Moroccan food in Morocco

How To Experience Moroccan Food in Morocco – 10 Must-Try Traditional Dishes That Are Not Tajines.

Moroccan food in Morocco and abroad, is known to be one of the most sought for culinary experience. It’s blend of Mediterranean, African, Jewish, and Berber ingredients have made its mouthwatering dishes so famous in the world, more so lately than ever before thanks to Instagram, Gordon Ramsay and of course, Hollywood. 

We’ve all heard of the tagines of Morocco. We’ve all tried the famous couscous or experimented with the Moroccan herbs and spice mixes. We’ve had many occasions where we came across Moroccan cookbooks or online recipes and made some not-so-bad Moroccan goodies.

However, we never really had the chance to truly understand how delicious Moroccan food in Morocco is until we moved to the country and started getting invited to Moroccan family homes – We realised, we can’t compare the incomparable!

Moroccan homes are the only authentic culinary experience you can truly have on your trip to Morocco; food is such an essential part of the Moroccan lifestyle. In my experience, Living in Europe and the U.S, I’ve found it so different that meals throughout the day don’t have as much importance as dinner. However, in Morocco, breakfast and lunch are just as important.

Moroccan homes are the only authentic culinary experience you can truly have on your trip to Morocco; food is such an essential part of the Moroccan lifestyle. In my experience, Living in Europe and the U.S, I’ve found it so different that meals throughout the day don’t have as much importance as dinner. However, in Morocco, breakfast and lunch are just as important. 

Food & Lifestyle – What it’s like to eat as a Moroccan? 

Let’s start with breakfast! Marrakech is known to be the place to go for royal breakfasts. In the morning, you’ll find so many stalls in the Medina selling different soups, omelettes, pancakes, etc. Lunch in Morocco is a different story, school kids for example don’t have lunch breaks; they have a two hours break where they can go home and have lunch with their family and a little power nap after! 

In the old Medina, you’ll see plenty of kids running around with a big platter full of fresh bread dough; they are on their way from school to a communal oven to drop bread to be baked and ready by lunchtime.  One thing we have to keep in mind is that Moroccans don’t necessarily eat out, maybe now and then for a convenient lunch next to office, or if they’re on vacation.However, as long as the house has a Moroccan mom, there is no way they will be ordering Moroccan food in Morocco.

Moms in Morocco are really good at making sure everyone in the house, including the guests, have some healthy and yummy food to eat every day, and so, take-out is almost offensive. This has only proved our conclusion that to experience the authentic Moroccan food in Morocco truly, you need to go to a Moroccan home, no questions asked. 

Moroccan food in Morocco

And so, we’ve decided to put all of our mighty energy and resources into scouting the closest experiences to learn about Moroccan cuisine, like a local. 

This wasn’t an easy task; Moroccans are one of the most hospitable people in the world; however, they are very private people. And so we made it a mission to find some Moroccan moms who can introduce us to some Moroccan recipes that are only made at home, or to our luck, give us the privilege to be invited to their homes and share some culinary wonder with us. 

Not only Moroccan women are good in the kitchen. Moroccan Chef Faycal Bettioui has just received a Michelin Star a few months ago, a culinary award that many chefs around the world are dreaming of. Faycal, studying computer sciences in the U.S, obviously has multiple talents; however, he does praise his mother for teaching him the art of the culinary.

He’s grown to open restaurants abroad that fuse Moroccan cuisine with international elements; his multicultural cuisine has impressed many around the world. 

Moroccan cuisine definitely deserves a lot more than just a list of 10 dishes, however, if you’re here for a short time, definitely give these yummy meals a try. 

1. The Tangia Experience. 

Don’t confuse this with Tajines (did you know that tajine is actually the clay pot, not the dish – there are so many kinds of tajine dishes that can be cooked in a tajine, the pot.) A tanjia pot, however, is a tall, jug looking clay pot that looks a little like a Greek urn.

Tanjia is a strictly Marrakchi dish. It’s known to be the bachelor’s dish because it’s cooked mainly by single men. The other reason is that it’s the only Moroccan food in Morocco that doesn’t require a kitchen. You can find Tanjia in some restaurants, and they try to serve it the local way. However, if you’re adventurous, here are the steps to make a true Marrakchi Tanjia. 

Step 1
Go to the Medina and find a local souk
Step 2
Spot the Tanjia pot shops and get yourself a tanjia (less than five bucks)
Step 3
Find the spice guy, those giant pyramid-shaped spices will show you the way! Buy preserved lemon, Safran, garlic, cumin, and turmeric. Ask him to add some water, a splash of olive oil, and a dollop of smen (a type of fermented butter, similar to ghee) Don’t worry; your spice guy knows the measurements.
Step 4
Head to a butcher, when he sees you walking with your Tanjia pot, he already knows what you need, thin slices of beef or lamb meat.
Step 5
Find a hammam nearby, they usually have furnaces underground that keep the hammam just in the right temperature, up to 40 degrees Celsius in the hot room. Other than that, their other job is to slow cook the Tanjias in the furnace (from 4 up to 12 hours) every day.
Step 6
Leave your Tanjia pot and come collect it when it feels right. The longer it stays cooking, the more tender and delicious the meat gets.

This dish is one of the most favourites meals I’ve had in the country, and I encourage you to make your own, costs less than 10 USD, offers a cultural experience and leaves your tummy happy the whole day.

2. The Famous Couscous. 

Couscous is the grain. However, there are several ways to make the dish in Morocco. The most common is couscous with beef/lamb and seven vegetables. You can also encounter couscous with the head of the lamb (served in many ceremonies and celebrations), couscous with fish, couscous with the sweet and savoury sauce made with lentils and onions etc.

