Aromatic and exotic, Moroccan cuisine combines with multi-cultural influences to create savory and authentic dishes. From traditional to street food and sweets, here’s a look at some of Morocco’s most popular and delicious culinary creations.
The cuisine of Morocco is just as diverse and eclectic as its people. Many traditional dishes are infused with a variety of exotic and aromatic spices.
The culture of Morocco is clearly reflected in its cuisine. Moroccan cuisine combines a mix of multi-cultural influences from Amazigh (Berbers) to Arabic, Persian to Jewish, Andalusian, and other Mediterranean countries. The Amazigh introduced cooking with dates and figs. The Arabs brought spices from the Middle East along with breads and grains. The Jews introduced preservation and pickling techniques while the bastilla was inspired by Andalusian cooking. More recently, influences are coming from European countries.
Native food products of Morocco include dates, figs, almonds, olives, and lemons. Moroccan dishes are flavored with an assortment of herbs and spices. The most common spices used in Moroccan cuisine are cumin, cinnamon, paprika, saffron, cayenne pepper, sesame seeds, coriander, nutmeg, caraway, and anise.
Here is a short guide to the cuisine of Morocco and beverages.
Traditional and Popular Dishes from Cuisine of Morocco
A tagine is the name of the clay cooking pot with a conical lid that slow cooks the ingredients. These stews use meats ranging from lamb, beef or chicken, nuts paired with vegetables or fruit. Popular versions of this dish are chicken with preserved lemon and olives, lamb or beef with prunes, and chicken or lamb with apricots.
Couscous is originally from Morocco. Couscous is a fine, semolina wheat pasta traditionally rolled by hand. It usually accompanies meats and vegetables. It’s light, fluffy and simply delicious!
A sweet and salty, flaky meat pot pie traditionally made with pigeon meat, but these days chicken is a favored alternative.
Take your pick of fresh and delicious fish: sardines, mackeral, anchovies, monkfish, merlan, etc. Chermoula is a tangy marinade of herbs and spices that brings out the natural flavors of the fish.
Moroccan meatballs made with ground lamb or beef packed with cumin, onion, paprika and herbs. It is usually grilled and served with couscous.
Soups and Salads
A healthy and hearty soup of tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas and lamb plus a mix of delicious spices. It has a rich flavor and delicious aroma. Harira is traditionally served during Ramadan to break the fast.
A thick and hearty fava bean soup that is usually eaten at breakfast as it gives energy for the day ahead.
A cooked, zesty aubergine and tomato salad served warm or cold accompanied with fresh bread.
Green leaves of a mallow plant are steamed and sautéed with olive oil and spices then garnished with olives and preserved lemon slices.
Served hot or cold, this zesty combo of roasted bell peppers sautéed in olive oil with garlic, chili peppers, paprika, chopped tomates and lemon juice is sure to please the palate.
Generally, Moroccans tend to eat fruit for dessert but sometimes they give in to their sweet tooth and indulge! Moroccan desserts are incredibly delicious and unique. Sweet, savory and often sticky, you will want to try them all!
The most common ingredients include almonds, orange blossom water and honey. During the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, special desserts are prepared to celebrate, but anytime is a great time to enjoy dessert.
Fried cookies made from a semolina wheat dough mixed with orange blossom water and filled with a sweet date paste then dipped in honey.
Kaab el Ghazal/Gazelle Horns
A crescent shaped pastry with a thin shell that is filled with a sweet almond paste made with cinnamon, sugar and orange blossom water. Can be served plain or glazed with honey or powdered sugar.
A deep fried, flower shaped honey cookie topped with honey and sesame seeds.
Moroccan shortbread cookies. Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside and perfectly crumbly. Ghoriba is usually made with almonds or walnuts, honey and powdered sugar.
A crispy, layered dessert made of paper-thin sheets of warqa pastry that is filled with toasted almonds and covered with an orange blossom water flavored custard cream topped with powdered sugar, cinnamon chopped almonds, fresh fruit or mint.
Bread is a staple at every meal in Morocco and there are several, delicious varieties to try. Here are a few of the most common:
Khobz is a hearty, round, flatbread and is the most common. Similar to pita bread and sometimes flavored with anise seeds. It is usually served at every meal.
Msemmen or pancake bread is a flat and flaky fried bread that is a breakfast staple often topped with butter, jam or honey.
Moroccan sweet rolls topped with sesame seeds and sugar.
Moroccan crepes that are soft, spongy, and delicious. Perfect for dipping and soaking up the sauce from the tagine.
Known as “Berber Pizza”, it is a round, flatbread stuffed with meat (lamb or beef), onions, and spices. It originates from Rissani, located in the southwest near the desert of Morocco, and can be found around this region.
Morocco is the world’s leading producer of sardines so you will find them everywhere. Sardines are usually prepared deep-fried or grilled and often served with a savory chermoula sauce.
Deep-fried potato fritters usually served with a tangy dipping sauce.
A boiled white snail soup served in a peppery broth seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices.
Morocco’s take on the hot dog. A spicy sausage made of minced lamb or beef or a combination of both that is grilled and served with a hunk of bread.
The most popular beverage consumed by Moroccans. It is a strong, green tea sweetened with sugar and served with fresh mint leaves at every meal or anytime throughout the day or night. There is a special technique for how the tea is served. It is poured into the glass from high above to create bubbles and a top layer of foam.
Almond Milk (Sharbat Billoz)
A delicious, healthy drink (packed with protein and vitamins) served with a splash of orange blossom water. It is refreshing and energizing especially on a hot day. Almond milk is a popular drink during Ramadan.
Fresh Fruit Juices
There’s nothing like a glass of freshly squeezed juice and in Morocco, you can take your pick from a large variety of fresh and delicious fruits like pomegranate, orange, grape or watermelon. Sometimes, the vendor or venue may add orange blossom water or cinnamon to enhance the flavor.
A strong and bitter coffee that packs a punch. Usually not served with milk, but you can request how much sugar. It is generally served with a glass of orange blossom water and a side of something sweet.
Morocco is a Muslim country and it is forbidden for Muslims to drink alcohol. However, alcohol is available in big cities and popular tourist destinations, but it is expensive. Tourists are generally allowed to drink in some hotels, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, but drinking out in the open is against the law.
There are so many more amazing and crazy delicious options to experience while you are in Morocco. Some Moroccan package tours even offer cooking classes so you can learn how to make traditional Moroccan dishes at home. As the cuisine of Morocco continues to be influenced by other cultures, the already extensive menu will continue to grow to leave us hungry for more.