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La Khaïma - A nomade cuisine that warms the heart

Kassandra Brochu

Kassandra Brochu

Oct 31, 2017

Mauritania is a country in northwestern Africa where there is a fabulous amalgam culture. You’ll find traditional dishes filled with a lot flavour and many different spices; dates, beef, lamb and camel meat are important components of Mauritanian cuisine. La Khaïma restaurant transports you on a culinary journey to the heart of this African region!

The first element that captivates your attention when you walk through the door of the restaurant located on Plateau Mont-Royal is the wonderful smell of the cuisine. The next thing that we noticed was the beautiful colors of the scarves, cushions and drapery that are installed all over the restaurant to create the impression of really being in a nomad tent. This decor is very warm and charming, it is possible to sit on the floor around low tables to really experiment a nomad diner.

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The meal begins with a classic in that kind of cuisine; the mezzes. Traditionally, the mezzes are small-assorted dishes that are served as appetizers to calm the appetite while waiting for the main meal. They are usually made with chickpeas, tahini, eggplant, olive oil and lemon and served with pita bread, the mezzes we had the night we went to La Khaïma also included sweet potato and squash. The texture was very interesting; it was a perfect appetizer to start the diner.

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Second, we received the M'Berberli soup; made with lentils, ginger, caramelized onions, lime, lemon, olive oil, paprika and cumin. Although this seems like a simple soup at first glance, the combination of ingredients brings a pleasant and comforting blend of flavours.

 

We were really excited to get the main course, we had been enjoying the wonderful scents that were all around us since we arrived. A very large tajine style dish was served with the three flavours of the day; the concept of that meal is that everyone at the table eats in the same plate, which makes the experience very social. We had the chicken Tenadi, a delicious chicken with candied lemon and olives. There was also the Marjen beef, a very tender beef stewed with dates. The third assortment was the vegetarian Magoji that contained a wide variety of vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, manioc, chickpeas and zucchinis. Everything was served on flavourful couscous that absorbed all the flavours of the dish. We finished the meal with the classic mint tea and a small spice cake.

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Being a bring your own wine, La Khaïma restaurant does not have a wine or cocktails list, therefore it is nice to get a bottle of red wine before you get there to accompany the fully flavoured dishes. The wine we brought was served in small "old fashioned" style glasses, which was different from other restaurants. During the meal, a musician accompanied by his little guitar came to play rhythmic live music; these sounds created a pleasant atmosphere and brought joy to the entire dining room.

We had the chance to go home with the famous drink that Mr. Atig, the owner of the establishment, made with some hibiscus flowers. With its beautiful red color, this 100% organic drink is tasty and very thirst quenching, perfect at any time of the day. It is also possible to enjoy two other flavours in addition to the original recipe, mint or ginger.

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We immediately noticed the kindness and the big heart of Mr. Atig when we arrived. He started a foundation with the same name as the restaurant to promote the nomadic life as it is lived in Mauritania. If you want to live the complete experience of a nomadic meal, you can participate in the nomadic festival held several times a year where you will be able to enjoy music, camel races, movies, typical exhibitions of the nomadic culture. These events take place here in Montreal, but also elsewhere in Canada and of course in Mauritania. Now it's your turn to let yourself be charmed by this unique place!

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