Interview with Casablanca cookbook author Nargisse Benkabbou

Each week we track down someone whose work we admire and ask them probing, annoying questions about their home. (We also force them to send us a bathroom selfie.) This week we’re quizzing the lovely Nargisse Benkabbou, whose new cookbook Casablanca has come out to rave reviews.

Which room do you most love in your home? Why?
The kitchen because it’s where the magic happens! More seriously, it’s because I spend a lot of time in it and it’s probably the only room in the house where I am the only one who knows where every single item belongs. My kitchen is like my little sanctuary.

Do you do most of the cooking at home? If so, what are your go-to dishes?
I do a lot of stir-frying during the week with Moroccan spices. I find it very quick and the variations are endless. I always have lots of leftovers from recipe testing so when I am hungry a stir-fry is always my go-to meal to make the best of them in no time.

Is there anything you hoard or over-buy at home, such as cooking pots or cookbooks?
I definitely buy too many serving plates. I find them very important because they contribute to making the food the star of the show. My favourite kinds are wooden and ironstone dishes.

Nargisse gamely takes a selfie in her bathroom. Yes, we know we’re annoying.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I check what time it is to see if there’s any chance I can stay in bed a little longer.

Do you redecorate regularly or is it something that only happens when it really needs it?
I redecorated our home 4 years ago and we haven’t changed anything since, I might do it again in a few years.

Is there an item in your house that is particularly special for you and that has a back story to it?
A couscoussière (a big couscous steamer) that used to belong to my mom. That’s what we use in Morocco to make a traditional Moroccan couscous.

If you were having a dinner party and could invite anyone, who would your guests be?
My mother and Jamie Oliver, it would make her so happy!

Here’s a delicious recipe for red chermoula prawn and scallop skewers from Nargisse’s book Casablanca.