Moroccan moments - traditional Moroccan cuisine
Moroccan food is already pretty popular in the UK, as any fan of a good tagine and cous cous will tell you. The mix of strong flavours and healthy ingredients has created a balance of taste and nutrition that we adore. Of course, your trip to Morocco will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the cuisine, so it’s a good idea to brush up on your knowledge before you fly off for your break.
Both sweets and savouries are covered in our overview of Morocco’s most delicious delicacies – don’t blame us if you read this and wind up with a rumbling tummy.
Hashtaggin' that tagine
Tagine is one of Morocco‘s most famous foods, yet its name actually applies to the distinctive clay-lidded pot that is used to cook the lovely tucker within. You’ll see them all over Morocco, from simmering street stands to even the most upmarket restaurants.
Tagines, also sometimes spelt as tajines, have always served as the culinary heart of every Moroccan household. That’s partly why the dishes you’ll find served up in them are so lusciously rustic, from carrot stews to plum and egg broths cradling a mouthwatering flank of lamb.
Beef and chicken often find their way into these earthenware treasure-troves of flavour too, although vegetarians needn’t fear. Steamed potato and vegetable dishes, or even crumbly pastries around fruit pies dusted with almonds, speak volumes on the versatility of the humble tagine.
Not your average liquid lunch
Morocco is close to the Mediterranean, but its food also has roots in Arabic culture and the history of the Maghreb region – to you and me that’s all the Northern Africa countries west of Egypt. Moroccans have far from made a meal of that mix of cultures though, unless you mean the delicious meals they start their day with.
A case in point is the cheap and hearty b’ssara. It’s a broad bean soup with a swish of olive oil, some added cumin sprinkles and a big, freshly baked bread roll. The traditional breakfast of Morocco, once you’ll try it, you’ll see why they insist on making it the first meal of the day.
Breads are a huge part of Moroccan cuisine altogether though, most often seen in flatbreads served with almost every meal. In Morocco, it’s customary to eat with your dominant hand, and much like the tapas of Spain, many of the meals they cook up here have been designed to be finger-foods.
That said, the bread serves a vital role – pun intended – as a means by which to scoop up some of your meal and deliver it to your hungry mouth. Dabbing at the rich sauces with some crusty goodness is very much encouraged.
Succulent street food
The most inventive of Morocco’s meals are often found while you’re out and about, and the street stalls are famous for their light bites and rich flavours. If snail broth and skewered lamb liver chunks feel a little too exotic though, just plump for some tasty makouda, which are deep-fried balls of potato, often paired with harissa sauce.
And for dessert, street vendors are always more than happy to serve up some ring doughnuts, which are linked together on a cord rather than dropped into a bag. It makes for a much more fun way to carry them home.
Time for tea
Mint tea is at the heart of every Moroccan meal. In fact, it’s such a big part of life here that, if you make friends with a shopkeeper, they might just share their own tea with you as a welcoming gesture.
Every dish is savoured with this refreshing tea, which is traditionally poured with precision from higher up from the glass than you might be used to back home. That’s because it’s believed that allowing the tea to meet the air on its way down to the glass awakens the flavours all the more.
The fact they prefer glasses to cups is another commitment to the striking taste of Moroccan mint tea, but they won’t deny you the chance to sweeten yours with sugar if that’s how you prefer it.