Moroccan cuisine is an adventure of its own. I was a fan long before I travelled to Morocco, but being here, took my appreciation to a whole new level. Five months eating my way through the country, and I am still uncovering new ingredients, new foods, new flavor combinations. I’ve been particularly lucky to stay in a home with two amazing cooks who’ve been transforming food into art and my stay into a gastronomical adventure.
Here are some delicious and peculiar foods to kick off your Moroccan Cuisine Adventure…
A Tajine is one of Morocco’s most iconic dishes. Slowly cooked in a clay pot over coals, this delicious stew can be prepared with lamb, chicken, fish, camel meat, vegetables, olives and a variety of savory spices. You can find it in most restaurants, cafes, gas stations, and people’s homes.
One of my favorite things to get at the souk is Moroccan Spicy Coffee. You can find it at the spice vendors’ who mix freshly roasted coffee, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, star anise, cardamom, saffron, ginger, and vanilla and grind it all into an amazingly fragrant melange.
Baghrir or “Pancake with a thousand holes”, is delicious Moroccan breakfast food. It is very light and spongy and is usually served with jam, butter and Amlou.
Khobz, traditional Moroccan bread, is baked in a dome-shaped clay oven and is served with most meals. You should also try batbout – soft and chewy pita bread; harcha – pan-fried semolina bread; and kalinte –pie-like bread baked with chickpea flour.
Chebakia is one of the most popular sweets in Morocco, especially during the month of Ramadan. It is folded in a shape of a rose, deep fried, soaked in orange blossom water and honey, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Chebakia is best when it’s still warm.
Merguez is a traditional North African beef or lamb sausage, which is also popular in Europe and the Middle East. Harissa and paprika are responsible for its spiciness and bright red color. Merguez is delicious in sandwiches, with salads or in other dishes.
Loubia is a Moroccan tomato bean soup seasoned with spices and herbs. It’s healthy, delicious, and super easy to make.
Fragrant & delicious, Moroccan Mint Tea is much more than a drink. It is an integral part of the social life in the Maghrib, an art form, and a major component of your cultural experience. B’Saha!
Grilled Sardines are probably the cheapest and one of the most delicious street foods you can find. One serving with Moroccan salad costs around US $1-3. Most port towns will sell the catch of the day in stalls, outdoor grills and cafes around town.
Make sure to try Moroccan Spiced Olives marinated in a terrific harissa sauce made from red chilis, garlic, coriander and cumin. Yum!
You will not see Sfa on restaurants menus, so try to get invited to a Moroccan home to savor this delicious comfort food. Sfa is prepared with steamed vermicelli noodles, cinnamon, powdered sugar, raisins (and often saffron infused chicken). If sugar and noodles don’t strike you as a good combination, Sfa will have you reconsider it in a heartbeat.
Culinary Argan Oil is one of the rarest, tastiest and most expensive oils on the planet. It’s hard to find (and impossible to buy at a reasonable price) anywhere else outside Morocco. So take the opportunity and enjoy it while in the country – on salads, in pastries or simply with bread. It is absolutely delish!
Msmen is a flaky, square shaped Moroccan flatbread made with a mix of semolina and wheat flour. It’s common breakfast food served with amlou, jam or honey, but it can also be cooked with vegetables, meat and spicy herbs.
In Essaouira and some other sea ports, you can pick your Seafood while it’s still alive and have it cooked right on the spot. There is also a variety of oysters, snails, sea urchins and more unusual creatures that you should savor raw.
Have you ever had Couscous that underwent 3 hours of hamam and oil massage therapy? If not, don’t miss out! The royal treatment reserved for fine wheat in best restaurants and Moroccan homes leaves the couscous light and fluffy, almost melting in your mouth. The caramelized onion and sweet raisin garnish is to die for!
Amlou is almond butter on steroids, and I am dangerously in with it! The magic ingredients are freshly squeezed almond butter, argan oil and honey (typically from orange flowers). Eat it on bread, pancakes, or straight out of the jar like me. Note that Argan trees grow only in southwestern Morocco, so towns like Agadir, Taroudant, and Essaouira are the best places to buy it.
Harira is a traditional lamb, lentil, tomato and chickpea soup. It is especially popular during Ramadan, when most families break their fast with it.
Briouat is a delicious pastry filled with meat, cheese, amlou or chocolate and wrapped in paper-thin dough. It is a popular Moroccan appetizer, which can be found in many restaurants and cafes.
Kefta & Egg Tajine is cooked with minced lamb or beef, tomato and onion sauce, and a bunch of fresh spices. When the dish is almost ready, kefta is topped off with raw eggs that get poached inside the bubbling sauce.
All over Morocco, you’ll see local kids and adults happily sipping on Babouche – lemon and garlic snail soup served in small bowls and eaten right on the street. You may or may not like it, but make sure to give it try – it’s very much a part of the Moroccan culinary experience!
Rfissa is another unique traditional meal you won’t find in restaurants. It is a chicken and lentil dish cooked with fenugreek seeds, saffron and other spices and served on a bed of shredded pastry similar to Msmen called Tride.