This cookbook will take you on a culinary journey through the valley Oued el Maleh near Casablanca. You will meet the women who have provided the recipes for their special dishes in this cookbook and learn more about the ingredients they use. If you are fortunate enough to visit the valley, you will find these women selling prepared food at their roadside stands, and you will be able to taste the delightful flavors of their food yourself. The required fresh and processed ingredients can also be bought directly from local women at their roadside stands. They offer products from diverse small scale agricultural production throughout the valley. For those who do not have direct access to the Valley, similar ingredients needed for these recipes are usually available in today’s supermarkets.
This cookbook evolved during the course of the research project “Urban Agriculture as an integrative element of climate efficient urban development, Casablanca, Morocco” from 2008-2014 This project is part of the broader research program “Future Megacities” which was initiated and sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
One of the four pilot projects took place in the valley Oued El Maleh close to Mohammedia and focused on creating links between tourism and agriculture close to the city. The Institute of Social Sciences in Agriculture at the University of Hohenheim, Germany, and the Prince Sidi Mohammed School of Agricultural Management and Commerce in Mohammedia, Morocco, were the joint coordinators of the project. The pilot project was designed to work together with small scale farming families to find ways to improve their income by linking their agricultural activities with local tourism while still maintaining their local heritage. Traditionally the valley has been a place for city dwellers to visit on the weekends for recreation. Selling agricultural products and prepared food to visitors is an important source of income for many women in the valley. The goal of the work with these women was to improve their earning potential.
The cookbook is based on extensive talks between Danija Krieg (née Begic) and the local women who contributed to this book which took place in the spring and autumn of 2012. Together with her interpreter Hanan Hilal, Danija sat down with these women and listened to the stories of their life in the valley. Danija also learned how important food, herbs and spices are for them, and how they prepare their food. Cooking together with a group of women in their homes, various recipes were tried out and instructions for making them were carefully written down. The pictures were taken at these cooking sessions.
The final book has two major sections: a description of the main ingredients (vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, as well as dairy products, meat and eggs) which are produced and processed in the valley including their nutrient content and health benefits; and, in ten chapters, recipes for various occasions. In this way the cookbook is designed to promote the local products of Oued El Maleh with an emphasis on the healthy aspects and lifestyle of the local inhabitants. It is hoped that the cookbook will make the valley’s food heritage better known to those living outside the valley and help them appreciate its unique aspects as compared to other areas of Morocco. As a record of this heritage, this cookbook is also a way of preserving this heritage for future generations. We are deeply grateful to the women who participated in this project and were so willing to share their knowledge.