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  • Writer's picturethisfoodbangz

Yasmin- Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

On Episode 12, we’re keeping it local and venturing just down the road to Yasmin's lovely home in Maida Vale, Northwest London. With spices she sourced straight from Morocco, Yasmin made us a BANGIN lamb and prune tagine and taught us a thing or two about Moroccan culture and cuisine, and the Gnawa people.

First, a little about our amazing hostess Yasmin. Born and raised in Northweezy (that’s right! Local n that!), she spent countless summers in her family’s hometown of Larache, a port city on the Northern coast of Morocco. Her time there proved integral in shaping Yasmin’s sense of self. Spend more than a minute around Yasmin and you’ll know how proud she is to be North African, to be Moroccan, and to be of Gnawa heritage.

She shared with us a wealth of knowledge about Morocco and gave us an intimate and personal look at how the North African slave trade shaped (and continues to shape) Moroccan culture today. The Gnawa, the ethnic group from which Yasmin descends, has its roots in the slave trade. Over centuries, people originally from sub-Saharan West Africa were enslaved and placed in indentured servitude and became part and parcel of Moroccan society. Considered a separate ethnic group today, the Gnawa are associated with a unique culture, religious and spiritual order, and genre of music that bears their name. Yasmin explained at every celebration in Morocco you are bound to find a Gnawa band.

With Gnawa beats on a loop in the background, we got to taste some of that culture. We walked in and Yasmin poured us a glass of Moroccan mint tea—the Moroccan way. The silver tea pot was at least 2 feet above our glasses and a nice layer of bubbles topped our tea. Before she got to cooking, she made us m’smen, sometimes called rghaif, a buttery flaky bread which we dipped in honey. Moroccan hospitality is not a joke (don't jealous us). And then we headed into the kitchen, and sh** got real.

Yasmin has extensive experience sourcing ingredients from Morocco for chefs and restaurateurs here in London. Be on the lookout for her newest venture in the spice trade! And let me tell you, she doesn’t just have A spice cabinet---she’s got spices ERRYWHERE. When the spices are stored in old coffee tins and jam jars, you better know that is one serious cook. She took down about 10 spice jars and had bundles of fresh herbs, dried prunes, lamb, onion, and sesame seeds on hand.

After methodically marinating the lamb and layering the ingredients into the clay tagine, the smells coming from the kitchen were unreal. No descriptors do it justice. Onion, cinnamon, sweet sticky caramelized prunes, savoury lamb, the distinctive smell of roasted sesame seeds…Wow. That’s all I can say. The lamb was so so tender it fell apart. We had to be schooled on how to eat a tagine. Don’t EVER think a tagine is eaten with couscous. Bread. Always bread. Yasmin made that clear. We were also treated to a side salad of roasted peppers and onions and za’alouk, a dish made with chili, garlic, tomato and fried aubergine (it hurts this American not to type eggplant). THIS FOOD BANGED x 10000000.

As we dove into the tagine, we dug deeper into Yasmin’s love for Morocco and her life here in London. And we explored questions we all think about from time to time, ‘where is home? What does home mean?’ She explained that, for her, as a child of immigrant parents, ‘home’ is a hard concept to pin down, but it’s easy to answer where home is just the same. Tune in and hear more about Yasmin’s take on the complexity of her understanding of ‘home.’ Her sense of self is unshakable. That much is evident.

If you can’t tell by her inviting smile, Yasmin is a fun, energetic, and SPICY WOMAN! There wasn’t a dull moment in her company. This was an educational and enjoyable episode to film. Sharing a meal with new friends is food for the soul. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

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