Much like Morocco itself, its cuisine combines traditional elements with outside influences which reflect the nation’s rich history. The indigenous Berber fare combines with flavours from Southern Europe and the Middle East to create a unique and tasty cuisine. While often imitated around the world, there is nothing like sampling its offerings among the locals, pulling up a pew at the lively Djemaa el-Fna square or grabbing a treat from a street stall. Here are my top 6 Moroccan foods to try on your next visit:
No visit to Morocco would be complete without sampling one of its most famous dishes. Cooked in a traditional clay pot from which it takes its name, the tagine has many varieties with beef, lamb and chicken some of the most popular. The dish is cooked over hot charcoals or an open fire and is accompanied by fruit, vegetables and a variety of spices. You can order a tagine everywhere and I would recommend trying a few different versions of the dish, especially if you are going to be travelling around Morocco – the flavours and aromas can vary depending on local ingredients. If you want to blend in with the locals, use the bread to scoop up the food instead of cutlery.
While couscous is arguably the most well-known North African food export, there is nothing like tasting it in Morocco. Prepared in a traditional way by steaming the granules, couscous here is very fragrant and is fluffier than you are probably used to at home. Again, there will be a choice of meat to have with your couscous. The portions you get here are absolutely huge and with couscous being so filling, I found it difficult to finish my plate whenever I ordered the dish.
Probably one of my favourites in Morocco, tagine kefta combines beef or lamb meatballs with eggs in a tomato sauce. Spices, onions and peppers are added to give the dish a distinct flavour and the sauce can be mopped up with the bread. While different in texture from the other tagines, the kefta is still cooked in the traditional clay pot. While not as ubiquitous as the other tagines or couscous, the tagine kefta can still be found in most restaurants and street stalls.
For true meat lovers out there. Succulent pieces of beef, lamb or chicken are grilled on charcoals and then skewered and served with olives, bread, grilled aubergine and sauces. My favourite way of eating the brochettes is stuffing a few pieces into the warm bread and adding some chili sauce for a little kick. During my trip I found that in some restaurants it’s necessary to ask for this dish as it might not always be on the menu. A place we dined in at the heart of Fes’ medina offered us either couscous or tagine but when we pressed for alternatives, they were happy to make the brochettes for us.
The fishing village of Essaouira, on the shores of the Atlantic, is a great place to escape to from craziness of Marrakech. You can smell the fish market before you see it, the day’s catch lining the sides of the fishing port. The most authentic way to sample the fresh fish on offer is to purchase whatever takes your fancy and get it prepared at one of the grill spots located in the area. Watch as your selection sizzles over the charcoals and enjoy the bread and salad offered up by the stalls. This is also a great spot for people watching as you will be sharing seats with locals as well as cats and seagulls hoping for leftovers.
If that sounds like too much hassle, walk through the archway to Place Moulay Hassan and sit down at one of the open-air restaurants near the square for an equally tasty experience. Just be prepared to share the space with more tourists.
I don’t think I had a single meal in Morocco that didn’t involve a glass of Moroccan mint tea. It is traditionally a gesture of hospitality and friendship as well as the most popular drink in Morocco. You will be offered a glass at practically every turn – in cafes, restaurants, with meals, after meals, even during haggling in the souqs. I am surprised I didn’t turn into a sprig of mint during my trip! One thing to keep in mind is that 9 times out of 10 your drink will contain just as much sugar as it will tea – it’s really that sweet! My advice would be to ask for “no sugar” and add it to taste. You can usually ask for an iced version too.
Do you agree? Have I missed anything out? Share your favourite Moroccan food experiences in the comments or drop me a line!