Morocco is a vibrant and diverse country located in North Africa, known for its rich culture, stunning architecture, and of course, its delicious cuisine.
Moroccan food is a fusion of African, Arabic, and Mediterranean influences, resulting in a unique and flavorful culinary experience.
From aromatic tagines to hearty couscous dishes, Moroccan cuisine offers a range of flavors and textures that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.
In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the must-try foods to sample during your visit to Morocco.
Foods to try in Morocco
Tagine is a traditional Moroccan dish named after the clay pot in which it is cooked. The pot has a cone-shaped lid that helps to retain moisture and circulate the heat evenly, resulting in a flavorful and tender dish.
It can be made with a variety of ingredients, but it typically includes a combination of meat, vegetables, and spices.
Some common ingredients used in tagine include lamb, chicken, beef, eggplant, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and a variety of spices such as cumin, ginger, paprika and cinnamon.
The preparation of tagine involves layering the ingredients in the pot and cooking them slowly over low heat.
The steam from the simmering ingredients is trapped under the cone-shaped lid, helping to create a tender and flavorful dish. It is typically served with couscous, bread, or rice.
Tagine is a popular dish in Morocco and is often served during special occasions and family gatherings. It is a hearty and delicious meal that showcases the rich and diverse flavors of Moroccan cuisine.
Couscous is a staple food in Moroccan cuisine that is made from tiny grains of semolina, a type of wheat. It is typically served as a side dish, but can also be used as a base for stews or tagines.
To prepare couscous, the semolina is first moistened with water and then rolled and rubbed by hand until it forms small pellets.
These pellets are then steamed in a special pot called a couscoussier, which has a perforated basket on top for the couscous and a pot underneath for the stew or broth.
Traditionally, couscous is served with a flavorful stew made from meat, vegetables, and spices such as cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon.
The stew is usually prepared separately and poured over the couscous just before serving.
Couscous is often considered the national dish of Morocco, and is an important part of Moroccan culture and cuisine. It is typically served at special occasions such as weddings, religious festivals, and family gatherings.
Pastilla, also spelled Bastilla, is a traditional Moroccan dish that is known for its unique combination of sweet and savory flavors.
It is typically made with layers of paper-thin phyllo pastry that encase a filling of spiced shredded chicken or pigeon, along with ground almonds, sugar, and fragrant spices such as cinnamon and saffron.
The filling is first cooked with a blend of spices and then mixed with lightly beaten eggs to create a custard-like texture. The phyllo pastry is then layered with the filling and baked until golden brown and crispy.
Once the pastilla is cooked, it is typically dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon, and sometimes garnished with toasted almonds or sesame seeds.
It is often served as a festive dish during special occasions such as weddings, Eid al-Fitr, or other important celebrations.
The combination of sweet and savory flavors, along with the unique texture of the crispy phyllo pastry and the creamy custard-like filling, make pastilla a truly distinctive and delicious Moroccan dish.
Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup that is commonly served during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.
It is a hearty soup that is made with a combination of lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, and a variety of spices, including cumin, ginger, and cinnamon.
In addition to these ingredients, Harira may also contain lamb or beef, as well as onions, celery, and parsley. Some recipes may also call for the addition of rice or vermicelli noodles.
Harira is typically eaten as a starter, and is often served with dates or other sweet treats to break the fast. It is a nutritious and filling soup that provides energy and sustenance during the long days of fasting.
Beyond its role as a staple of Ramadan, Harira is also a popular dish throughout Morocco, and can be enjoyed year-round.
It is typically served with bread or other accompaniments, such as harissa, a spicy chili paste, or preserved lemon.
Zaalouk is a traditional Moroccan dish that typically consists of cooked eggplant and tomatoes seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices.
The dish is often served as a side dish or salad and is a staple in Moroccan cuisine. To make Zaalouk, eggplants are first roasted or grilled until they are tender and cooked through.
