Monday, November 16, 2015

Morocco by way of India, via Pakistan, with a stop in NYC

India, Pakistan, NYC, Morocco. That's quite a journey. But the journey doesn't end there. It ends in Schenectady.

Humble Schenectady of all places. And how blessed the Electric City is because of it.

I find it interesting that the small North African nation of Morocco (with a population of just 34 million) is ingrained into American culture. After all, one of the greatest films made, arguably, is Casablanca, set in the eponymous Moroccan coastal city.

"Here's looking at you kid." What American over the age of 30 doesn't know that line?

Then there's the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young hit Marrakesh Express. Love that tune. And according to Wikipedia, the song is based on an actual train ride Graham Nash took to the city of Marrakesh while vacationing in Morocco.

I was surprised to learn that Tara Kitchen is run by a husband and wife team of Indian, and Pakistani descent. She lived for a time in NYC. He, a transplanted Pakistani living in Morocco. When she was vacationing there, they met, fell in love, and married. It's a fascinating story, and I recommend you read it.

And if the food in Morocco is as good as it is at Tara Kitchen, I need to get there. ASAP.

I'm ashamed to admit I've only been to Tara Kitchen twice. The first time more than 2 years ago, in October of 2013. I remember how delicious my meal was, and after seeing that she sells many of the sauces used in the restaurant, I remember asking the owner which ones I should take home with me.

I finally got back to Tara Kitchen the other night, and it was just as good as I remember, if not better.

Tara starts you off with a small glass of hot tea, with honey and mint. And on a cool November evening, it's a wonderful start to a meal.

A couple of times our Blue Apron meals have included harissa. I've found it to be delicious, and loving spicy foods as much as I do, we started with the Harissa Dip appetizer. Very warm, soft, and flavorful triangles of pita are brought to the table alongside a small dish of harissa. If you've never had harissa, it's basically a thick chili pepper sauce, with herbs, spices, and garlic. The version they make at Tara is very spicy. It was too spicy for my wife, she only had a few bites. But I'm a chili head, and I loved it. It's not just a dish of tongue burning heat though. It's deeply flavorful, and this is the theme that runs through all of Tara's dishes. Flavor, and lots of it.

Harissa Dip

The majority of the entrees are served in tagines. They arrive to the table as basically a cast iron bowl, that's blazing hot just moments off the stove. Our dishes arrived so hot, that we had to wait a few minutes before we could eat them. My wife's tagine was bubbling and sizzling when the waiter set it on the table. As I've said many times on this blog, I loathe lukewarm dishes and crave hot food that's actually served hot, so this was a big deal for me.

My wife ordered Chickpeas with Oranges. It's chickpeas with orange sections, and almonds, in an apricot & prune sauce. I stole her leftovers and had them for lunch the next day. This dish is slightly sweet, but still savory and flavorful. My wife loved it. I loved it. The occasional bite of an orange slice is pleasantly sweet, the slivered almonds add crunch, both nicely balancing the creamy and savory chickpeas.

Chicpeas w/oranges

I ordered the Lamb Meatballs which is lamb meatballs in tomato sauce with two poached eggs. The tomato sauce was delicious. The poached eggs were soft and tender, with a slightly runny yolk. They balanced the toothsome meatballs wonderfully. I hate to be repetitive, but this dish, like everything else we had was absolutely bursting with flavor.

If you've never been to Tara Kitchen, or if you've never had Moroccan food, do get there and try it. The dishes are unique and a nice change from the same old, same old, but more than that, they're just plain delicious.

Lamb Meatballs w/eggs


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the reminder! Schenectady is enough of a drive that we rarely get there, but I've heard from others and now you that we have to get to Tara. We will! Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete