Marrakesh Cooking Class : Master A Moroccan Tagine In The Medina

Created by Colleen Sims | Updated : 25 January 2024 |

Looking for some activities beyond sightseeing in Marrakesh? We loved our Moroccan Tagine Cooking Class.

During our stay in Marrakesh we wanted a few unique experiences and a quick search revealed a cooking class.  Gerry loves a cooking class and you’re looking to discover the soul of a new destination then you can usually find it in a kitchen.

There are a few choices available but we opted to learn how to make a traditional Moroccan Tagine.

a selection of the spice we used during our marrakesh tagine cooking class

Unlocking the Flavours of Morocco: Mastering the Tagine

A few years ago our French neighbours gave us two tagines.  We’d never used them.  During our visit to Granada in Spain we ordered a Chicken and Prune Tagine for dinner and Gerry was totally sold. Since then he’s always wanted to learn how to use ours. 

So whilst scanning the list of things to do, a Marrakesh Cooking Class jumped off the page. You’d learn to cook a tagine from scratch. That was enough for Gerry and we booked.

Moroccan vegetable tagine ready to cook with layers of sliced vegetables and spice; nwe made this during our Marrakech
Fruits of our labour : We made this tagine

Marrakesh Cooking Class: Unleash Your Inner Chef

In the heart of the bustling Marrakesh medina lives Chef Laila and her daughter.  According to the tour details, she promised to accompany us to the market, teach us about traditional herbs and spices and get us cooking up a storm (or a 3-course lunch at least) from her kitchen. 

Apparently, at the end of this adventure, we’d be able to conjure up a tagine fit for a sultan.    

★★★★★

MARRAKESH COOKING CLASS

We did this cooking class and loved it. You get to visit the market, get hands-one and prepare and cook (and eat) a full 3-course lunch. It’s great fun and you get the recipes to take home.

Who Is Chef Laila?

We had no idea if Chef Laila was a real chef.  We read the reviews of her class and decided that hundreds of 5* recommendations couldn’t be wrong.

Having completed the course we learned that Laila has been cooking professionally for over 30 years and she knows her spice and certainly knows her Moroccan food.  She genuinely taught us how to make some truly delicious dishes that we’ll definitely try to recreate at home.

Growing up in the Medina, no doubt with recipes handed down by her grandmother’s grandmother, her infectious enthusiasm made for a fabulous day. 

If you’re interested in learning about Moroccan food in an informal atmosphere, then join in and let her guide you on a journey through the tastes and traditions of a Moroccan kitchen.

Colleen and Gerry with Chef Laila during our Marrakesh Cooking Class

Haggling in the Souk: What’s Included In The Market Visit?

Are you like us?  Do you hate haggling in markets?  Wherever we travel there’s always a market! From India to Peru, we always end up paying too much; even for a fridge magnet.

Well, get ready to unleash your inner haggler in the markets of the Medina. Our visit took us through the maze of colourful stalls and we tried (and failed) to haggle like a local.

Laila pointed out the different fresh ingredients that we’d need and introduced us to the aroma and tastes of the herbs and spices that we’d be using. 

What Will You Cook Beyond Couscous And Tagines?

Beyond the iconic tagine, Morocco boasts a treasure trove of culinary delights. We’re big fans of North African cuisine and I probably add Raz Al Hanout to far too many dishes when cooking at home.

Laila’s class menu does change depending on the season, the fresh produce that is available and the group who are cooking, but for us there was to be a whole host of dishes to cook. Our menu included :

  • Zaalouk
  • Berber salad
  • Pastilla de legumes
  • Zucchini charmoula
  • Vegetable couscous
  • Potato salad
  • Tomato salad
  • Cucumber salsa
  • Chicken and a vegetarian tagine with preserved lemons
  • Caramelised carrots
  • Orange al la cannelle

And we learned how to make the famous Moroccan tea, how to make and prepare dishes like tangy chicken tagine with preserved lemons, sweet-and-savory carrots and we learned how to tell our cumin from our coriander. I also learned that Raz Al Hanout is actually a blend of up to 36 different spices and any Moroccan chef worth their salt will mix and blend their own.

buying fresh produce from the markets in the Medina in Marrakesh

What’s Included In The Marrakesh Cooking Class?

Every cookery class in Marrakesh no doubt offers a similar packages.  For us, we met in a small Spa lobby a minutes walk from Laila’s Kitchen.  We were joined by 6 other would-be chefs from across the globe and our class included :

  • Our own chef and her daughter to guide us
  • A visit to the market for fresh ingredients                                      
  • All the ingredients needed to create a full 3-course meal
  • The equipment and cooking tools needed
  • Aprons and workspace for everyone on the course
  • Pdf recipes sent to us after the course to use at home
  • A 3-course lunch with our fellow classmates after the cooking

How Do You Prepare? Prepare to Get Hands-On!

This is not passive cooking class or demonstration so do get ready to roll up your sleeves and dive in. 

After our shopping and tea and were handed our aprons and immediately set to work peeling vegetables. Once we’d peeled it was time to chop. I found it odd that we had to cut out the heart/middle of a carrot, which I’ve never done before and I’m not sure we’ll do this at home? Does anyone else do this?

The vegetables were for the tagine itself but there were also many vegetable side dishes which they referred to as salads; such as baby courgettes, carrot and aubergine. 

We learned how to make Moroccan mayonnaise which reminded me very much of Chimichurri sauce and we learned how to make preserved lemons. Gerry loves preserved lemons so we’ll be doing this when we get home, not least because it takes at least 2 months for them to be ready but they’re at their best after 5 years!

