"For the main course we ordered a tagine of lamb served on a bed of wheat and chickpeas. The meat was soft and cooked to perfection…" Yonatan Sternberg is culturally enlightened at authentic kosher Moroccan restaurant, Darna, in Jerusalem.
Judging by my last name, which reveals my Ashkenazi roots, one might not guess that I'm actually a real fan of Moroccan cuisine. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t ask you to take my word for it; hence I decided to ask a good friend and an expert on Moroccan dishes to join me for dinner.
After revisiting North Africa some 20 years ago, Restaurateur, Ilan Siboni was dazzled by the beauty of his onetime homeland, and upon return he decided to establish an authentic kosher Moroccan restaurant in the heart of Jerusalem. Entering Darna is like traveling to a different world, the hallway is illuminated with candles, the ceiling and walls are adorned with authentic Moroccan pictures and pottery, the ceiling is covered with beautiful designs and the waiters are dressed in traditional Moroccan attire.
Eti, our lovely waitress, greeted us with a smile and showed us to our table. Darna is comprised of several different rooms which vary in size and décor, thus creating a warm, homey and private feeling. While admiring the artwork and the colors which surrounded us, we decide it was time to begin the feast.
We started off with the “Pastilla Fasia” and an assortment of traditional Moroccan salads, including: lentil salad, a lemony potato salad, hot peppers, matbouha and our favorite, thin juliennes of cucumber in a citrus dressing. Although the matbouha was tasty, my partner mentioned that she still prefers the one prepared by her grandma Haviva. The Pastilla is a classic Moroccan dish, a crispy phyllo pastry stuffed with Cornish hen and almonds, decorated with powdered sugar and cinnamon. This was real treat, the contrast in texture was perfect and the cinnamon offered an interesting kick to the dish.
For the main course we ordered a tagine of lamb served on a bed of wheat and chickpeas. The meat was soft and cooked to perfection; the wheat, however, was a little dry. But by adding some of the delicious sauce the problem was solved. Another dish which we enjoyed immensely was the royal couscous, a light fluffy couscous topped with veal, dried fruits and almonds. Again the meat was cooked to perfection, and even my partner agreed that this was among the best couscous dishes she'd ever had.
When Eti asked us if we were ready for desert, we weren’t sure that we were up for the task. Nevertheless, we ordered a platter of Moroccan sweets and the Tobokal Delight – crispy pastry dough, topped with a sweet creamy sauce and shredded almonds, which was delicious.
Darna’s motto is “Darna we Darqum”, Morroccan for our home is yours. While sipping on a warm cup of mint tea, we had to agree Darna definitely offers a homey Moroccan experience.
3 Horkanos St., Jerusalem Tel: 972-26245406