Tag Archives: morocco

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Baba Ganuj

Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Today’s recipe: Baba Ganuj or Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ganuj


2lbs (1kg) eggplants

1 large tomato

1 green pepper

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1 Tbs salt

1 Tbs mint

2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs pomegranate molasses


  • Roast the eggplant s on a baking dish in medium oven approximately one hour, or until the skin darkens and begins to split, remove from oven to cool
  • When eggplants are cool enough handle, break open and scoop out the insides
  • Mash the pulp with a fork until a smooth puree
  • Add olive oil and lemon juice and set aside
  • Finely chop tomato, pepper and onion, add them to eggplant puree and stir
  • Crush garlic in a pestle with salt and stir into juice and olive oil
  • Add liquid to vegetable mixture and mix well
  • Stir in the mint
  • Serve in a shallow bowl with garnish of tomatoes or parsley sprigs and pita bread

A variation on this recipe is to cook the eggplant on a BBQ, it will enhance the smokey flavor! Enjoy!

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to discuss options for travel in and around the Middle East.

To read what a Sample 5 Day Emirates Desert Adventure with Caravan-Serai would look like, click here.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

To read more about Caravan-Serai, click here.

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Filed under Africa, Egypt, Middle East, Morocco, Travel by Taste, Turkey, UAE, VOTM

Women’s Travel Group: Morocco

Sita Morocco

Join Women’s Travel Group for a Christmastime adventure in Morocco!

The well-established travel group SITA has partnered with Women’s Travel Group to provide this fantastic opportunity for a women-only trip to Morocco. Flying Solo? Pairing options may be available.

This trip is bookable through Willamette Intl Travel, call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com for more details. We can arrange pre-/post-trip travel as well. 8 Days not enough? Extend it with a few extra days in New York or Spain!

Here’s a quick schedule of what to expect:

Day 1: Mon Dec 23. Depart New York for a short flight to Casablanca.

Day 2: Tue Dec 24. Casablanca/Rabat. (L,D). Arrive in Casablanca, be greeted at the airport by an English speaking guide. Drive through to the capital of Rabat. After lunch, enjoy a city tour of Rabat visiting the Kasbah of Oudayas Hassan Tower, the Royal Palace, Chellah Necropolis, Mohammed V Mausoleum, and the city gates. Overnight at the Sofitel Jardins des Roses.

Day 3: Wed Dec 25 Rabat/Meknes/Fes. (B,L). After breakfast, head to Fes via Meknes and Volubilis. Tour the beautiful small town of Meknes and its historic ramparts, stables and the majestic Bab El Mansour gate. Proceed to the well-preserved Roan ruins of Volubilis nearby, from which the lions came for Roman Gladiator fights. Stop in Moulay Idriss, home to the tomb of the founder of Islam in Morocco. Overnight at the Sofitel Palais Jamai in Fes.

Day 4: Thu Dec 26 Fes. (B,D) After breakfast, the English speaking tour guide will take you on a tour of the medina, old city, founded in the 9th century and a World Heritage Site. Take a tour of the University Karaouine, one of the oldest in the world, founded in 859 by a woman. Also visit beautiful fountains, arts and crafts, and the famous tanneries and souks of Fez. That evening, enjoy a dinner with entertainment at the Palais Medina Restaurant.

Day 5: Fri Dec 27 Fes/Marrakech. (B,L). Depart for Marrakech via the Middle Atlas. You will drive through picturesque pine forest, gorgeous hillscapes, and Ifrane, a popular ski and summer resort. Overnight at the Kenzi Menara Palace in Marrakech.

Day 6: Sat Dec 28 Marrakech. (B,L,D). Your English speaking local guide will take you on a tour of historic monuments, including the Koutoubia Minaret, Saadian Tombs, Menara Gardens and the Palais Bahia. In the afternoon, you will be driven to a cooking class at Riad La Maison Arabe (priced separately).

Day 7: Sun Dec 29 Marrakech. (B,L,D). After breakfast, you will visit the beautiful Les Jardins Majorelle, a botanical garden designed by Jacques Majorelle in 1920s from plants imported from all over the world. Then you’ll explore the medina and the world-famous Jemaa El Fna and come face to face with acrobats, snake charmers, fortune tellers, singers, healers, poets and food stalls. Enjoy the evening at a delicious Moroccan restaurant with accompanying folklore show. There is also an optional excursion into the historic Portuguese harbor of Essaouira.

