Dance & Dish: Moroccan Dance and Cooking Class

July 11, 2020


For my 40th birthday years ago I gave myself a gift. I went to Morocco for 5 weeks to volunteer teaching English to refugees at a cooking school while living with a family in Rabat. It was such a precious experience, meeting young people from other parts of French-speaking Africa who had come to Morocco seeking a better life.

While their goal was to get to Europe, they found themselves there being trained in the culinary arts by an organization set up to help arriving immigrants and refugees find work. Those running the organization spoke Arabic, but it was important for the newcomers to learn English for the restaurant and tourism industry.

I stayed with a lovely couple who cooked me homemade food, including vegetable and chicken tagines, and vegetable couscous every Friday, as was tradition.  I learned how to make these traditional meals (though my host opted for store-bought couscous rather than making it from scratch the traditional way).  I visited Fes, an ancient city known for its culinary delights, as well as Marrakesh and Essaouira. During this trip, I was only able to scratch the surface of this complex and beautiful land, and I hope to go back someday.

My relationship with Morocco, however, began two decades before, when I was a student of Moroccan dance with dance folklorist  Katarina Burda, director of Aywah! Ethnic Dance Company.  A lifelong student of dance with a budding interest in world cultures, I pursued a B.A. in Dance Ethnology and World Music, followed by an M.A. in East-West Psychology, and continued to study, perform and teach traditional dance from the greater Middle East and Central Asia.  Much later, my passions guided me towards the art and craft of cooking.

I’m looking forward to combining my love for dance, music, food, and culture for the first of a series of dance and cooking classes featuring regional cuisines and expressive arts from around the world. For decades I’ve studied the history of dance, fascinated by how cultures blend and intermingle, creating new artistic forms shaped from the dynamics of history.  Art history can spark an appreciation for the grand story of the human experience. The same, of course, can be said of food!

Here’s what’s on the menu:

Moroccan Vegetables with Tempeh and Quinoa

1- pkg Tempeh- sliced (Alive and Healing Tempeh)
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp oil grapeseed or other oil
1 onion chopped cone #2
2 garlic cloves chopped
2 carrots sliced on cone #4
2 stalk celery sliced
1 tbsp ginger minced
½ tsp paprika
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp turmeric
2 cups cooked quinoa
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
1 cup roasted tomatoes
1 can chick peas drained
1 zucchini sliced
½ cup parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
1. Preheat electric oil core skillet to 350, add oil.
2. Sprinkle the tempeh with salt and pepper. Put the tempeh in the pan and brown well.
3. Add the onion, celery & carrot and zucchini cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
4. Stir in the tomatoes, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and ginger. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
5. Stir in remaining spices.
6. Cover and cook, until the vegetables are almost done, about 10 minutes.
7. Stir in cooked quinoa & parsley & chickpeas & sun dried tomatoes.

from Foodture Vegan Saladmaster blog

Pistachio Cardamom Cake

1/2 c unsalted butter (or Miyoko’s vegan butter)
3/4 c sugar (or other sweetener)
3 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 c couscous
1/2 t cardamon
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/2 c unsalted pistachios plus 12 whole pistachios
1/2 c nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 c water
1/4 c sugar
1 t lemon zest
1 T lemon juice

Adapted from:  Moosewood Restaurants New Classics Cookbook