When we first started looking at booking accommodation for our stay in Marrakech, K and I spent some time deliberating whether to stay in a resort-style hotel complete with infinity pool or a more authentic family-run riad with traditional Moroccan furnishings. Naturally the riad won out and we booked ourselves in for a stay at Riad Shaloma, situated right in the rabbit warren-esque alleyways of old Marrakech. We had a great stay, with a nice courtyard room, daily breakfast, and many late afternoons spent on the sun lounges on the rooftop terrace.
On our first evening, we also decided to save ourselves the hassle of going out in search of dinner and had a home-cooked meal at the riad instead. The table was set up nicely in the courtyard next to the rose petal covered fountain, lit by candlelight of course for that additional romantic touch.
A basket of Moroccan bread (khoubz) to go with our meal. This is a daily bread in Marrakech, sold everywhere and baked at home as well. It’s used to accompany meals as well as for sandwiches. Watching the street sellers make khoubz is fascinating as it’s cooked on a hot plate rather than in the oven, and takes only about five minutes to cook. Buying one fresh off the hotplate when it’s still warm is a real treat, but this cold version wasn’t bad either!
We started our meal with a bowl of ‘navet‘ soup, made of turnip with just a hint of carrot to sweeten the soup. Mostly though, the flavour comes from the healthy dash of cumin and ras el hanout blend in the soup. It’s quite a thick and hearty soup, and very good with the Moroccan bread dipped into it.
Our main meal was chicken brochettes with pilaf rice – tender marinated chicken pieces grilled to smoky perfection. K loved the chicken, but I loved the pilaf rice even more. Rich, buttery, savoury, herbed and spiced…deeeeelicious! Served with a side salad of fresh baby cos lettuce and grilled green peppers, it was a wonderfully hearty Moroccan dish – while not traditional like a tajine, it was just a little bit tastier with the smoky flavours.
Our dessert was chocolate crepes – not Nutella or Eurocrem crepes, but good old traditional crepes with the type of rich chocolate sauce I used to drizzle on vanilla ice-cream. Unfortunately, the crepe wasn’t quite as thin and crispy as I like them to be and was a bit underdone by my reckoning.
We finished off our meal with a Moroccan mint tea – something you have to get used to drinking if you’re planning on visiting Marrakech at any point in your life! Mint tea is served everywhere to all guests – on arrival at a hotel, after a meal, if you drop into a shop to browse their wares, before and after you have a beauty treatment at a hammam…it’s a sign of respect for the guest, so don’t ever shame your hosts by turning down a cup of mint tea!
Riad Shaloma is a great place to stay while in Marrakech. It’s far enough from the main square to ensure that you get a quiet night’s sleep, yet not so far that you’re away from the action. Located deep within the old part of the city in a residential neighborhood, you get to really enjoy local life as you buy pastries from the bakery and drinks from the convenience store with local kids running up to you with a friendly ‘bonjour’.
While they serve a simple continental breakfast morning, their home-cooked Moroccan dinners is where they really shine. It only costs 15 Euro per person, so stay in the riad one night rather than venturing out, and have dinner in the courtyard before moving upstairs to the rooftop terrace for a few drinks in the moonlight.
Riad Shaloma is located at 120 Bis, Derb Ahl Souss, Berrima, Medina in Marrakech.