingredients for 4 people:
– 2 big potatoes
– 2 big red onions
– 2 red sweet chillies and 2 hot green ones
– 2 tomatoes
– 2 sprigs of parsley
– 2 white turnips
– 3 carrots
– a chicken quarter
– Salt, pepper and oil
Tajine is a common dish of meat with sauce, very popular in the Northern-African cooking, and Moroccan in particular. Its name draws from the characteristic plate used to cook it, which is traditionally made of clay and is composed of two parts: a lower flat-bordered and round part and an upper conic one, which is positioned above the dish during cooking time. The shape of the lid is made on purpose so that it facilitates the coming of the condensation downwards, and it has got a knob on top to handle it easily. Instead, the lower part is used to serve the dish at table.
To make a good Tajine you don’t have to be professional chefs, its preparation is very easy.
Lay the lower part of the tajine plate on the embers. Using a spoonful of oil, fry on low heat two sprigs of parsley, two green chillies and half onion, everything previously chopped.
In the meanwhile, clean and chop roughly all the other vegetables.
As soon as the fried vegetables are ready, put the chicken on top of them and cover everything with the remaining chopped vegetables. Add salt and pepper to your taste, cover the tajine with his lid and let it cook for about one hour.
At the end of the cooking, set the tajine in the middle of the table and, as part of the tradition, the guests help themselves on the dish, using their hands. If you prefer using cutlery, the food will taste the same, but you won’t have the pleasure of literally licking your fingers in the end.