Are you considering a cooking class while in Morocco, maybe the infamous Fes medina is the place to do it? Afterall, Fes is the oldest medina in the world. So what better place to learn the art of cooking Moroccan food. But…
Is it possible to learn Moroccan recipes and cooking techniques and take these back to your home on the other side of the world? Can the magical flavours and spices of a tagine be recreated in your home kitchen at the end your fabulous Moroccan holiday? And then the question… which cooking class do you choose?
With all the options available, it’s hard to find the right one. You might think that every cooking class offers the same experience… but in all honesty Fes is a very big medina. The biggest in the world actually. So no, there are many vendors, guides and restaurants who are not looking for repeat business. The quality of your experience with their goods and services is of little importance to them.
And so it’s important to get more details before you fork out money on a poor cooking class in Fes, wasting several hours for bad experience.
So, read our review and cooking class story, to find out more about choosing the right one in Fes, Morocco.
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How We Found Bab Sahra Cooking Class
We turn a small alleyway within the Fez medina, and there is no denying… we are now kind of lost. But being the cool, calm travellers that we are, we remind ourselves that some of the best lessons come from getting lost. This is one of those occasions. How would we know that this path would in fact lead us to one of our most memorable experiences in Morocco.
As we arrive at the end of the alleyway we come across a large grand door. This must lead to somewhere beautiful. The kids turn around to us, as if to ask, should we go in? Well why not!
And we are immediately greeted by the beautiful Rita and team, and she welcomes us to the Bab Sahra Restaurant. The problem was, we had just eaten and weren’t looking for something else to eat. But given that we were staying nearby, we jumped at Rita’s offer of a tour. If they put this much effort into the decoration of their stunning riad, then one would hope they did the same with the food.
The Story of Bab Sahra in Fes
No surprises, we were immediately struck by the beauty and detail of Bab Sahra. It could really be a museum. And we quickly learnt that this restaurant only recently reopened its doors after undergoing a huge renovation. Rita explained that the renovation in fact took two years to complete. Every single tile wall, floor and ceiling tile has been put there by hand. It is Moroccan architecture at it’s finest.
The Moroccan owners, husband and wife, have indeed created a special place. Combining elements from their heritage of both the Sahara and Fes, they have designed a restaurant that is Moroccan to the core! Across the three floors of Bab Sahra, each terrace and room has a different feature or style that draws you in. And possibly the best view of all is right in the very centre of the riad, because as you take a slow 360 degree turn… the view is a masterpiece. Simply put, there are no better words for it.
But what about the food, the tagine, the cous-cous? Well! As we continued our tour of Bab Sahra, we came to a kitchen on the second floor… the cooking class kitchen. Bingo!
This was the kitchen I wanted to cook in. To learn how to create the mouth watering tagines I’d been eating all over Morocco. I wanted to be able to cook just like a local! I could tell immediately this was the cooking class I’d been subconsciously looking for in Fes. Thank you universe. And with that we booked a Fes family cooking class with Bab Sahra!
The best thing about this kitchen – it’s purpose built for cooking classes, it’s in one of the prettiest riads in Fes and it’s in the heart of the medina. Not to mention, the staff… who are all incredibly friendly!
Now incase you’ve gotten this far and you’ve no idea what a typical Moroccan tagine is? Perhaps you’ve been living under a rock somewhere 🤭
This is the traditional Moroccan dish cooked in a clay cone shaped pot. Generally they are meat based stews layered with vegetables and spices. These come in many different flavours and even regions throughout Morocco have different takes on preparing a tagine.
Some of my favourites include preserved lemon and chicken, apricot chicken or lamb and prune.
This dish is typically made on a Friday, a real family meal. And if you have prepared cous cous at home – you know the quick add hot water and leave it for 10 minutes – well it’s nothing like this. Cous cous in Morocco traditionally takes hours to make. It is massaged and caressed with oil, and then it’s steamed gently over cooking vegetables and meat.
During the cooking process the cous cous is periodically removed, the natural stocks added and then it’s returned to the steamer. It’s a beautiful process and delicious to boot.
A Moroccan Cooking Class – What to Expect
Visiting the Market
The day had arrived and our cooking class was upon us. Due to the fact that our accommodation was nearby and we knew the location, we walked to Bab Sahra to meet our master chef. However, someone from the team would normally meet their students at the Blue Gate or Bab Boujloud.
After introductions with the lovely team, we took baskets and headed to the market. Wandering through medina with these lovely ladies is a real treat, an insight into local custom and culture. They share valuable insights into daily medina-life practices and rituals.
