Taste North Africa in New York City

Taste North Africa in New York City

Discovering the Flavors of Morocco in the Heart of NYC

As I step through the doors of Kish-Kash, a new Moroccan restaurant in the heart of New York City’s West Village, I’m immediately transported to the bustling souks of Marrakech. The high ceilings, colorful tiles, and the aroma of spices wafting through the air create a warm, inviting atmosphere that feels a world away from the busy streets outside.

A Culinary Journey Guided by a Seasoned Chef

I’m greeted by Einat Admony, the chef and owner of Kish-Kash, whose passion for North African cuisine is palpable. As she leads me to a cozy table, she shares her personal journey with couscous, the star of her menu.

“I was just 8 years old when I first experienced the art of making couscous by hand in my Moroccan neighbor’s home,” Admony recalls, her eyes lighting up. “Watching her meticulously roll and steam the semolina grains was a revelatory experience that sparked my lifelong love affair with this seemingly simple dish.”

Admony explains that the process of preparing authentic couscous is far from straightforward, requiring a two-hour process of hand-rolling, steaming, and straining the semolina. “Don’t be fooled by the 10-minute recipe found on your store-bought package,” she warns. “True couscous is a labor of love.”

Unveiling the Secrets of North African Cuisine

As Admony leads me through the menu, I’m struck by the depth and complexity of North African flavors. From the rich, spicy chreime (a Sephardic fish dish) to the tender, meat-stuffed mafroum (a Moroccan potato dish), each dish tells a story of Admony’s culinary heritage.

“I want my guests to feel like they’ve stepped into a North African Jewish mother’s kitchen,” she says with a smile. “But a modern one, where the past and present come together in a celebration of flavors.”

Couscous: A Communal Dish Steeped in Tradition

Couscous, the restaurant’s namesake, is the heart and soul of the menu. Admony explains that in Sephardic Jewish homes, couscous is more than just a dish – it’s an expression of love, generosity, and hospitality.

“Couscous is the kind of dish that feels both communal and plentiful,” she says. “It’s something that can easily feed entire families, and I want everyone who comes to Kish-Kash to experience the beauty of North African cuisine.”

Much like the undiscovered gems of Italy, Admony believes that New Yorkers are ready to discover the rich and diverse flavors of North Africa. “People will be surprised. It’s not something they’re familiar with, and I want them to feel like they’ve been transported to a different world.”

Exploring the Vibrant Menu

As I peruse the menu, I’m struck by the care and attention to detail that Admony has put into each dish. From the six couscous variations (chicken, short-rib, lamb, spicy fish, and vegetable) to the tempting appetizers and side dishes, there’s something to delight every palate.

A Taste of Morocco, One Bite at a Time

I start with the chreime, the Sephardic spicy fish dish that Admony was kind enough to share a recipe for. The vibrant, tomato-based sauce is infused with a harmony of garlic, jalapeƱo, harissa, paprika, and cumin, creating a flavor profile that’s both bold and balanced. The tender fish fillets soak up the rich, spicy sauce, and the fresh cilantro garnish adds a bright, herbaceous touch.

Next, I dive into the mafroum, a Moroccan specialty that Admony describes as “a meat-stuffed potato that melts in your mouth.” The combination of the savory, seasoned ground meat and the creamy, pillowy potato is a revelation, and the tangy tomato sauce ties it all together beautifully.

Couscous: The Crowning Glory

Of course, no meal at Kish-Kash would be complete without a taste of their signature couscous. I opt for the lamb version, and as the first bite hits my tongue, I understand why Admony is so passionate about this humble grain.

The couscous is light and fluffy, with each individual grain retaining its own distinct texture. The lamb is tender and flavorful, infused with a blend of North African spices that dance on my palate. I can’t help but savor every mouthful, imagining the care and attention that went into its preparation.

A Culinary Adventure for All

As I finish my meal, I’m struck by the accessibility and inclusivity of Kish-Kash’s offerings. The menu is reasonably priced, with starters starting at just $9 and main courses ranging from $15 to $21. Admony has clearly made a conscious effort to make North African cuisine approachable and inviting to all.

“I want my restaurant to be accessible to everyone,” she tells me. “I want them to feel welcome and to discover the beautiful flavors that North Africa has to offer.”

Connecting with the Heart of North Africa

As I step back out onto the bustling streets of New York City, I feel a sense of connection to a culture and cuisine that, until now, had been largely unfamiliar to me. Kish-Kash has not only transported me to the vibrant streets of Morocco, but it has also opened my eyes to the rich tapestry of North African culinary traditions.

Elbahia, the Moroccan restaurant’s parent company, has successfully brought the flavors of North Africa to the heart of the Big Apple, creating a dining experience that is both authentic and welcoming. I can’t wait to return and continue my journey of discovery, one delicious bite at a time.

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