Posted by Ashleigh Muir on

With its ancient history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes, Morocco is the perfect place to escape the winter blues.

However, with flights to Marrakech being a little out of our budget, we decided to bring a little North African sunshine to us with the creation of our Moroccan Riad fragrance. 

If you haven't had the pleasure of visiting a riad, it's a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. The term "riad" comes from the Arabic word for garden, "ryad." These architectural gems are often found in the medinas (old cities) of Morocco - especially in cities like Marrakech, Fes, and Essaouira.

The most distinctive feature of a riad is its central courtyard, which is usually open to the sky, and often contains a garden, a fountain, or a small pool, creating a serene oasis in the heart of the home. Interiors are adorned with intricate zellige (mosaic tilework), carved stucco, and beautifully painted wood, paired with vibrant colors, detailed craftsmanship, and traditional furnishings. 

Each riad has its own character and history, making each stay a truly special and unique experience.

For our Winter Limited Edition fragrance, we were inspired to create a true sanctuary for the senses, not just with a scent - but also with a cosy Moroccan Riad-inspired space to come home to. 
With that in mind, we enlisted the help of Loft's in-house interior design consultant, Jess, who turned our Riad dreams into reality.
We booked an in-store consult with Jess, who carefully considered the layout of our space, and offered her expert advice. From choosing everything from armchairs and side tables to rugs, cushions and floor lamps, it's safe to say Jess nailed the brief!
No stay at a riad would be complete without indulging in a home-cooked tagine, which can be made using a traditional tagine (an earthenware pot) or a dutch oven if you don't have a traditional tagine to hand.
Tagine Ingredients
1.6 kg boneless lamb shoulder, trim the fat, then cut in 3.5cm cubes (1kg after trimming)
1 tsp cooking/kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp canola oil
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 brown onions, diced (1cm cubes)
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp grated ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
2 1/2 cups chicken stock/broth, low salt
1 cup dried apricots, whole 
2 – 3 tsp lemon zest 
Ras El Hanout Ingredients
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp fennel powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (can reduce for less spicy)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cooking/kosher salt
For Serving
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted 
1/2 cup coriander leaves roughly chopped
1 1/2 batches couscous (you can add fruit and nuts if you want)
Preheat oven to 180°F/350°F (160°C fan). 
Spice mix – Mix the ingredients in a bowl then set aside.
Brown lamb – Toss lamb with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large oven-proof dutch oven (with a lid) over high heat. Brown the lamb in 3 batches, turning to colour the pieces all over, about 3 minutes. Remove into a bowl, then repeat with remaining lamb. Set aside.
Aromatics – Turn heat down to medium high. Add onion and garlic, cook for 3 minutes until soft. Add tomato paste, ginger, cinnamon and spice mix. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Sauce – Add chicken stock and water, stir, then return the lamb into the pot.
Slow cook 1 hr 45 min – Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid then cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Add apricots, put the lid back on and cook for another 1 hour, checking halfway to ensure the sauce hasn't reduced all the way (if you're concerned, add 1/2 cup water).
Lemon finish – Lamb should be tender – check! Gently stir in lemon zest.
Serve over plain couscous, sprinkled with almonds and coriander.
So if escaping the winter chill of the southern hemisphere for a sun-soaked adventure in Morocco isn't on the cards for you this winter, be sure to get hold of one our our Moroccan Riad wood-wick candles (while stocks last), visit our friends at Loft for some Moroccan-inspired furnishing, and cook a traditional tagine for the ultimate cosy experience.
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