Day 8: Mon Dec 30 Marrakech. (B). Depart Marrakech for New York City.

sita maroc 2

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Filed under Africa, Group Travel, Morocco, News

Reading List: Istanbul

Read before you go! Today we’re taking a look at the multilayered land of Turkey. Almost no other country has such a diverse abundance in history, culture, and people. Check out some of our favorite literature from the area:

Pamuk, Orhan. Istanbul. Turkey’s most famous writer overviews Turkey’s most notable city. Excellent overview on the modern city.

Orhan Pamuk. My Name is Red. The first Pamuk novel you should read. A fiendishly devious tale of intrigue and romance, set against the backdrop of 16th century Istanbul.

Judith Herrin. Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire. A brilliant study of the history of the Byzantine empire, chronicling from the rise in the 4th century to siege of Istanbul in 1453 by the Ottoman Turks.

Umberto Eco. Baudolino. A fictional account following a gifted multilingual liar and his adventures with Emperor Barbarossa, with priest-kings, and the siege of Constantinople.

David Fromkin. A Peace to End All Peace. Chronicles the fall of the Ottoman Empire and brings to light how the modern Middle East and Turkey developed.

Agatha Christie. Murder on the Orient Express. The classic novel by Agatha Christie about the muder of European’s most famous train line. Follow detective Hercule Poirot as he sleuths out this mystery.

Ann Marie Mershon. Istanbul’s Bazaar Quarter: Backstreet Walking Tours. A unique collection of walking tours that delve into the hidden world of the bazaar—its workshops, caravanserai, gardens and courtyards.

Greg Malouf. Turquoise: A Chef’s Travels in Turkey. Follows chef Greg Malouf through spice markets, soup kitchens, and delicious restaurants for the enticing flavors of the Mediterranean.

Elif Shafak. The Bastard of Istanbul. A colorful tale of Asya and the four sisters of the Kazanci family against the backdrop of Turkish identity.

Hilary Sumner-Boyd. Strolling through Istanbul. A classic walking guide through Istanbul’s magnificent history, complete with anecdotes, hidden gems and secret histories.

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Vendor of the Month: Caravan-Serai


This month we are featuring one of our spectacular escorted tours, Caravan-Serai! This tour company provides travels to destinations in the Arab World such as the popular Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco, as well as off-the-radar locations such as Yemen and Algeria. You also have the option of exploring non-Arab countries such as Armenia and Iran.

Caravan-Serai Tours is owned by Rita Zawaideh, born in Jordan and educated and living in Seattle. She is proud of her tours that offer fun, safe, exciting, and educational views of her home region. Their Saudi Arabia tour was once named “Tour of a Lifetime” by National Geographic Traveler Magazine.

Named after the “inns” of the Silk Road, Caravan-Serai Tours is based in Seattle but hosts employees from all over the world whose goal is to unveil the “enigma” surrounding this part of the world. Groups generally run from 10-16 people, allowing for intimate excursions to the wonders and sites this region has to offer. The Arab World has long intrigued the West, with its stunning Islamic architecture, beautiful calligraphy, arabesque patterns and ornate tilework—as well enchanted us with its food: tzatziki, lamb kebab, fresh flat bread. As the birthplace of civilization, this region still retains most of its ancient ruins, timeworn metropolises, and mausoleums.

Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins. Thematic tours are occasionally offered, like the Persian Gardens of Iran, yachting in Turkey, or desert trekking in Morocco.

Caravan-Serai and Willamette Intl Travel work hand in hand to give you a travel experience unlike any other! They will assist you with pre/post trip concerns, prepare travel documents, and coordinate to make your tour hassle-free and delightful.

For a terrific firsthand report on one client’s tour to Iran, check out the link: http://www.wittravel.com/reports/Iran_April08.pdf

Willamette International Travel is proud to work with Caravan-Serai Tours! Call us for a booking at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com

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Filed under Vendors, VOTM