Chicken Tagine in the Berber Town of Imlil

A pre-booked day trip with a Berber guide named Said had us touring a female-owned argan oil cooperative, hiking in the Atlas Mountains and riding one-humped dromedaries out in the Agafay Desert. Somewhere along the way we visited our guide’s parents’ house in Imlil, where we enjoyed mint tea (expertly poured from a height) while chatting about Berber culture and lifestyle. Back in the van, I joked to Ben about catching a stray bullet in the chest like Cate Blanchett did in the movie Babel. I instead received my karmic retribution in the form of a sand fly bite in the neck, which swelled and itched for just a few hours but was fine by the time we returned to Marrakech.

For lunch, we stopped by at Riad Oussagou whose restaurant included a dining room covered in gorgeous tile, as well as outdoor spaces for those ballsy enough to brave the early September temperatures. To start, we had a fresh little cucumber and tomato salad, sprinkled with lemon juice. Next came a tagine of chicken, our first of many tagines on this trip.

It was delicious, made with fresh ingredients and seasoned just enough. Tender chunks of chicken (two thighs, two wings and some white meat) were covered under a colorful blanket of seasonal vegetables. There were big, beautiful slices of juicy tomato, some al dente carrots, soft zucchini, succulent pieces of kohlrabi, some onion too, all cooked together in a way that the chicken took on the flavors of the surrounding veg. The mound of food was sprinkled with black pepper, some spices and freshly chopped chives, but rather minimally seasoned to retain a very clean, mild taste. A great lunch with which to recharge after a particularly active day of sightseeing in the Atlas Mountains.

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