Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

Cooking classes are one of the best ways to get to know a culture.

When I was in Morocco, my riad recommended a baking class at Amal Non-profit, an association dedicated to “empowering women through culinary skills.”

Learning to bake Moroccan goodies and getting to empower women? I was sold!

 

Amal Baking Class

Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

The baking classes at Amal cost 350 dirham per person.

The price includes 2 hours of baking, a mint tea ceremony, working with Moroccan women and a 250g box of pastries to take home.

Classes run from 2-4pm.

You get to choose which pastry you make: gazelle horns, ghriba, beghrir or msemmen. (I recommend googling them ahead of time to pick which one you want to make.)

 

Getting to Amal

The baking class takes place outside of the Medina. You’ll have to catch a cab to get there from the centre of the city.

It doesn’t cost much.

Have your riad or hostel help you get a cab. At Amal, they will call a cab for you before you leave if you ask them to. I gave them about 20 minutes notice before I left so the cab had time to get out to us.

Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

 

My Baking Adventure

I got a solo class by accident since no one else had booked to join me that day. That meant that I got to work with two lovely women: a chef and my English translator, Fatima.

Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

Fatima shared stories with me as the other woman (whose name I have unfortunately forgotten) taught me how to roll the almond ghriba cookies in my palm.

Apparently, I’m very back at making ghriba.

She kept rerolling all of my attempts.

Ghriba are interesting because they are baked on what looks like an upside-down muffin tin. The ghriba are placed on top of the rounded bumps to give them an indent on their bottoms. This seems to also help the top of the cookies crack, which is the distinctive look for the ghriba.

Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

There are no formal recipe cards, which was the only downside of my experience. I would have loved to have a concrete recipe to take home with me. Instead, I wrote down the rough estimates of what we used to be able to try to recreate at home (which I still haven’t done).

Our cookie baking hadn’t taken very long with just one person for them to instruct, so I got to play around with extra dough. Fatima and the chef let me cut out sablis for the kitchen and roll out the dough with what looked like a pasta press.

Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

Again, it turns out I’m not great at this.

Apparently my expert cookie skills were exaggerated during our Christmas cookie baking evenings with my cousins.

With both cookies in the oven, Fatima took me around the grounds to learn more about Amal.

Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

 

 

Amal Non-Profit

The Amal Center works to help disadvantaged women by giving them English lessons and restaurant training. Amal provides women with special skills classes and cooking lessons to help them start careers in the food industry in Morocco. Through 6 month placements, these women are trained to be able to make a living that will allow them to help support their families.

Taking a class with or dining at Amal helps support these endeavours.

Amal has two locations: one in Gueliz and one in Targa. My baking class took place at Targa – their second center.

Fatima took me around Targa to see the major kitchens that are used to serve the restaurant. I got to peek into a classroom where the women are taught special skills, like English. We wandered past a traditional berber mud oven and the outdoor restaurant seating.

The center is a mix of traditional and modern with its berber oven outside and modern ovens inside. It’s an interesting blend of old and new Morocco; much like the women are. These women are traditional Moroccan women who are taking on modern careers in restaurants and hotels to support their families.

The center is a small example of what’s going on throughout Marrakech: the blend of old with the new.

Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

 

Moroccan Mint Tea Ceremony

Amal grows their own herbs in a backyard garden where I was able to handpick mint for my mint tea ceremony.

Fatima sat with me on a Berber carpet to teach me to make the traditional Moroccan mint tea. She taught me how to measure out the ingredients and never to stir the sugar (a mistake I almost made).

Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

The tea is poured into the glass and returned to the pot repeatedly to mix the sugar through the tea.

You are meant to pour the tea from high up to show your respect. If you pour it low, it can be a signal to turn down a marriage offer or snub someone.

With my tea, Fatima served some of the cookies I’d made as well as some extra gazelle horns from the restaurant. After trying the sweet orange-flavoured pastry, I was much happier with my almond cookies.

Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

Fatima and I chatted for a long time about her desire to become a lawyer in Morocco. I munched on cookies while she regaled me with tales of her family.

Fatima is Berber, an indigenous culture in Morocco. They have their own language and are known for their incredible carpet designs. Before I left, Fatima wrote “thank you, Nina” in Berber for me to take with me.

Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit

 

I left Amal with a massive box of cookies and my Berber sign, extremely happy with my experience.

Amal offers the unique ability to interact with Moroccan women in their own domain. I would not have been able to have made such a connection if I hadn’t gone to Amal for my baking class. Even the other cooking class I did inside the Medina lacked the personal touch that Amal has.

