After our experience with The Desert Pigeons, we bid farewell to the village of Khamlia and drove north to try the delicious regional delicacy medfouna: essentially, a Moroccan stuffed pizza, sans cheese. Special thank you to our friend, Hicham, for the recommendation – it was well worth the drive!
how it’s made: start with some Moroccan flatbread dough, stuff it with meat (typically cow or lamb), diced onions & a mélange of spices, and then bake it. The traditional approach is to bake the medfouna in a fire pit, although it’s quite common for restaurants and local Berber families to use a mud oven.
where to find it: you can find medfouna throughout the eastern deserts of Morocco, but the birthplace of this mouthwatering dish is Rissani. We enjoyed ours at Gite Café Restaurant Manzah.
travelhelix trivia: the Arabic word “medfouna” means “buried.”
The entire meal lasted about 90 minutes, the first hour of which attributed to the chefs preparing and then baking the medfouna. It was well worth the wait, because the meat is raw before it’s stuffed in the crust. So, the 40-50 minutes spent in the oven ensures the meat becomes thoroughly cooked. In the meantime, we were satiated with a delicious Moroccan salad and the standard basket of fresh Moroccan bread.
And then, it arrived….
The medfouna was not just served – it was presented. Several members of the kitchen staff emerged with this masterpiece of flavor, which came out on a simple, circular wooden board, pre-cut into 8 slices. We were each served a slice of medfouna, and then poured a cup of piping hot mint tea.
travelhelix trivia: as it was explained to us, the mint tea acts as a “palate-balancer” – cutting & contrasting the flavor of the fat of the meat. It worked!
Just as we were wrapping up the meal, the owner of the restaurant entered and greeted us warmly in Arabic, French and English, consecutively. He sat with us and alternated conversation back and forth between us (in English) and Hicham (in Arabic).
Another large family-style plate emerged from the kitchen, piled high with slices of fresh watermelon and another cantaloupe-looking melon that was described as a mix of melon + “ananas” – or as we say in English: pineapple. This mysterious melon was incredibly sweet, juicy and delicious. After two medfouna slices and close to a melon each, we were stuffed ;).
We thanked the restaurant owner for the phenomenal meal and friendly conversation, and said goodbye to him and his wonderful staff.
The drive back to Riad Madu was quick and painless, as we both passed out in a food coma! Back at the riad, we relaxed for a few hours indoors to escape the blazing afternoon heat. Just before 5pm, we grabbed the GoPro and left for our next adrenaline-fueled adventure.
Final note on the mystery melon:
If anyone out there can identify the name of this melon based on our description, please comment below or send an email to email@example.com. First few melons are on us!
Arrrggghhhh what could be more frustrating than eating a delicious melon for the first time, and not knowing what it’s called or where to find it?!?! #travelproblems