Aubergine couscous salad

This summer I rediscovered once again my obsession with aubergines. Spending almost a month in Greece, the one thing that I consumed every single day was and honestly I never got tired of it. When I came back home I still found myself craving and wanting to have it on a day to day basis. Inspired from my trip to Morocco this year, especially the traditional spice mixture from its cuisine, I created this simple and quick cous cous with aubergine. As most of my recipes it takes almost no time to make, it tastes delicious and you can eat it on its is own or serve it as a side to your main dish. The best thing about it is that it’s budget friendly and you most probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of cous cous

1 large or 2 medium sized Aubergines

Feta cheese(optional)

One bunch of mint leafs

1 lemon

1 tsp. Cumin

1tsp. Paprika

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 cup – walnuts

Olive oil

What to do?

1. Cut the aubergines into round circles and place them on a baking sheet

2. Salt them and let them sit for 15min. – in this way you dry out the moisture and make them taste less bitter

3. After the time has passed brush them with olive oil and place in the 180 preheated oven until ready( 20-25min.)

4. In the meantime mix the half a cup of cous cous with a 1tsp. Olive oil, the zest of one lemon and a few fresh mint leafs

5. Pour hot water over the cous cous mixture and let it sit for around 5 min. or until all the water is absorbed

6. Fluff the cous cous with a fork

7. When your aubergines are already baked, chop them into small pieces and add them to the cous cous

8. Season with your remaining spices, chopped mint leafs, juice of one lemon and generous amount of olive oil

9. Roughly chop the walnuts and add them on top

There you have it! A simple and delicious weekly dinner or lunch idea! Hope you enjoy it!

Carrot and orange soup

Whether you are aware or not, two weeks ago I came back from my Moroccan adventure. Despite the many sights we visited, we also managed to try all kinds of traditional dishes. One soup in particular got my taste buds going mad! We had it served in a beautiful restaurant in the medina in Marrakech and I can still taste the deliciousness of this bowl of soup whenever I think about it. This particular soup was made with pumpkin and orange. At first it sounded like a rather strange combination since it was made with pumpkin and orange, but after taking my first bite, I kept craving more and more. Even after coming back to Sofia, I still wanted to have the lovely soup, so I decided to put my own spin to it and recreate my own version. Because it’s not really pumpkin season, I used carrots and it tasted even better. Even if you are not a fan of soups in general, I can guarantee you that you will most certainly adore this one.

Ingredients:

10 medium sized carrots

1 onion

1 clove garlic

1 tsp thyme

1 orange (zest+juice)

What to do?

1. You start by putting your finely chopped onion into the pot and sweat it off

2. When onion is softened, add the minced garlic

3. Add the thyme and chopped carrots to the pot

4. Cover with water and let it simmer until your carrots are soft enough

5. Either use a hand mixer or just put everything in your blender and pulse until it is all well-mixed

6. Move back to the pot and add the juice and zest of your orange, salt and pepper

Voilá! That was is it. I personally also like to top it off with some roasted pumpkin seeds for some extra crunch. As you can see the soup literally requires a few basic ingredients, but tastes magnificently.

Moroccan adventure. (part 1) – 24hours in Marrakech

Two days ago I came back from one of the most exciting and unforgettable trips in my life. For my 18th birthday I wanted to do something special. My best friend Rumi, my parents and I wanted to experience what the country of Morocco hides. We stayed in the oriental paradise for a week in total and traveled more than 600km. For me Morocco was a journey to discovering a whole new world full with vibrant culture and enriched history. Every day we stopped at a different city or town in order to make the most of our short stay and fill it with as many fun activities and beautiful sights as possible. The first stop of our Moroccan route was the famous city Marrakech or as otherwise known the pink city (since all the buildings are in pink). Marrakech is the perfect mix between authenticity and modernism and that’s why it is the country’s most preferred city by tourists and locals. With just a 2 day stay planned for our visit there, here is how our 24 hours in Marrakech looked like.

11:00 – Le jardin Majorelle – We kick started our day off with this beautiful green paradise from the 1920s. Planted with more than 300 different plants and trees from all around the globe, this breathtaking oasis left me in awe. Honestly I had never seen something as stunning and aesthetically pleasing for the eye in my life. All the colorfully painted buildings contrasting with the different nuances of leafy green make this whole garden a magnificent piece of art. You could never guess that such a hectic and loud city as Marrakech can hide an entire hidden oasis behind some walls. I really do recommend you booking tickets in advance since Jardin Majorell is one of the city’s most famous sights and the wait can get pretty annoying.

