07 Jun Mama Morocco, Balaclava
Mama Morocco is relatively new to the Carlisle Street food scene, and the restaurant has a small, cosy feel to it, accentuated by striking, authentic light fixtures. It’s a narrow building, and walking past the kitchen down the side of the restaurant will bring you to a charming little courtyard surrounded by greenery and timber lattices, illuminated by string lights.
We take a seat at a large communal table set in a semi-private room. Equipped with adjustable lighting, the mood is set. Galit Ben-David tells us of a few childhood memories that have inspired her journey, such as watching her grandmother lovingly hand-rolling couscous dough for the family meal. It’s the same love and passion for food and people that she hopes comes through when customers dine at Mama Morocco.
The night kicks off with a large selection of dips and starters. Freshly grilled pita is beautifully fluffy, pairing perfectly with the wonderfully smokey baba ganouj, silverbeet, cumin-flavoured beetroot, and tangy matbucha, a zingy tomato-based dip with garlic and green chilli. Slices of grilled eggplant come with a sourish spin. Many of the recipes have beeen passed down through the generations and the genuine, homely flavours really shine through here.
We could just keep going with the dips, especially that baba ganouj, but there’s more to explore. The moroccan fish has an addictively intense tomato-ey punch with a hint of spiciness, and the soft pieces of tomato partners neatly with the texture of the fish that just flakes away from the skin with a gentle touch.
The apricot chicken is predictably sweet, but not overly so, and the generous sprinkling of toasted almond slivers contrasts with the soft fruit and chicken meat. The ox tail stew is similarly tender, cooked until the cartilage is meltingly gelatinous. Vegetarian stuffed potatoes are filled with a comforting mixture of soft rice, carrots and celery, and found sitting a sauce of tomatoes, spices, coriander and parsley. Everything is enjoyed with cous cous, including a version with sultanas and roasted almonds. Yum.
We finish with piping hot sfenj – Moroccan doughnuts that are crispy on the outside, but surprisingly light and fluffy on the inside. They are enjoyed with drizzles of honey, and sips of sugar-sweetened mint tea. It the perfect conclusion to a lovely meal.
For a Moroccan meal prepared with genuine warmth and love, you can’t go past Mama Morocco
Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to Mama Morocco, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way
302 Carlisle St
Balaclava, VIC, 3183
(03) 9939 0107