Morocco stays in Pune till November 8th at The Westin Pune Koregaon Park, as an interesting Moroccan Food Festival is underway at the hotel known also for its exquisite food at its different restaurants. Held at Seasonal Tastes and planned by Chef de Cuisine, Prasad Metrani, it was definitely a peep into the food which smells of authenticity. Chef Metrani has had experience of getting to know the cuisine when he had visited the country quite a few years back. He personally saw how it is prepared and has brought ingredients straight from the North African country to give it a touch of reality. It had everything from tagines, salads, and soups to wraps, grills, hot spreads, typical breads and the works. A taste of authenticity marks the eating experience here, as I was witness to it.
Amidst the Moroccan cold salads like Zaalouk- Aubergine Dip, Ispinaki Limone Salade (Spinach And Pickled Lemon Salad), Serouda (Chickpea & Tomato Sauce Salad), Taktouka (Tomato & Green Pepper Salad), Beetroot With Yoghurt & Oranges and Fegguos Salade (Chopped Cucumber & Tomato Salad), I loved trying Hummus with Green Harrisa, Berber Salade (Country Style Salad From Marrakech) and Onion Mezgueldi (Caramelised Onions With Butter). The spiciness in the hummus might appeal to the Indian palate. While one shifted to the one veg and one non-veg soup, the Lamb Harira might tempt you with its lightly spicy and tangy soup with hints of lamb.
Sure, there were starters like Kasbah or Spicy Chicken Bites, Sesame Halloumi Bites, Puffed Moroccan Pizza, wraps and grills, the Grilled Merguez Sausages or Lamb Sausages were simple ones. It was main course which called for the attention with Samak Chermoula (Pan Fried Moroccan Fish), Vegetable Tagine, Maakouda Batata (Moroccan Potato Cakes), Cous Cous and Mograbieh (Semolina Dumplings With Cumin). I personally loved tasting the subtle flavours of Dijaj N’Quallu (Pot-roasted Whole Chicken) and the well-cooked & spicy Arin M’Qualli (Braised Lamb Leg with Cayenne Pepper).
One had to try out the desserts which consisted of B’stilla Au Lait (Layered Pastry With Almond Cream), Fresh Fruit Briouates (Fresh Fruit Triangles), Almond Gharibiya (Biscuits from Casablanca), Fakkas (Morrocan Rusks), Almond & Cloves Cookies, etc. One could give the Fez Style Rice Pudding a miss for being too typical. Try the Chakbkia (Fried Pastries drizzled with Honey & Sesame), Chocolate M’nancha (Chocolate Rolls) and the very delicately flavoured Orange Flower Blossom & Pistachio Ice Cream. My favourite in the whole lot was the B’stilla Dijaj (Chicken cooked with Eggs wrapped in Pastry & Baked in Pots, served with Relish or Salads). It felt like a lighter version of scrambled eggs with chicken in it inside a bun. One could it gobble a few in one go, if you are too hungry.
The special Moroccan spread is quite wide to let everyone’s taste buds feel happy. I felt the veg and non-veg options were quite vast to satisfy everyone. Yes, Moroccan cuisine might sound like something for the meat lovers but veggies do have space here. Try it if you want.
Date: till November 8th 2014
Venue: Seasonal Tastes, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park