So now, a warning… if you’re squeamish about being a part of the butcher process then perhaps you ask to be spared this part of the cooking class. In all honesty, the process was over and finished before we had knew it, I’d barely had the chance to let the kids know what was coming.
So it was quick! I’m a firm believer in know where your food comes from… and hey… it doesn’t get much realer than that.
Then with cooking supplies in hand, from olives, to meat, to the veggies and spices, it’s time to cook!
The Cooking Lesson
Back in the kitchen, it’s time to put our aprons and hats on, wash our hands and get straight to it. It’s so good to be in a super clean, organised and well equipped kitchen! Today we make a chicken tagine with preserved lemons and green olives. My mouth is already watering.
Our teacher stands across from us and she demonstrates what needs to be done. While on our side of the kitchen bench, we watch and follow along the same steps with our produce.
We learn how Moroccans clean the chicken with lemon juice and ginger and then let it stand for 24 hours. I learn new ways to chop onions – and am surprised by how many onions go into this tagine recipe. We nibble on the preserving lemon rind, try the olives and taste test our way through the cooking stages of the tagine.
Most importantly we laugh and joke with our teachers. This lesson is interactive, fun and a joy to experience. Then as we get closer to the feast time and our tummies churn with hunger, our hosts ask us what salads we would like to accompany our chicken tagine as the table is prepared for our heavenly smelling lunch.
As you take your seat in the stunning riad and the food begins to arrive in front of you, the temptation becomes unbearable. The hunger reaches a new level as the tagine is placed in the centre of the table, then one, two, three… the tagine lid is lifted. The tagine that you made, with a little help from your new friends.
This is a second word of warning – arrive to your lesson hungry! We devour this tasty Moroccan meal, proud to have learnt the cooking steps in the process. And we continue to eat until we’re ready to burst. Then when the tagine is done, lunch is followed by traditional mint tea and homemade biscuits.
It’s all DELICIOUS!!!
The Cost – Value for Money
Yes, in our opinion this cooking class provides excellent value for money.
A cooking class with Bab Sahra in Fes medina costs 60 Euros per person. This is value for money when you consider the purpose built kitchen that you cook in and the delicious feast you enjoy at the end of it all. All the while spending time admiring the incredible riad restaurant that surrounds you.
Cooking Class with Kids
Can you take kids? Yes you can… and you’ll know if this is an experience your children would enjoy or not. Our girls were aged nine and seven and were very interested in being a part of the cooking experience.
The team were fantastic at including the kids and getting them involved at each step of the process. It even got to the point that I had to shove them aside so I could have a turn.
Towards the end of the cooking lesson and given this experience was over two hours, the kids did begin to lose concentration. But at this point they were able to wander around Bab Sahra and play. The owner’s youngest sister was running around and this was a perfect opportunity to make a new friend.
Our Honest Review and Thoughts
It’s clear that Bab Sahra endeavours to provide a quality experience, which evidently they have achieved.
I love food and I also love cooking. I’m not an expert by any means, but with a few techniques now up my sleeve I know I can return home and make an authentic and tasty tagine.
With the tagine dish now available for purchase all around the world then re-creating this meal will be no trouble at all. I have an Emile Henry tagine which I love to cook with. But there is no need to look for an expensive brand, search your local opportunity shops and chances are you’ll find one there.
In terms of spices, all that we used in the lesson were common spices that you’d find in your local supermarket. Preserving lemons might be a little trickier to find, but I’m sure with some research you’ll find them online if not in a supermarket near you. Alternatively, why not try making them yourself, it’s easier than you might think – check this recipe here.
Finally, I’m a teacher and what I really appreciated is that the cooking lesson wasn’t done for us. We took an active part in the cooking. It’s so easily happens, when a teacher takes over, and the student is left observing a demonstration. Rather than hands on participation. And with Bab Sahra’s lovely team this was not an issue, they were natural teachers.
The result… a scrumptious tagine and the work of our very own hands.
How to Book
So there we have it… I hope this review helps you decide if a cooking lesson in Morocco is right for you or not.
Finding a restaurant and cooking school like Bab Sahra is like stumbling across a diamond in the rough. And after you’ve read this review of our typical Moroccan cooking lesson, you’ll no doubt be clicking this link below.
For more travel information, itineraries and guides for Morocco click here. We travelled Morocco for three months to bring you this content – so we hope they help!
Looking for our complete guide of things to do in Fes and self guided walking tour through the Fes el-Bali Medina… then click here!
And if you are heading to Fes, Morocco soon then save this post for later!
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