The cooked eggplants are then mashed or pureed and mixed with cooked tomatoes that have been peeled and diced.
The mixture is then seasoned with a blend of spices, including cumin, paprika, and garlic. Additional ingredients may include chopped parsley, coriander, and lemon juice.
Zaalouk can be served hot or cold and is often enjoyed as a side dish to accompany a main course or as a dip with bread or crackers.
It is a healthy and flavorful dish that is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, making it a popular choice for those seeking a nutritious and flavorful meal.
Sardines are a popular fish in Moroccan cuisine and are often prepared in a variety of ways.
One popular Moroccan dish that features sardines is “Sardines Chermoula,” which is a flavorful marinade made with a variety of spices and herbs.
To make Sardines Chermoula, the sardines are first cleaned, gutted and then marinated in a mixture of garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, lemon juice, olive oil and chopped parsley and cilantro.
The fish is then grilled or baked until cooked through and served with a side of lemon wedges.
Sardines are also commonly used in other Moroccan dishes such as tagines (stews), couscous, and salads. They are a nutritious and flavorful fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.
Sardines are also a more sustainable choice of fish due to their abundant population in the Atlantic Ocean.
Merguez is a spicy sausage that is a popular type of Moroccan cuisine. It is made from lamb or beef that is finely ground and mixed with a blend of North African spices, such as cumin, paprika, and harissa, a hot chili paste.
Merguez is usually grilled or cooked over an open flame, giving it a distinctive smoky flavor.
It is often served with bread, couscous, or rice, and is sometimes accompanied by grilled vegetables, such as bell peppers or onions.
Merguez is a staple in Moroccan cuisine and can be found in many traditional dishes, such as tagines, which are slow-cooked stews made with meat, vegetables, and spices.
It can also be used in sandwiches or as a pizza topping.
Merguez is popular not only in Morocco but also in other countries with a significant North African population, such as France and Israel.
In recent years, it has gained popularity in other parts of the world, as people have become more interested in exploring and experimenting with different cuisines.
8. Mint tea
Mint tea is a traditional drink in Moroccan cuisine, and it is a staple in Moroccan culture.
It is a type of green tea that is brewed with fresh mint leaves and served hot, usually in a small glass.
Moroccan mint tea is typically prepared using Chinese gunpowder tea, which is a type of green tea that has been rolled into small pellets.
To make Moroccan mint tea, the tea leaves are steeped in boiling water along with fresh mint leaves and sugar to taste.
The mixture is then poured through a strainer and served hot. The tea is often served alongside small cookies or pastries.
Mint tea is a popular drink in Morocco and is served in households, restaurants, and cafes throughout the country.
It is often served as a sign of hospitality and is a symbol of Moroccan culture and hospitality.
In addition to its cultural significance, mint tea has several health benefits.
Mint is known to aid in digestion and can help soothe stomach discomfort. It is also believed to have calming properties and can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Khobz is a traditional Moroccan bread that is commonly eaten with meals, much like how Europeans may eat bread with their meals.
It is a round, flat bread that is typically made from wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt. The dough is kneaded and then left to rise for several hours before being baked in a hot oven or over a fire.
There are many variations of khobz in Morocco, depending on the region and the ingredients available.
For example, some versions may include semolina flour, barley flour, or cornmeal in addition to wheat flour. Others may be flavored with spices like cumin or anise, or include additions like olives, onions, or herbs.
Khobz is an important part of Moroccan cuisine and is often used to scoop up stews, tagines, or other dishes that have a lot of sauce or gravy.
It can also be eaten on its own or used as a base for sandwiches or wraps. In Morocco, it is common to see people buying fresh khobz from local bakeries or even baking it at home.
Tanjia is a traditional Moroccan dish that originated in the city of Marrakesh.
It is a slow-cooked meat stew that is typically prepared in a special clay pot of the same name, called a Tanjia.