2ca94cbe-3bed-4aa5-ada5-b4c27ab5c4f000d656ed-5e30-469f-9110-101b4c5e9efa

73dfa90d-cb60-4c20-bb12-9db8f8b417ec

12:00 – After walking and enjoying our time in the calming gardens we headed next door to the well-known museum of one of the world’s best designer brands-YSL. For those of you who are not aware, the fashion designer spent a lot of time in Marrakech and that was his influence for many of his most successful fashion pieces. 50 years after his first visit in 1966 this modern house has now been turned into a museum, dedicated to the  work of the fashion legend. Looking carefully you can notice that the outside is supposed to evoke weft and wrap fabric, while the inside evokes the lining of a couture jacket. The rooms in the house are filled with inspiring design pieces and explain a more about the life and career of YSL himself. Even if you are not a fashion guru, the museum by all means is a sight worth seeing, even if it is just to admire its mesmerizing architecture and breathtaking interior.

cad56d93-9193-4ed7-b3a9-052b12819487-1

a dress from the exhibition

the entryway

13:30 – After doing some cultural sightseeing in the more civil part of Marrakech we headed to the old town (the medina). Surrounded by crowds of people, shops with cheeky traders, bikes and mopeds, we wandered in the streets for a few hours. Thanks to our awesome tour guide we even got the opportunity to visit some of the local firms and learn how carpets and cosmetics are being made. Since Morocco is known for its craftsmen and handmade goodies I was very intrigued to see how all those things were actually made. We also bought a bunch of small souvenirs, spices and for a second almost a carpet, so I warn you to keep in mind that you easily may end up buying a lot of unnecessary things. Also don’t hesitate to bargain since most of the traders will probably give you a higher price just because they recognized you are a tourist.

6b9e2a71-0880-400a-a877-ab21c1e78864-1
spices sold at the medina
9129c7be-d096-40ef-b7c1-78706d7a0b5d-1
carpet firm

9ef21c52-285e-489a-9673-4693e68c25c8-1

bread stored at the local bakery

15:00 – Around that time we realized we were starving, so we sat at Terrasse des épices . Since it was a roof top restaurant we enjoyed our incredibly delicious Moroccan lunch while looking at the medina from above. Following getting full with all the oriental dishes from the menu we still wanted to go somewhere and try the well known drink of Moroccan – mint tea. The perfect place for sipping on some tea and escaping a bit from the hustle and bustle of the old town are the so called “Riads”. Translated from Arabic it means a large traditional house built around a central courtyard. However in the last few years most of the Riads left in the medina are turned into hotels, guesthouses or even shops. First we went to Jurdin Secret – a very big Riad renovated in the 20th century and works as a museum now. The courtyard holds two big stunning gardens and is perfect for taking nice pictures. Afterwards we headed to Riad Palais Sebban to relax for a bit and finally drink some of this magical tea. The space has actually three Riads inside with a shared pool and restaurant. It even has a big rooftop where you can sunbath and are gifted with a panoramic view of Marrakech.

ff2a1d13-7c27-4f2e-a9ff-ef43b8e3a9a9

le jardin secret

17:00 – Palais de la Bahia – Our next stop was Palais de la Bahia(the kings palace), which is now turned into a museum and is open for visitors all year round. There we really felt what it feels like to be a royalty in the monarchy. Probably the thing that I liked the most there was the calming blue colors of the walls inside and the several spacious courtyards.

2b9feab6-35f4-4fa0-aa16-3683a26be094

19:30 – Before going back to our hotel we had only one last stop left and that was Jemaa el-Fnaa . We wanted to experience the city at night as locals, so that is why we headed to the main square for dinner. We went there at sunset in order to see how the market changes during the day compared to the night. Same as in the medina it was full with all kinds of people. Despite the surrounding chaos I found the whole experience very entertaining. All around us there were locals dressed in traditional costumes, ladies insisting on painting your hands with Henna. There were men holding monkeys and snakes and then putting them on a random walking tourists’ head, just for a picture. Keep in mind that most of the Moroccans at the market are poor, so keep your belongings close to you at all time and don’t forget that even a picture with a monkey costs money. After fooling around with the locals we finally went to my favorite part of the day – the food market. There you can find everything from fresh fruit and veggies to food stalls offering all sorts of traditional and exotic meals. I was even brave enough to try snails, which honestly tasted better than they looked.

83eff405-f265-4c34-ac5e-fa1d8549e7b9
the snails

a1265d23-0b40-4731-88be-dfecd199c0b8

89c98837-9f14-4f76-be88-676d0f02f6b6
me and my new best friend

5d2bd6da-c7fc-4f99-b44f-ea0eb7e10bd6

Well, after our day full with activities we went to bed exhausted and got ready for the early morning call.

To be continued…

Where we ate? –

Moroccan feast at the terrasse

p.s hope you liked the post, part 2 is coming up next Thursday