Just a stone’s throw away from Marrakech’s main square, Jemaa el Fnaa, you’ll find a whole alley cooking and serving steaming sides of Morocco’s favourite meat, the mighty lamb. This little-known meat lover’s paradise is a far cry from the touristy English-menu grills and the over-priced European-style cafés in the Medina. ‘Mechoui alley‘, literally translating to ‘slow-roast lamb alley’, is the place to gorge yourself with heavenly, juicy, tender roast lamb by the bucket load.
Unlike the open-all-hours places city-life has us accustomed to, these four of five vendors are only open for lunch, with a mere three hour window to have your lamb and eat it. Timing is important and there’s an optimum time for everything.
Mechoui alley with advices
If you’re after a choice cut, arrive at 11am, right before it gets chopped up into chunks. Point to the best-looking hunk of meat and ask for your desired amount; a nuss will get you half kilo, a rubb a quarter kilo (a nuss should suffice for two people). Negotiate the price before eating and when the deal’s done, the vendor will take a knife to the falling-off-the-bone lamb, bag it up with a good pinch of cumin and salt, some olives and the all-important freshly-baked bread.
The remaining lamb gets put into clay jars with spices and preserved lemons and put back in the oven for the flavours to infuse. Turn up at 1pm or 1.30pm, where the lamb has reached the melt-in-the-mouth quality that’s put this little street on the map. Find yourself a table behind the counter, eat with your fingers and let the bread soak up the juice, it’s a great way to experience traditional Moroccan food.