See different parts of the world through their cuisines! Today we are exploring the very famous Moroccan food. Read on to know more!
Morocco is a beautiful country in North Africa. It’s just a few hours away from the European cities. It is well known for its rich heritage and is majorly famous as an African Muslim country. I just grabbed this topic of Moroccan food that my fellow SlubTeam mates also wanted to write about!
This country has always been on my bucket list and knowing their food culture in depth is something I always wanted to do. There’s a hint of so many cultures in their food. And I’m surprised that I have tried a few here in India. So let’s check out all there is to know about Moroccan food!
What is Moroccan Food?
According to Wikipedia, “Moroccan food is a mixture of Arabic, Andalusian, Berber and Mediterranean cuisines with a slight European and Subsaharan influence.”
Moroccan food explores subtle but multiple flavors, combining rare ones like sweet with spicy thus creating delectable, wholesome unexpected accompaniments!
History of Moroccan Cuisine
Moroccan cuisine is diversified and is considered one of the important cuisines of the world. There are traces of colonizers and immigrants who have left their mark in many ways. The rich diversified flavors constitute for the same reason. The Arab invasion brought spices, nuts and dry fruits. Their impact is so strong that even to this day, Moroccan cuisine has the sweet and sour combinations in dishes like tagine with dates and lamb.
The food of the first inhabitants, the Berbers still exists in dishes like tagine and couscous. The Moors introduced olives, olive juices and citrus. The Ottoman Empire introduced barbeque. The French colony left behind the culture of cafes, pastries and wine.
Moroccan Traditions in Cooking
Traditionally, there are five meals in the Moroccan cuisine. Breakfast is served early in the morning and a second breakfast is had mid-morning. Lunch is served at the noon or late in the afternoon, there’s a break for tea and bread. Finally, dinner is served in the night.
What Spices are Used in Moroccan Cooking?
A variety of spices are used in Moroccan food. Ginger, cumin, black pepper, saffron are a few basic spices. In fact, cumin is considered one of the most important ingredients in Moroccan cuisine. It is served on the table along with salt and pepper.
Cinnamon is used in tagines and fruit salads. Paprika and Sahara chiles are used to spice up tomato-based dishes. Cardamom is used in creamy desserts. Sesame seeds are used in pastries. Cloves are sometimes used while preparing broth.
Cooking with Saffron
The south of Morocco is a source of pure saffron, which is used in food, tea and herbal medicine. Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. It lends a golden hue color that’s used usually for rice dishes.
The flavor is authentic and sublime. Saffron chicken is a must-try in Morocco. Try Moroccan recipes like Moroccan stew with cashews, saffron and currants and Morrocan lamb tagine with saffron.
Figs, dates, harissa chutney, goat cheese, beetroot salad and preserved lemons are a few of the Moroccan condiments.
Traditional Moroccan Food
The authentic Moroccan food is famous for exotic seasoning, subtle spices and unique flavor combinations. The traditional foods are:
1. Tagine – Vegetables cooked in a clay pot
2. Harira – Tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas and lamb soup
3. Kefta Tagine – Beef or lamb minced with garlic, coriander and parsley and rolled into balls
4. Couscous – Fine wheat pasta traditionally rolled by hand steamed over vegetables or meat
5. Makouda – Little deep-fried potato balls dipped into harrisa sauce
6. Zaalouka – Smoked aubergine dip, seasoned with garlic, paprika, cumin and a chilli powder
7. Mint tea.
Moroccan Staple Food
Moroccan dishes are universally delicious and lip-smacking. Here are the most famous staple foods of Morocco:
1. Bread: Bread is one of the most basic staples in any Moroccan household. Young girls learn to bake at a very young age. The cooking method may vary from house to house. However, it is usually a circular flatbread and is baked using whatever grains are locally grown. Breakfast includes bread with butter or jam.
