The cuisine of Morocco, influenced by the Mediterranean, Arab and sub saharan foods, is delicious, flavoursome and tasks great skill to master. It has become incredibly popular and somewhat fashionable in the Western world, to the point where British supermarkets will now sell ‘Moroccan hummus’. Hummus doesn’t even exist in Morocco! Well, it does, but it’s extremely hard to find and it won’t be anything like what you would get in the Middle East. Morocco is most famously known for it’s tagines, but there are amazing foods and flavours to try all across the country. I’ve included a few of my favourites below!
A Moroccan breakfast on the rooftop of Dar Sienna
So first I’ll start with breakfast. Above is a traditional Moroccan style breakfast, you usually will find some variant of this in most breakfast places. Moroccan mint tea, fresh orange juice, olives, cumin and salt for the eggs, jams and honey, various breads and cakes and my favourite – meloui bread (top left). It’s absolutely delicious, like a thin crispy pancake, and you can find variants of this from different stores. I used to keep it simple with the classic meloui bread dipped in honey, but you can find an onion version, or with strips of khlii (cured) meat inside. If you’re feeling adventurous you can try and make the bread yourself, but its extremely difficult to do it well!
Moroccan Couscous (as traditional as you can get)
The picture doesn’t do it justice, but this couscous was the best meal I had in Morocco. By far. It was following Eid Al-Adha so the meat was fresh and made by a local Fezian family. If you go to Morocco, everyone will tell you that Moroccan home cooked food is far superior to that found in restaurants. It consisted mainly of couscous, lamb meat, chickpeas, onions and raisins, but the best part was the sauce which you can see in bowls around the couscous. This was a blend of juices from the meat, onions, chickpeas and various other flavourings. The couscous was simple and straightforward, but packed full of flavour. I enjoyed many different variants of this national dish during my time, for example in this photo below:
Moroccan couscous from ALIF (American Language Institute Fes)
This couscous was made with chicken (hidden under the vegetables) and included courgettes, carrots, potato and butternut squash. The food is all steamed and I have been told it takes a very long time to make. I also once had couscous with almonds throughout and crushed on the top. The dish is traditionally eaten on Fridays (the holy day, equivalent to the Christian Sunday – like a Sunday roast!) and a large bowl is placed in the middle of the table for all the family to eat from, typically with their hands.
Chicken Bastilla from a traditional Moroccan restaurant in the Medina (old city) of Fes
Bastilla is unique to Morocco and is very popular dish, but you do need to be careful where you get it from as it seems to be easy to get wrong. However, when you find a good restaurant, it is a delicious meal. Encased in crispy pastry is chicken, a blend of spices and almonds, all topped with icing sugar and cinnamon so you get a delicious mix of sweet and savoury.
Moroccan lamb & okra tagine
This was my first ever tagine, in my first few days of arriving in Morocco. We ate in Cafe Clock (which can also be found in Marrakech and Chefchaouen), a touristic restaurant in the old medina. It was served with mashed potato on the menu, but I asked for couscous instead – it also came with traditional Moroccan bread which can be bought in the old medina, as found all over Morocco. Tagines come in all different shapes and sizes and their ingredients will vary in every place you try, so shop around and find your favourite!
Churros in the Medina!
We managed to randomly find a little shop selling fresh churros whilst walking through the old medina one day, they were delicious and a lovely surprise! Yet we never seemed to find it again after that time, so we have no idea if it closed but keep an eye out and it might just be your lucky day!
My first Iftar meal in a Moroccan home
I had this meal with a Moroccan family for Iftar during Ramadan and it includes many Moroccan staples. Harira (bottom left – a tomato based soup with pasta noodles, chick peas, lentils, various spices and sometimes meat), chebbekia (bottom right – almond sweets usually eaten with the harira soup as a sweetener), fried aubergine and various other aubergine based dishes, onion meloui bread, chips, traditional Moroccan breads, olives and baghrir (a traditional Moroccan pancake/crumpet).
I hope this post gives you a good starting point on what you can expect to find in Moroccan cuisine, however the items I’ve mentioned only scratch the surface and there is far more to experience and taste!