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The Perfect Afternoon in Notting Hill

Even for the lifelong Londoners among us, there are pockets of our great city that we simply don’t give the full attention they deserve. This is the case either due to London’s vast, sprawling nature which makes it difficult to make each of its vibrant, interesting and/or quaint districts our own, or simply because our busy schedules get in the way of our exploring. While walking to Zayane the other day I thought to myself what a shame it is that many of our customers journey to the one-of-a-kind Notting Hill just to feast at Zayane. Not that I’m not delighted for their custom and flattered that my customers believe my restaurant is so good it is worth journeying to, but instead my train-of-thought was more that

I wanted to help Zayane’s existing and prospective customers embrace the multitude of wonders and treasures Notting Hill offers to enhance their Moroccan culinary experience.

With this in mind, Joe and I put our heads together to come up with what we would imagine as the perfect afternoon in Notting Hill.

Zayane Notting Hill

Portobello Road

 

Your fabulous day out begins on Portobello Road, which is considered by many to be London’s premier district for antique shopping, of course, aside from being one of the loveliest places to take a stroll in London or anywhere else in the world. On a slow day, this famous street is lined with a range of compelling and cosy shops selling antiques and vintage clothing, as well as old books and records. Not only are they brilliant for meandering through but if you choose to buy something, not only will it be a noteworthy artifact to enrich your home, style or brain, you’ll also be supporting the businesses that make Portobello Road the special place that it is. But get this: if you can make Saturday your afternoon of fun, your Portobello Road experience will become exponentially more rewarding as it is the day of what is dubbed ‘the world’s largest antiques market’!

 

The Porchester Spa

After the benevolent mayhem of Portobello Road, time to relax, unwind and build up your appetite for the Moroccan feast to follow at Zayane. The Porchester Spa is my favourite in London not just because it is within walking distance of Zayane, but because it offers one of London’s great escapes into a world of peace and tranquility within an art deco maze of steam rooms, Jacuzzis, Turkish hot rooms, saunas and a cold plunge pool. Not only that but there is a large swimming pool ideal for swimming laps and a chilled out relaxing room in which to enjoy a novel, some music or even some shut-eye. Of course, the Porchester offers a range of rejuvenating and reinvigorating treatments. One word of caution – each day caters to exclusively male or female patrons, so if you are travelling in a mix gender entourage, those excluded from the Porchester can drown their sorrows with a beverage and cake at the alarmingly amazing Chaya Teahouse.

Notting Hill best Restaurants

The Main Event

At this point your belly and palate are calling out or something delicious to sate and please it – Joe and I have you covered at Zayane. Our cuisine is authentic Moroccan with a modern twist and we’ve been recognised for our excellence as we are the only UK Moroccan restaurant included in the Michelin Guide. Our a la carte menuoffers a gourmet experience and it is very vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. You can also take advantage of our Gourmet Moroccan Summer Dining menu offer– 2 courses with a glass of wine for only £18.

 

Joe and I would like to invite you to enjoy London’s finest Moroccan restaurant this August (and beyond) and we sincerely hope that you take our advice and get to know to spectacular Notting Hillwhilst you do so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe: Chicken (Tagine) Day

When I was a child, ‘chicken day’ was a most special day. It meant that my whole family – 2 adults and 6 children – would feast on a fragrant chicken tagine.

We would devour it with utter delight, licking our fingers at the end so as not to miss out on even a microscopic bit of the goodness. The tagine – along with the side dishes and freshly made Moroccan ‘focaccia-style’ bread – made us one big, happy and smiling family… though not without a bit of Moroccan-spiced chicken jus smattered across our satisfied lips.

 

‘Chicken day’ wasn’t just about the meal – it was about the journey from live chicken to scrumptious chicken tagine.

Zayane’s Recipe for Moroccan Chicken Tagine 2

Unlike in Britain, if you want to eat chicken in Morocco, you don’t buy it at the supermarket.

You don’t even meander down to your local butcher. This would be tantamount to Moroccan culinary heresy. Back home we need to know the origin of our chicken along with a guarantee that it is fresh. There’s an obvious way of securing these vital assurances and while it is a rather messy process, it nonetheless was as essential a feature of ‘chicken day’ as any other.

 

When I was a young girl, ‘chicken day’ began with my mother and I walking down to the souk to choose a nice red organic chicken. That’s right, a living and breathing one. When we arrived back home, my mum would place the red hen in a large pot and kill it. It isn’t the most pleasant thing to witness or perform, but it is an experience that reminds one that meat just doesn’t grow on trees and that every piece of meat you savour comes from a living creature with its own life and history.

 

Once dead, we would place the chicken in boiling water to make the plucking process easier. We would then diligently pluck all the feathers, but despite our best efforts, there would always remain fine hairs on the chicken. These are not worth the trouble to pluck so instead they were singed over an open flame on the hob. It was tedious work but a job that we approached meticulously as even a single bit of fluff left on the chicken would risk ruining the delicious, sumptuous tagine (and its flavoursome skin) that was to come.  Once fully defeathered, mum would thoroughly wash the chicken with salt, remove (and save) the giblets et voila…  it would be ready for marinating!

Zayane’s Recipe for Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Before cooking our fresh, organic chicken, we would rub it with finely chopped garlic, lemon juice, ginger, saffron, cumin, mustard powder and salt and pepper.

We would let it sit for a couple hours in the fridge before cooking it in the tagine with plenty of olives and – most importantly – preserved lemons. For a final touch, the giblets are added at the very end so they wouldn’t disintegrate. Shortly thereafter, my family and I would be pulled into the dinning room by the chicken’s unmistakable fragrance and we would be met with a huge steaming tagine in the middle of the table surrounded by a range of refreshing and tasty Moroccan salads and plenty of bread with which to mop up any left-over tagine sauce.

 

Joe and I would like to share with you our family’s take on the traditional Moroccan chicken tagine. For our recipe, we invite you to click here:

 

Zayane’s Recipe for Moroccan Chicken Tagine

 

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken 
  • 2 medium onions finely chopped 
  • garlic as desired finely chopped 
  • 1 bunch of parsley and coriander finely chopped
  • lemon juice as desired
  • 1 tbsp freshly ginger grated
  • saffron (put in hot water before use) or
  • turmeric if saffron is not available 
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 preserved lemons (use skin only)
  • olives red or green as desired
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil

 

  1. Before cooking, marinate chicken in the spices and garlic for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
  2. Place onions, chicken, marinade juices and herbs in the tagine (or pan) and add olives, preserved lemons and 1 cup of water.
  3. Cook on low heat for one hour.