My 5 Favourite Moroccan Specialties
Well-known around the globe, Moroccan cuisine is undoubtedly one of the best in the world. Morocco’s unique flavours and cooking techinques have inspired a unknowable number of chefs from diverse nationalities. I’ve fortunately had the chance to travel through Morocco and to taste the delicious spices of Moroccan cuisine for myself, and it was clear during my trip that food is an integral part of the culture and traditions of North Africa. I found the diversity of tastes amazing and deliciously representative of all the cuisine’s influences: a mix of Arabic, Berber, Moorish, French, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean African, Iberian, and Jewish.
I think that the variety of flavours in Moroccan drinks and food is so unique that you can only truly find it in this region. They use a lot of spices such as cayenne, saffron, chilies, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cumin, paprika, and black pepper, which characterise the strong flavours and aromas of their cuisine. It is common in Morocco to combine sweet and savoury, and they add dried fruit to many of their dishes, such as apricots, dates, figs, and raisins. Moroccan bread is another key component in their diet, to the extent that the Berbers of the Rif Mountains almost entirely sustain themselves on bread. I am French, so obviously this was an interesting fact for me even if their bread is quite different!
If you are ever in the country, don’t leave before trying my favourite Moroccan specialities:
1. Tajine: This is one of the most popular dishes in Morocco. Meat is mixed with vegetables and cooked in a special tajine pot at very low temperatures. The result is a tender meat with an unctuous sauce. The most of the time it is cooked with dry fruits such as grapes or almond. Not all Moroccan families cook the tajine in the same way, there is a traditional recipe in each family which is passed on from one generation to the next.
2. Couscous: Known as Seksu or Sikuk in Arabic, this is an emblematic dish of Morocco. Prepared with fruits, meat and vegetables, it requires a long time to be well-cooked. The most important element is the semolina, to cook it right is an art and it requires real skills, it is a lengthy process. In the Berber tradition, couscous is served with a bowl of buttermilk.
3. Harira: This is a traditional Moroccan soup prepared with tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas and lamb. During Ramadan, Moroccan Muslims usually eat this soup to break their fast. This is another traditional Berber dish used most of the time as an appetizer.
4. Dessert: Moroccan people eat a lot of fruits for dessert because of the hot weather and because Morocco is a such a big producer of fruits. Moreover, they cook a lot of delicious pastries with honey such as the gazelle horn, Moroccan snake cake, baked almond stuffed pastry coated with sugar and cinnamon, briouats and Moroccan coconut cookies. These types of dishes are served in Morocco for special celebrations like weddings, birthdays, etc..
5. Mint Tea: Known as the ‘Moroccan whisky’, mint tea is a traditional beverage in Morocco. Moroccans drink it several times a day. It is usually heavily sweetened with sugar and it is poured into a tea glass from a height to create a froth. According to the Moroccan tradition, when girls serve this tea correctly, they are considered “ready for marriage”.