The dish is usually made with lamb or beef, although some variations may use chicken or other meats.
To prepare Tanjia, the meat is marinated overnight in a blend of spices such as cumin, paprika, saffron, and garlic, along with preserved lemon and olive oil.
The following day, the marinated meat is placed in the Tanjia clay pot, along with onions, tomatoes, and sometimes chickpeas.
The pot is then sealed with a layer of parchment paper and a layer of dough made from flour and water, which helps to trap the moisture and flavors inside the pot.
The pot is then taken to a local oven called a faran and left to cook slowly for several hours.
The result is a delicious and tender meat stew that is rich in flavor and aroma, with a slightly smoky taste from the clay pot.
Tanjia is typically served with bread or couscous and is often enjoyed with friends and family on special occasions or as a weekend meal.
Briouat is a popular Moroccan food that is made by filling thin pastry dough with a savory or sweet filling, then folding the dough into a triangle or cylinder shape and frying it until crispy.
The fillings can vary widely and may include ground beef, chicken, or lamb as well as vegetables such as spinach, eggplant, or carrots.
For a sweet version, the filling could be made of almonds and honey.
Briouats are typically served as an appetizer or snack, and they are often a popular dish during Ramadan. In addition to the traditional fried version, there are also baked and vegetarian variations available.
The pastry dough used to make briouats is known as warqa or warka, which is similar to phyllo dough but thinner and more delicate.
It can be quite difficult to work with and requires a bit of skill to get the folding and shaping just right. Once cooked, the briouats are usually dusted with powdered sugar or sprinkled with cinnamon.
Makouda is a popular street food in Morocco that is made from mashed potatoes that are mixed with various herbs and spices, formed into patties, and then fried until crispy on the outside.
While the recipe for Makouda can vary from region to region and from family to family, the most common ingredients used include potatoes, cilantro, parsley, garlic, cumin, and paprika.
To make Makouda, first, the potatoes are boiled until they are soft and then mashed with a fork or potato masher.
Next, the mashed potatoes are mixed with the herbs and spices, along with some breadcrumbs and a beaten egg to help bind everything together.
The mixture is then formed into small patties or balls, which are coated in more breadcrumbs before being deep-fried until golden brown and crispy.
Makouda can be enjoyed on its own as a snack or appetizer, or it can be served as part of a larger meal alongside other Moroccan dishes like tagine or couscous.
Some people also like to dip their Makouda in a spicy harissa sauce or a creamy yogurt dip.
13. Ras el hanout
Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that is widely used in North African cuisine.
The name ras el hanout translates to head of the shop in Arabic, indicating that it is a blend of the best spices that a particular spice merchant has to offer.
The exact composition of ras el hanout can vary widely depending on the spice merchant and the region, but it typically contains a combination of spices such as cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, cloves and nutmeg.
Other ingredients that may be included are rose petals, turmeric, chili peppers, and black pepper.
Ras el hanout is used as a seasoning for a variety of Moroccan dishes, such as tagines (stews), couscous, and grilled meats.
It is often rubbed onto meat before grilling or added to vegetable dishes to add a complex and aromatic flavor.
Due to the variety of spices used in ras el hanout, it has a warm, slightly sweet, and aromatic flavor that is both complex and intense.
It is an essential ingredient in many Moroccan dishes and is often used in combination with other spices to create a unique flavor profile.
B’ssara is a traditional Moroccan dish that is typically made from dried fava beans that have been cooked and blended into a smooth soup or dip.
The dish is often seasoned with spices such as cumin, paprika, and garlic, and served with bread.
To prepare B’ssara, dried fava beans are soaked overnight and then cooked with water until they are tender.
The cooked beans are then blended with garlic, spices, and olive oil to create a smooth and creamy consistency.
The soup is typically served hot, garnished with olive oil, paprika, and fresh herbs.
