Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and Sam (Dooley Wilson)
in Casablanca (Michael Curtiz 1942)
Over the years I have cooked with a variety of different nationalities and ethnic groups. The Malays in Brunei and Malaysia, Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore, Indian, Pakistani and Iranians in Dubai. I have cooked in Bali, Nigeria, all over the Middle East and some North Africa, and also North America and naturally Europe.
And, NO …. as the intro may suggest, I never cooked in Morocco. Never even been there. Not even close. But, I have watched the movie more than a few times.
PLAY IT ONCE, SAM. FOR OLD TIMES’ SAKE.
It still rings in my ears, this phrase. I have no idea what romanticism it is that brings it back. I have never been to Casablanca. Not even close.
I have received a Tajine pot the other day. And this is what image comes to my mind:
This amazing image was taken by Jiří Dokoupil
A tajine, or tagine, is a Berber dish from North Africa, that is named after the special earthenware pot in which it is cooked. The traditional tajine pot is formed entirely of a heavy clay, which is sometimes painted or glazed. It consists of two parts: a base unit that is flat and circular with low sides, and a large cone or dome-shaped cover that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is so designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom. With the cover removed, the base can be taken to the table for serving.
Moroccan tajines combine lamb or chicken with olives, quinces, apples, pears, apricots, raisins, prunes, dates, nuts, with fresh or preserved lemons, with or without honey, with or without a complexity of spices. Traditional spices that are used to flavour tajines include ground cinnamon, saffron, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, pepper, as well as the famous spice blend ras el hanout. Turkey meat is also sometimes used. Some famous tajine dishes are mqualli or mshermel (both are pairings of chicken, olives and citrus fruits, though preparation methods differ), kefta (meatballs in an egg and tomato sauce), and mrouzia (lamb, raisins and almonds).