2. Tea: Tea is a big part of Moroccan diet. It is also the national drink of Morocco. It is served at breakfast, snacktime and as an after drink post lunch and dinner. Moroccans are obsessed with too much sugar in their tea. However, a visitor might find it too sweet but it’s a must-try!
3. Tagine: This name actually comes from the clay pot that it is used to cook and serve. Tagine is a thick stew of seasonal vegetables.
4. Couscous: This is the national food of Morocco. The couscous is placed into a steamer above a pot of boiled vegetables.
Street Food in Marrakech
The street food is quite vast and includes various sweets to breakfast and snacks. The Moroccan food names are local and difficult to pronounce but the taste matters the most. From sandwiches to pastries, Moroccan street food has so much to offer. Let’s check ’em out!
1. Msemen: Pan fried square shaped msemen (flatbreads) are popular in Morocco. They’re dipped in a sweet syrup.
2. Beghrir: These are spongy semolina pancakes and are sweetened with honey or jam.
3. Moroccan Bread: Bread is a must have food in Morocco. Whether at home or restaurants or street food, bread is a staple food. Anise and sesame seed bread are pretty famous.
4. Harira: It is a classic tomato, chickpea and lentil soup. I have tried it at a friend’s place and its so delicious my mouth’s already watering!
5. Moroccan Eggs with Khili: Eggs fried with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper with khilli (preserved meat) are delicious.
6. Bocadillo: Sandwiches are yet another famous street food in Morocco. The Spanish influenced hoagie is filled with tuna, boiled potatoes and olives.
7. Moroccan Style Chicken Shawarma: There are different types and styles of the shawarma in Morocco. Thinly cut strips of tender meat are marinated with spices and stuffed into bread that’s in the shape of an inverted cone.
8. Stewed Lentils: Who said street food can’t be healthy?! This affordable food is super delicious and nutritious, too!
The Moroccan Restaurant Experience
Food should be on top of your list while visiting Morocco. One should also know that most of the Moroccan restaurants, too, like any household, don’t provide eating utensils. One needs to eat with their hands. Also, the servers will provide a terry cloth tea towel or a pot of water to wash hands before and after the meal.
Top 10 Moroccan Dishes
Harira, baghrir, zaalouk, couscous, bissara, briouat, pastilla, tajine, méchoui, rfissa are the top 10 Moroccan dishes. Also, find some of our favorite popular recipes down below!
Breakfast in Morocco is usually bread and jam. But since they have the habit of double breakfast, you can stay full until lunchtime. I guess I should also succumb to this practice so I don’t drain out of energy during office hours!
1. B’ssara – Fava bean soup
2. Fried eggs with olives
3. Msemen – Square shaped flatbread
4. Khlea – Dried meat and egg
5. Mortadella – Packaged meat with bread
6. Variety of fruits
7. Loubia – Cooked beans served with warm bread
8. Sfenj – Deep fried Morrocan fritter
9. Harcha – Morrocan bread made of semolina flour
10. Bagrir – Spongy bread cum pancake
11. Omeletes and boiled eggs served with cumin and salt are common.
Usually, Moroccans feed their guests with a full course meal, it’s rare to find someone offering just the appetizers. But there are a few finger licking items that you should try for your next party.
1. Moroccan olives
2. Edam cheese
3. Sausage stuffed croissants
4. Cheese and olive pastries
5. Olive tapenade – Pureed or finely chopped olives
6. Stuffed msemen – Stuffed pancake
7. Stuffed harcha – Stuffedsemolinaa bread
8. Moroccon style puff pastry,
9. Moroccan dips
10. Vegetarian berber – Stuffed flatbread pizza.
Poultry is common in Morocco. Here are a few must-try dishes:
1. Moroccan chicken with green olives
2. Grilled chicken
3. Chicken briouats – Stuffed chicken in a cone shape bread
4. Spiced chicken with quinoa and lemon zest
5. Pomegranate chicken with couscous salad
6. Lemon and garlic chicken with couscous
7. Chicken tagine with figs and couscous
8. Harissa chicken with couscous
Fruits of Morocco
Apples, avocado, bananas, kiwi, plums, grapes, pomegranate and oranges are the Moroccan favorites!
