The cuisine of Melilla


Melilla, Mediterranean food from the east and west

Old Rusadir of the Phoenicians, a trading centre which was Spanish before Navarre had joined the Crown of Castille - one and a half centuries before Rosellon became French and almost three centuries before the United States of America existed - is a cosmopolitan city which was conquered by the Catholic Kings after taking Granada, in order to establish bases on the other side of the Straits of Gibraltar to serve as sentries against any possible invasions from the North African coast

A great variety of people and cultures live in the Autonomous City of Melilla - Spaniards, Arabs, Jews and Indians - and so Christian festivities (Epiphany, Easter, Pilar, Christmas) and Muslim festivities (Ramadan, the Sacrifice Festivity, the birth of the Prophet Mohammed), Jewish festivities (Purim, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) and Indian festivities (Lala-Loi, Holi – a celebration of colours which takes place on the 15th April- Rama Navami, Raksha Bandhan, Krisha Janmashtami, the birth of Gandhy and Deepwali) all take place in this city.

Varied cookingThe presence of these different cultures have left their mark on the cuisine, which is very varied and shows its maximum splendour at the many festivals. Spanish and Mediterranean dishes include: fish stew, which is prepared with anglerfish, coot, and prawns, crushed garlic, hot "ñora" peppers and parsley and a pepper and tomato salad; Rusadir-style anglerfish casserole, which recalls long-past eras; fisherman's pie made with various types of fish, but which must always include anglerfish, garfish, prawns and crayfish. These ingredients are chopped up very small, cooked in a bain-marie, moulded to form a pie with breadcrumbs, oloroso from Jerez, freshly-ground pepper, cream and eggs and which is finally decorated with mayonnaise and a few whole prawns or crayfish; and cuttlefish with chickpeas, a light fish stew. Berber cuisine offers the traveller small lamb kebabs seasoned with saffron, cumin, pepper, paprika, parsley and coriander; the tasty and very typical "couscous", which is mixed with chopped lamb and vegetables and spices; Corinth noodles, an interesting dish prepared with chicken, onions, oil, spices, cinnamon, parsley, garlic, Corinthian raisons, dried plums, sugar and cinnamon. Indian "samosas" are small, delicious, crunchy and triangular pastries which are stuffed with potatoes, peas, onion, fresh and dried coriander, cumin and lemon juice. "Cocho" of Hebrew origin, is a delectable dish prepared with meaty fish (grouper, anglerfish, corvina) which are cut into small pieces, seasoned with salt, paprika, garlic and coriander and cooked in a little oil with tomatoes and peppers until the liquid has evaporated. Another Hebrew dish is the so-called coloured omelette, with its yellow egg, green peas, orange carrot and white mashed potato.

Cultural mix An exquisite stew is made from Hebrew biscuits, Moroccan peppers and carrots, Indian spices and tongue, called the "Four Communities", which in addition to being delectable is also an emblem of the coexistence of these cultures. One of the best puddings is the orange pie. A marmalade is made using orange pulp and cloves which is then stuffed into the empty orange peel, and topped with custard and decorated with meringue, made from whipped egg whites and sugar, and then sprinkled with ground almonds. They are cooled in the fridge and a little ground cinnamon is added when serving.

Christmas Food in Ceuta and Melilla

Ceuta and Melilla are Spain's two autonomous cities in North Africa. Their location is clearly reflected in their cuisine and it is easy to distinguish this influence on their Christmas menus. For example, in Melilla, the sweet or sour pastries called briouats are very popular, particularly the ones filled with seafood, meat or chicken. The blend of cultures is even more evident at the festive tables, where you can find a mixture of Spanish nougats, marzipan, and typical shortbreads with Moroccan sweets and cakes.

What to do

Other recipes that may interest you