B’ssara is a nutritious and hearty dish that is often enjoyed as a breakfast or lunch food in Morocco. It is also a popular dish during Ramadan, when it is served as a filling meal to help break the day’s fast.
15. Hammas Kamoun
Hammas Kamoun is a popular Moroccan street food dish that is typically served as a snack or light meal.
It consists of boiled chickpeas that are seasoned with a blend of spices, including cumin, paprika, and chili powder.
The dish is often served with bread, olives, and harissa, a spicy sauce made from chili peppers.
Street foods to try in Morocco
1. Sugar-coated peanuts
Sugar-coated peanuts are a popular Moroccan street food that is typically sold in small paper cones by street vendors.
The peanuts are first roasted in a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and water until the sugar caramelizes and forms a crispy coating around the peanuts.
The result is a sweet and crunchy snack that is perfect for satisfying a sweet tooth on the go.
2. Moroccan harcha
Moroccan harcha is a popular street food in Morocco that is typically consumed for breakfast or as a snack.
It is a type of pan-fried bread made from semolina flour, butter, and milk, with a crispy exterior and a soft, fluffy interior.
3. Sugar cane juice
Sugar cane juice is a popular drink in many parts of the world, including Morocco, where it is a common street food.
The juice is made by crushing sugar cane stalks in a machine to extract the sweet juice.
In Morocco, vendors often set up small stands or carts on busy streets or in marketplaces, where they sell freshly squeezed sugar cane juice to passersby.
The juice is usually served over ice and can be enjoyed plain or with the addition of lemon juice, mint, or other flavors.
Zitoun Moroccan street food is a type of food that originates from Morocco and is typically sold from street vendors or small food stalls.
The cuisine of Morocco is known for its unique blend of spices, which includes cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and paprika, among others.
Zitoun Moroccan street food typically includes dishes such as tagine, couscous, harira soup, bissara soup, and various types of grilled meats such as kebabs and lamb chops.
These dishes are often served with a variety of breads, including khobz and msemen, which are both traditional Moroccan breads.
Chfanj is a popular Moroccan street food that is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
It is a type of deep-fried dough that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, similar to a fritter or a beignet.
Ghlal Moroccan street food is a type of Moroccan cuisine that is popular in the streets of Morocco. It is often served as a quick and easy meal that can be eaten on the go.
Ghlal is a type of bread that is commonly used in Moroccan cuisine, and it is typically filled with various ingredients to create a savory and flavorful meal.
Some common fillings for Ghlal Moroccan street food include grilled or roasted meats such as chicken or lamb, vegetables like onions and tomatoes, and a variety of spices and sauces.
It is often served with a side of Harissa, a spicy red pepper paste that is popular in North African cuisine.
Ghlal Moroccan street food can be found in various places throughout Morocco, including food carts, markets, and street vendors.
It is a beloved part of Moroccan food culture and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
Are there any famous Moroccan street foods to try?
Yes, there are several famous Moroccan street foods to try, including msemen (a type of pancake often eaten for breakfast), merguez (spicy lamb sausages usually served in a sandwich), and snails cooked in a spicy broth.
Are there any vegetarian or vegan options available in Moroccan cuisine?
Yes, there are several vegetarian and vegan options available in Moroccan cuisine, including vegetable tagine, couscous with vegetables, harira soup without meat, and several salads such as zaalouk (cooked eggplant and tomato salad) and taktouka (cooked pepper and tomato salad).
What are some traditional Moroccan drinks to try?
Some traditional Moroccan drinks to try include mint tea (sweet green tea with fresh mint leaves), avocado smoothies, and a variety of fresh fruit juices such as orange and pomegranate juice.
Are there any regional specialties to try in Morocco?
Yes, there are several regional specialties to try in Morocco.
For example, in Marrakech, you can try tangia, a slow-cooked meat dish, and in the coastal city of Essaouira, you can try grilled seafood.
In the northern city of Chefchaouen, you can try a variety of goat cheese dishes.