Moroccan-themed Tajine in Robertson Quay cooks up authentic flavours of the Maghreb that will make you yearn for Casablanca.
Ask most Singaporeans about Moroccan cuisine, and chances are you’d draw a blank stare. Moroccan food is not only fairly unknown these parts, food from the Maghreb also tends to suffer the ignominy of being lumped together and presented along with cuisines from other parts of the Mediterranean, particularly those of Greece or the Levant. Many will be hard pressed to name a dish as Moroccan, too.
Except maybe for the tagine. The earthern tagine (or tajine) dish with its distinctive conical cover, as well as the casseroles that it makes, is generally recognised as originating from Morocco.
And its exactly the culinary ignorance surrounding native Moroccan cuisine that new Moroccan venue, Tajine, is trying to address. The new tapas and cocktail bar along Mohamed Sultan Road at the edge of the Robertson Quay nightlife and dining enclave looks to offer an authentic Moroccan experience – albeit with a contemporary twist – from its decor right down to each dish and drink.
The eponymous tagine dish, rightfully, takes pride of place on the dining table here at Tajine. There are three versions on offer – the traditional chicken and preserved lemon, one with Atlantic monkfish, and another with melt-in-the-mouth veal. Each casserole is good to serve two to three, particularly if you’re going to be order a spread of other dishes as you should.
Then there are the traditional pastillas. These rustic savoury-sweet North African pastries feature layers of filo pastry enveloping a variety of fillings – here you can opt for chicken, spinach and artichoke, or daurade (seabream) – that even comes dusted with powdered sugar. The contrasting savoury-sweetness of these pies can be divisive.
One of the reasons Moroccan dishes tend to be confused for its Middle Eastern or Mediterranean counterparts is because they share cultural and historical roots. Their cuisines, therefore, can overlap. Moroccan kefta, or grilled minced beef meatballs, are near indistinguishable from kofta. The starters too, are largely similar to mezze. Zaalouk, for example, is mashed grilled eggplant much like baba ghanoush but mixed with tomato instead of tahini for a more savoury note. Bessara is a type of hummus but made with fava bean instead of chickpea.
There are more uniquely Moroccan dishes presented by Tajine as well. There’s taktouka, a warm salad that’s a delicious mess of cooked-down tomato and bell pepper. Or briouates, a traditional samosa-like filo pastry triangle that can be filled with anything from cheese to meat and fish, but here encases mashed sardines. And definitely the tangia marrakchia, a signature dish of Marrakesh that comes here as slow-cooked lamb rolled in crushed almond, pistachio and mint.
Tajine also offers one of the best couscous dishes we’ve tasted for a long time. The couscous royal here is a heaping platter of couscous smothered by all kinds of grilled meats – lamb merguez sausage, lamb chop, spring chicken, and kefta – that’s doused in bone broth. Those fluffy little semolina grains suck up all those juices for a most lovely mouthful.
But if there’s one thing you must order at Tajine? Zitoun. This simple little dish of marinated olives – seasoned with preserved lemon, chilli and garlic – are absolutely moreish, and perfect with Tajine’s selection of cocktails or Moroccan wine.
Address 18 Mohamed Sultan Rd, Singapore 238967 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 5pm to 11pm Tuesdays to Thursdays; 12pm to 11pm on Fridays; 11.30am to 11pm on Saturdays; 11am to 10pm on Sundays; closed on Mondays
Tel (65) 6690 7566