Monday 23 August 2010

Maroc Mama Chicken Tagine Spice Mix

We've just come back from a fortnight in Turkey where we've been soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of the local markets along with the sun. The earthy tones and fragrances blend together to create an unforgettable sensory maelstrom and the tubs of loose fresh herbs and spices are absolutely worlds apart from the bland, almost sterile, prepackaged spices you can buy in supermarkets in the UK or France. We thought the same thing when we went to Tunisia two years ago and we have never found spices as fresh or flavoursome as those spices that we brought back from exotic markets however hard we try.

I was therefore really excited when the exotic sounding Marocmama asked for some reviewers of her tagine spices on facebook. On her twitter profile, Marocmama - or real name Amanda - describes herself as "a foodie at heart and lover of all things Moroccan (including my hubby) !" so I was really hoping that this would be the real deal. She explains on her website that "all of the spices used in the mixes are from Morocco. They are as fresh as possible and are overall much higher quality than can be found in even high end grocery stores." She goes on to explain, "This product is great for the occasional cook who does not want to purchase all of the various spices in Moroccan cooking. It would also be great for a foodie who wants high quality spices. This would also make a great gift for an avid cook or traveller longing for a taste of Morocco." Yes, that sounds like me !

Well, a week or so later, an envelope plopped on the doormat and before I even got down the stairs, I could smell the tantalising aroma of spices wafting up the stairs. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply, feeling like a cartoon character breathing in the green haze of food smells when they're hungry, and I was mentally back in those exotic markets. Ripping apart the envelope and carefully opening the sachet, I had a proper sniff and was blown away by the intensity and authenticity of the spicy fragrance.

But, however good it smells, the proof of the pudding (or in this case, the spices) is in the eating. I had chosen the chicken tagine spice to test but it is also available in beef or fish/seafood mixes .The spice mixes come with a handy recipe card, in my case for Chicken and Olive Tagine. As I didn't have any olives or preserved lemons in the fridge, I adapted the recipe to suit what we had in - which is to say, not much as we were just back from holiday ! I made a relatively plain dish using just onions, chicken fillet and the tagine spice mix and it was delicious. The mix adds a great depth of flavour but very little heat, so even 9-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Juliette, who are not at all keen on spice mixes that "set your mouth on fire", devoured their platefuls and asked for more !

I'm amazed that spices that come from the United States via Morocco can taste so fresh but with each mouthful, I was mentally transported back to our fantastic holidays in exotic climes. Maroc Mama's online store has only just opened so the trio of tagine spices are the only products available at the moment. She does have plans to add more products though so I'd advise you to check back frequently (as I will be !).

I'd also highly recommend Maroc Mama's blog which teems with delicious-sounding recipes that had me salivating, as well as numerous blogposts that deal with all things Moroccan that give you a fascinating insight into, for example, Ramadan, Islam and Moroccan culture. As her blog says, it gives you the "tastes, sights and virtual smells from my Moroccan kitchen. Highlights of cuisine, language and culture from an American wife in a Moroccan home." Whenever I need a taste of sunshine in the middle of winter or fancy some armchair travelling, I'll certainly be paying her a visit.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : $6.50 for one or $18.99 for the trio of tagine spices

for more information :

Other reviews you might be interested in :

EasyReach Magnetic Spice Rack
Patak's Oven Bake Biryani
Sacla Italian Tomato & Olive Stir Through Sauce

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