Ait Benhaddou, M’hamid, Erg Chegaga, Taznakht (Gourmet Chick in Morocco)

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As I sip on my fourth glass of mint tea that day at a roadside cafe, Hassan smiles and says “You know what we call that? Berber whiskey!”. Hassan was born in a village just outside of M’hamid on the edge of the Sahara desert in Morocco and as a Berber himself if there is a joke to be made about Berbers he will be the first to make it. Berber is the name given to the indigenous inhabitants of the Sahara region in Morocco but also encompasses several dialects and languages and a people spread over a vast geographical area of Africa.


Hassan is our driver and guide for a three day expedition through the Atlas mountains and into the Sahara desert. His dry sense of humour and encyclopedic knowledge of the geography and culture of the countryside we travel through make it a truly memorable trip. It is a testament to the charm of Hassan that I am amused rather than offended when he offers to “buy” me for 120 camels from MTV boyfriend. We soon learn that Hassan is also a talented cook as he prepares huge platters of diced tomato, pepper and onion salad to accompany succulent chicken which he cooks on a grill as we stop for lunch in the middle of the desert at Oasis Sacree where we can rest in the shade of palm trees from the sun’s glare.

We spend the night in tents at the foot of the awe inspiring sand dunes of Erg Chegaga and feast on lamb tagine while sitting under the stars. The incredible setting makes the rustic, simple food taste better than that at any Michelin star restaurant. Finally, on our way back to Marrakesh we stop for a traditional Berber lunch in the tiny village of Taznakht. The Berber tagine has a domed lid rather than a conical one which the Berber’s swear increases the flavour of the tagine. Our tagine is kefta comprising lamb meat balls in a tomato and egg sauce dotted with olives. The lamb is delicately flavoured and the combination of meatballs and egg is moreish. Somewhat like an English breakfast fry up but in a tagine. After mopping up the last pieces of the sauce with flat bread there was nothing for it but to finish our meal with another “Berber Whiskey” as Hassan looked on approvingly.

Details: Sahara Services, M’hamid, Morocco (Ph +212 (0) 661 77 67 66)

If you liked reading this you can read about some of my other adventures in Morroco like my amazing meal at Elizir restaurant in Essaoiura and at a cooking school in Marrakesh.

6 comments

  1. What a fantastic post,the food looks gorgeous and the romance you evoke of trekking through the Sahara and Atlas Mountains with a Berber guide and eating out under the stars makes me feel like I didn’t get anywhere near as much out of Morroco as I should have. Very Jealous.

  2. The offer to buy women for a certain number of camels must be part of the tourguide patter, because so many of my friends have told me similar stories about their trips to Morocco. What a strange thing to have become part of the tourist banter, no?

  3. Dan – it was an amazing experience but you were there for a lot shorter time than me – next time!

    American in London – It is strange I think Hassan was really poking fun at his countries reputation for sexism but I did give as good as I got and offered MTV boyfriend for sale for a bargain 10 camels as an alternative.

  4. Wow! Fabulous! My husband and son did a trip through the Sahara with Moroccan guides and cooks – but he didn’t take pics of the food they ate! Fantastic!

  5. The overnight stay in the Atlas mountains sound wonderful – and bizarrely, it’s the second post in my Google Reader this week about such a trip!

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