You’ll chop and peel and prep and add ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, pepper and plenty of Raz al Hanout.  You’ll mince and grate and layer and build and knead and simmer and then you’ll wait for it all to cook.

The Tagine: What Exactly Is It?

We were going to learn how to cook a tagine (which is sometimes called a tajine). This is the name of both the pot and the dish.  We’ve have had two of these earthenware pots sat on our shelf for a decade and never really known what to do with them. 

Tagine is derived from the Berber word ṭajin which means shallow earthen pot.  The pots were traditionally placed on hot coals and open fires where dishes could be slow-cooked.  It’s been in use since the 9th century at least, but probably much much longer.

We’ve eaten a tagine most days since we arrived in Marrakesh and it would be fair to say that we’ve been a tad disappointed with some.  When I imagine a tagine, I imagine spice and deep flavours and this has been lacking in some of the dishes we’ve eaten. 

Today though during the class we learned why and we learned how to ensure that we got the very most flavour from of our food; using the right spice and the best ingredients are key.

two earthenware Moroccan tagines

Can Vegetarian And Special Diets Be Included?

Yes.  You’ll be asked before the shopping if you have allergies or special diets.

Top Tip : The cooking class is inclusive but do reach out to Chef Laila when you book your class. Tell her about any dietary requirements in advance as this will help with her meal planning.

Certainly, for me Gluten Free wasn’t an issue.  There was couscous on the menu but served and prepared separately and as there was so much food I never felt that I’d missed out. 

How Long Is The Cooking Class?

This is sold as a half day experience but ours was over 4 hours long; and the time flies. We met at 10am but by the time we’d eaten and said our goodbyes it was well past 2pm.

The class was never rushed and we really enjoyed the experience, including the down time drinking tea and chatting with our fellow travellers. 

Do I Need To Bring Anything?

Just a healthy appetite and an adventurous spirit. Everything else is provided. 

You may wish to bring some water, although refreshments were offered. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes and remember to bring a camera; I took a lot of photos!

Are Recipes Provided To Take Home?  

Yes. The recipes were sent to us via WhatsApp whilst we were eating.  But if you didn’t receive them they will happily send then via email too.

I contacted Laila with a question from home a few weeks after the course and she quickly responded which was really kind.

No Prior Culinary Experience Needed : Beginners Are Welcome

The class is designed for beginners.  I mean Gerry was one of her star pupils so that will give you an idea of the level (sorry Ger).

After we posted our photos on Facebook, a friend got in touch to say that she had taken the same class with her kids; so clearly the course is suitable for all. 

If you’re a kitchen novice or a seasoned gourmand I’m sure you’ll gain something from the day.  Bring a smile and a willingness to dive in and you’ll have a great time.

How Much Does The Cooking Class Cost?  

For us this was a budget friendly class.  We travel a lot and we do have to watch the pennies.

Our class was 30€ each and the meal was so good you’d have happily paid that in a good restaurant in town.  We felt it represented incredible value for money for such a hands-on experience. 

★★★★★

MARRAKESH COOKING CLASS

We did this cooking class and loved it. You get to visit the market, get hands-one and prepare and cook (and eat) a full 3-course lunch. It’s great fun and you get the recipes to take home.

Is The Course In English?

Oui, Bien Sur!   Laila can converse in English, French and Arabic.  We were surprised by how much French is still widely used in Marrakesh but we also found English was spoken everywhere.

Language was no barrier and our class was in English.

plates of food including some of the dishes we made on our Marrakesh cooking class

What Other Cookery Courses Are Available In Marrakesh?

There are other classes available in Marrakesh and beyond, some are aimed at more advanced students and some more immersive.  If you are looking for something different take a look at these options :

Is It Worth Taking A Cooking Class In Marrakesh?

Was it worth it? The answer is a resounding yes! We loved this class.  The only cooking class that we’ve taken since that matches this one, was our class in Ubud in Bali.  This was such a good value activity.

We loved the short excursion into the Medina, picked up some great tips for making preserves and mixing spice at home and of course we loved the recipes. 

Rich deep flavours and floral scents really brought our tagines to life and was everything that we love about north African cuisine.  Seriously, it would have been worth paying just for the meal, but in addition we had a few hours of cooking lesson to boot.

Gerry had wanted to take this class and he gave it full marks. If you’re looking for something a little different then book a spot!

sacks of dried herbs in the medina of marrakech

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Whenever you travel, you should have a great travel and medical insurance policy.  None of us expect anything bad to happen, but in the event of an incident, you want to be sure that your insurance will be there for you.

I’ve ended up in hospital in Peru, Indonesia, Portugal, Japan and Ireland! Every time my insurance took care of everything. I would never leave home without full and comprehensive insurance.

TrueTraveller : We have this policy and we are very happy with the cover, especially considering our ages and pre-existing conditions.

Globelink : We have used and recommended Globelink for years and we’ve not heard of any issues. They are a great choice for European and UK Residents.

Safety Wing : Many of my travelling buddies from the USA have recommended this company to me, although we’ve not used them personally.

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Colleen in Salamanca on the Via de la Plata

Hey I’m Colleen. I’m married to Gerry, we’ve three fabulous kids and been living in France for almost two decades. I fell in love with Spain in the 1980s and I’ve walked 1000s of miles along the Camino de Santiago. Now we’re exploring and walking the world and I can’t wait to share what we’ve learned!

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