EyeSwoon

Moroccan Main2
I’ve always felt a strong magnetic pull towards Morocco. There’s something in the culture – in the sound of the prayers, in the colors and textures of the textiles, in the craftsmanship of the weaving, in the busy organized chaos of the souk and the strong aromatic flavors in the food – that just makes me swoon!

I’ll never forget my first time there. It was an incredibly busy time, Jivan was just three years old and we were gut-renovating and designing our apartment. We had only four nights in Marrakesh and I was determined to make the most of our brief visit. So we didn’t stop, toddler in tow, we absorbed it all! Negotiating all day in the souk on rugs and textiles, while taking in the heavenly scent of the spice market, and falling deeper and deeper in love with all that Morocco had to offer.

We were staying in the most spectacular riad (which translates to garden in Arabic and is a traditional Moroccan house built around an open interior courtyard) that was just breath-taking in design and architecture, richly decorated in both classic and modern details at once – with traditional filigree, tile and stonework and hand-carved wooden doorways juxtaposed against modern brass lanterns. The most wonderful thing about the riad was the amazing family that ran it – cooking for us and making us feel truly at home. I’ll never forget how welcome I felt inside those unassuming walls. My little toddler was in the kitchen cooking with the staff and even though they didn’t share a word of the same language, they were laughing and creating together – food can do this, bring people together and break down barriers!

Our first night we feasted on a homemade Moroccan meal that was a true vegetable tagine. Each bite was a burst of contrasting flavors unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Sweet apricots united with savory vegetables, all tied together with spices I’d never even considered– turmeric, cumin and cinnamon – I was in heaven! This foreign world was welcoming me in wholeheartedly, matching my love of design, food, prayer, family and humility.

By the time I got back to New York I had six rugs in tow! I loved the negotiation process in the souk. Having a ritual tea with the rug dealer (after seeing firsthand the woman who had woven and crafted these stunning spools of colorful wool) and then writing a number on a piece of paper and passing it back and forth until you agreed on a price! Such a civilized tradition conducted while you sip on fresh mint tea! My obsession with deeply saturated and brightly colored Azulik tribe rugs began on this trip and you can see them along with the classic Ben Ourain rugs adorning both my homes.

I made my first attempt at cooking with exotic Moroccan flavors the week I came home from this life-altering trip – experimenting in the kitchen with sweet and spicy flavors…dried nuts, cinnamon, harissa! During that bout of cooking I used only Moroccan flavors and developed the dish that I’m sharing here with you today. When West Elm asked that I share an original Eye-Swoon vegetable recipe to showcase my Schmidt Bros knife skills I knew my Moroccon stew would take center stage! It seemed only fitting to make the dish in a vibrant red-toned cast iron vessel, an homage to the bright colors of Marrakesh, courtesy of West Elm. The dish is so warming, perfectly fitting for this insanely snowy winter. The sweetness of the butternut squash and root vegetables marry so nicely with a mix of Moroccan spices, adding a wonderful layer of depth to the flavor.

So, put on some music while you chop your vegetables. Put the pot on the stove and curl up with your family. Soon your home will be filled with the aromatic goodness of Moroccan love and spices, sending ricochets of exceptional flavors to hit all your senses and make you dream of a trip to a foreign land!

Photography by Winnie Au and shared on the West Elm Blog

shopswoon 

 

Acacia Storage Cutting Board

Acacia Storage Cutting Board

Schmidt Brothers 7-pc Set

Schmidt Brothers 7-pc Set

Azilal Moroccan Rug

Azilal Moroccan Rug

Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Multi-Color Azilal Moroccan Rug

Multi-Color Azilal Moroccan Rug

More swoon