Couscous is usually served on Fridays after prayer (around 1-2 pm). Most restaurants will serve the dish on Fridays; however, if you want to try a real couscous, I recommend to opt for a homestay, the best couscous is made by Moroccan moms, no questions asked. If you would like a similar experience in Marrakech, go to Amal Women Center, a non-profit that empowers Moroccan women and teaches them the art of the culinary, this is probably the closest experience you can have to a couscous made at home.

3. Zaalouk, The Passe-Partout.  

Moroccan food in Morocco

 Zaalouk is cooked eggplant and tomato sauce pure that’s usually served warm or cold as a dip with bread. This dish is often underrated; however, it’s one of the most delicious and simplest Moroccan dishes. If you go to local restaurants, you will probably be served this as a starter, if not ask for it!

It’s an easy-to-make recipe if you’re up for the challenge, you can use this dish as a sauce for pasta, as a dip with crackers and as a main if you add some ground beef with it, it would taste heavenly!

4. Rfissa, also called Medhoussa or Trid. 

Rfissa is a popular dish in Morocco which is served during all sort of celebrations, primary during weddings. The most authentic Rfissa is served with stewed chicken, lentils and fenugreek seeds. Then, small pieces of bread or meloui form the base of the dish.

Rfissa is often served for family parties. Traditionally, it’s also served during the birth of the baby. Fenugreek seeds are believed to offer a nursing mother many health benefits. Most restaurants do not necessarily serve this dish, however, if you find it on the menu, definitely give it a try! 

5. The Royal Moroccan Breakfasts.

We can’t talk about Moroccan food in Morocco without mentioning the diverse breakfasts served differently in every corner of the country.

In the Atlas Mountains, you’ll be served barley or full corn bread with olive oil, olives and tea. In the north, you’ll be served sunny side up eggs with olives, olive oil and charcuterie, if you go to Fes for example, you will have scrambled eggs with Khlii, a dry meat equivalent to beef jerky, but way tastier. If you go to Agadir, you will have a selection of breads with Amlou, Argan oil, olives, etc.

6. The Moorish Pastilla. 

Pastilla is an Andalusian dish, server in Moorish Morocco since centuries ago. It’s a sweet and savoury meat/fish/chicken pie-like dish that comes wrapped in similar leaves as the phyllo dough. If you’re into savoury and sweet, Pastilla will leave you craving for more.

The recipe requires many spices, and so it’s not so easy to make: cinnamon, saffron, nutmeg, ginger, nuts, dried fruits. It’s one of those dishes that overwhelms you, and so pick a decent local restaurant and get yourself a pastilla as the Moors did. If you’re lucky, maybe you’re invited to a Moroccan wedding where you can have an authentic one, otherwise, most local restaurants serve this dish. 

7. Harira, With or Without You?

Moroccan food in Morocco

Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup made of tomato, lentils and chickpeas. Rich with flavour, it’s definitely one of the most recommended street foods in Morocco, you can also find it in restaurants as a starter. It’s served every day when breaking the fast during Ramadan.

Many find the meal incomplete without the Harira. It’s a popular offering in Moroccan homes and restaurants, and you can even find it sold as street food too. It’s mostly seasoned with ginger, cinnamon and pepper and fresh herbs: cilantro, parsley, celery and onion. You can find the recipe here

8. Mechoui, The Whole Roasted Lamb. 

Mechoui is roasted lamb. Often, a whole lamb will be placed in a furnace for several hours until the meat is as tender as butter. To keep the flavour intact, the only seasoning used is salt and a dash of cumin. In Marrakech, there is a whole alleyway in the Medina dedicated to Mechoui, once you get to the square, ask about Mechoui, and you’ll be directed straight there.

The restaurants have a hole in the ground floor that acts as a furnace. The lamb is wrapped with a rope to keep the heat centralized, then placed with a long stick underground in low temperature. When you reach the restaurant, ask them to see the Mechoui, and they will take you to where the hole is, open the hatch and you’ll find plenty of whole lambs sizzling and cooking all day and night. They sell per kilo; half a kilo is enough usually for 2-3 people.

9. Camel Meat Burger – Humpy Meal?

Moroccan food in Morocco

Not a typical burger, the meat is quite rough compared to beef; however, if you enjoy bizarre foods and never had camel meat in your life, this is a must-try in Morocco. Although the camel meat is often sold in most souks and grilled, camel burger is hard to find.

There are only a few places that serve American style camel burger. If you’re in Fes or Marrakech, you can find it at Cafe Clock, an excellent concept restaurant that serves all sort of Moroccan dishes with a twist. It’s also a cultural cafe that hosts events, workshops etc. and so hit them up and see what they have coming up — enjoying camel burger while watching Moroccan folklore bands or storytellers.

 

10. Amlou, The Dip that Gives You Superpowers!

Amlou, or Amlou is a dip usually served in the south of Morocco. Think of peanut butter, but a way better version and much healthier. This superfood is a spread made with almonds, argan oil and pure honey. All mixed together delicately to make a mouthwatering spread.

The dip is often used with Msemmen, a Moroccan crepe-like crispy bread. You can also use it with any kind of bread and crackers. It goes really well with goat cheese, and so if you like sweet and savoury, this is definitely a must-try on your Morocco vacation. (remember to take as much as you can carry with you back home).

Curious of what kind of Morocco food ideas and experiences we have? send us a message on WhatsApp and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

check Tom’s Immersive Journey across the country.  And find out why he decided to visit Morocco!  Follow us on instagram to see our 3000 kms bike tour.

Discover our journey with Roque & Soul  and find out how we inspired them to start a kitten funding campaign for the cats of Essaouira with the help of a small local dedicated team.

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