Moroccan Recipes to Try
Here are a few Moroccan food recipes that are easy to try and taste the best!
1. Spicy Moroccan Rice
Coat 4 skinless chicken breasts (diced) with 1 tbsp of Moroccan spice. Fry 1 finely diced onion in 50g of butter. Then shift it to a plate and cook the chicken for a few minutes. Stir in 300g of rice and 12-15 dried and halved apricots. Then pour chicken stock with 700ml boiling water and the chickpeas. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes until the rice is tender. Top it with parsley leaves.
2. Moroccan Turkey Salad
Tear 2 pita bread into pieces and fry in 2 tbsp of olive oil. Shift into a bowl and fry 1 diced aubergine for 10 minutes until soft. Add the pita with 1 tbsp of harissa, 250g halved cherry tomatoes, 500g shredded turkey, and 100g of rocket leaves. Toss well. Top it with pomegranate seeds and mint leaves.
3. Spiced Bulgur Wheat with Roasted Peppers
In a large microwave proof bowl, combine 200g of bulgar wheat with 250ml of hot vegetable stock. Cover and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Cover and set aside. It will absorb the stock in 5-6 minutes.
Make a dressing with spice mix (½ tsp Moroccan spice mix, or large pinches of ground cumin and ground cinnamon), one lemon zest and juice of half lemon. Add half red onion, 400g drained chickpeas, 200g roasted pepper, and a small bunch of coriander leaves. Toss through the cooked bulgur wheat and serve warm or cold.
4. Moroccan Chickpea Soup
Heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a large pan. Fry one medium onion and 2 celery sticks gently for 10 minutes until softened. Fry 2tsp ground cumin separately. Turn up the heat and add 500ml of hot vegetable stock, 400g tomatoes and 400g chickpeas. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add 100g broad beans and lemon juice and cook for 2 minutes. Top it with herbs and serve with flatbread.
5. Moroccan Spiced Carrots
Place 500g carrots (halved and cut into thin rounds) in a steamer over a pan of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil, harrisa paste, lemin juice and top it with coriander leaves.
So, did you like Moroccan food? Have you tried it? Are you gonna try the recipes at home? Let us know by tweeting @shilpa1ahuja!
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Sahana is a Senior Staff Writer at ShilpaAhuja.com. With an experience in fashion and lifestyle writing, Sahana is responsible for Indian and international fashion week coverage every year, and is developing an expertise in apparel trend forecasting. She also writes about health and fitness, having pursued yoga for 6 years now. She’s not a gym person at all but is all for “running in the park” and is an amateur cyclist. Books and coffee are her other passions. She’s also an amateur photographer. She’s a hardcore Bollywood fan and she loves to cover the nostalgic topics on the same. From fashion trends to famous characters, she can make anyone love Bollywood! Her best article has been 90s Bollywood fashion, a readers’ favorite so far! Prior to her experience with ShilpaAhuja.com, Sahana has written as a freelance author for online magazine, Mashup Corner, and interned at EventsHigh as a content writer. Her blogs on basic fashion, makeup, fitness and city’s food joints that gave her a chance to experiment with her writing. She also has voiced her opinions about feminism and equal rights for men and women at PolkaCafe journals and after quitting her job, she decided to take up writing as her full time career.
Sahana is an engineering graduate and has worked in an MNC, Tesco, for more than a year as an Operations Support. It was her sheer love for fashion that made her quit the monotonous 9 to 5 job to pursue a career in the fashion industry. She’s originally from Bangalore and is currently settled in Chennai (she’s loving the city)! For any queries and discussions, contact her at [email protected] You can also tweet her at https://twitter.com/Sahana_17