201 - Boujadi's Marvellous Moroccan Fare
By Mary Luz Mejia
Few Moroccan restaurants in the Toronto area come close to infusing their food with as much enthusiasm and exuberance as Boujadi Moroccan Restaurant. Chef/owner Charles Obadia tells me “the food speaks to me,” and you know, it really does. How does a former cabinet-maker prepare such classic Moroccan mouth-watering dishes with the finesse and subtlety of a seasoned pro? By listening to what the food is asking for, of course, and by employing cherished family recipes passed down to him from his parents.
Take Boujadi’s Medina Tajine, for example, a wonderfully fulfilling and healthy meal served in an earthenware dish with a distinctive cone-shaped lid. The serving dish, by the way, is also called a tajine. Fragrant and aromatic, a tajine is a Mediterranean stew, in this case redolent with saffron and fresh coriander, with a spicy onion and tomato sauce over chicken, chicken livers or homemade meatballs. A "Medina" is the heart of any Moroccan town or city. Comprised of many labyrinthine corridors, it centres on the souk or central market - and it’s the best place to find a rainbow of cooking spices. This stew’s flavours are as complex as the alleyways of home, and when served over fluffy couscous, complete a dish that’s sure to satisfy.
But before you take the main course plunge, consider Charles’ “Marhaba” (or welcome) appetizer platter for your table. Some of the most beloved Moroccan savoury starters are served on a sizable plate which includes couscous, homemade merguez lamb sausage, a potato and herb phyllo triangle, and the wedding and Bar Mitzvah favourite, a cigar-shaped phyllo pastry stuffed with spicy ground meat.
Just like the town it’s named after, the food at Boujadi is meant to be enjoyed leisurely, without any modern-day rushes or stresses. Charles assures me that his food tastes better savoured slowly, so just like the chef who takes his culinary cue from his food, I listen and am rewarded.
photo credit: Mary Luz Mejia