The fact that it benefits local women just makes it that much more extraordinary.

During your time in Morocco, check out Amal Non-profit for an incredible baking adventure that also benefits the local community.

If you aren’t into baking, try their cooking class or dine at their restaurant.

No matter what, you’ll get delicious, home-cooked food and be empowering Moroccan women.

 

 

Have you ever done a local cooking class?

 

  

 



40 thoughts on “Baking with Moroccan Women at Amal Non-Profit”

  • A great way to connect to the community and learn more about their culture. And you get cookies to boot! Sounds like a win all around!

  • WHENEVER POSSIBLE, I PREFERRED DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE LOCALS, EVEN IF JUST TO ASK FOR DIRECTIONS. WHILE I DIDN’T GET COOKIES OUT OF IT, A FEW TIMES IT CHANGED SOME STEREOTYPES IN MY MIND.

    THE WORLD COULD BE BETTER IF MORE PEOPLE DID WHAT YOU DID,

  • This is amazing and what I’d love to do when I finally visit Morocco! 250g of cookies?? I’d have to recreate that at home myself because they look delish!

    • They are absolutely amazing. Google some recipes for options! Ghribas can be many flavours. I did another cooking class that had orange flavoured ones. These ground almond and sesame ones were my favourite though 🙂

  • I’ve never taken a cooking class but it’s something I hope to do on my next trip. This class sounds so fun and the mission of the organization makes it even better!

    • You definitely should try a cooking class – or a food tour! In my family, food is one of the most important things (probably tied with travel). Exploring the foods of other cultures is so important to really immerse yourself in it. Almost every country I’ve been to has had options for cool cooking classes. Check out airbnb experiences for some local ones!

  • Taking a cooking class in a new country seems like such a fantastic way to learn about the culture! I hope we can do this with our boys someday- they love to cook and bake!

    • I highly recommend it! Check out some of the experiences on airbnb for local cooking classes or just google “cooking class in X” to find some cool options. There are definitely child friendly ones around the world 🙂

  • Amazing… I actually had lunch at Amal back in November 2016 when I was in Marrakech for the climate change conference! I didn’t do a cooking class but I read about the place before the trip and thought it was a brilliant cause, and so I had to sneak away from the conference one day to try the food and support it 🙂
    Great to hear about your experience and that the place is still going strong.

  • This is amazing! I love cooking, baking and of course the eating! The last few holidays I try to take a cooking class. This cause is just great and I really want to do it!

  • There are so many reasons this place is so great. Not only do you get to bake delicious food, but you are supporting such a wonderful place. I love that they help disadvantaged women to build them up and help them become more independent. What an amazing experience for you.

  • It is great the kind of work Amal seems to be doing, and a very thoughtful way of raising money by giving baking classes to tourists that allows tourists to learn about their culture (+cookies). Win-win for both, surely.

  • Sounds like such a nice and tasty experience! Love getting to know local food traditions when traveling:) Sounds like the perfect thing for me to do, think I would love the cooking class too:)

  • A great way to immerse yourself in a new culture! Kudos! I really hope you tried to bake these sweets again when you got home! It would make for an interesting Christmas present for family, for instance! 🙂

    • Thanks! I will when I eventually return home. After that trip, I didn’t stay home for long so I had no real chance to make them.

  • The TWO Big Cs!! Cookies and Culture. I LOVED this culture immersive baking therapy that you found. We have stayed couple of times with families in Indian Villages and the entire experience is thoroughly enriching!!

  • What an awesome place! I love the idea that you can learn something and at the same time you will be giving back to the community. I’ll bet those cookies were amazing with the Moroccan mint tea.

  • While for someone attending a course formal recipe cards might be useful, at least you know you worked with a true cook, who learned to to everything by heart and to know the exact weight of what needs to be added just by looking at things. My grandma was that way, her cooking was amazing!

  • Personally, aside from travelling, I also wanted to experience baking. I just love how, everything being made in baking. So, with this post, I’m thinking about attending a baking class soon if I get spare time. Thank you so much for sharing this. You have inspired me actually.

  • I love to explore new cultures, traditions and its food. It would be great take Moroccan cooking class at Amal which is also a non-profit one.

  • Taking a cooking class in a new city or country is such a lovely way to learn more about its culture and food habits. Amal is doing great work here by giving travelers a chance to dive in the culture of Morocco and using the money to empower the local women.

Care to comment?

%d bloggers like this: