Savour the flavours of North Africa: 5 dishes to try in Morocco

October 25, 2023
North Africa - Morocco Food

Moroccan food fuses a variety of culinary influences, drawing its blends of flavour from Berber, Andalusian, and Mediterranean cuisines with hints of European and sub-Saharan influences. But just like India and Ethiopia, spices are used extensively in Moroccan cuisine. Some of the most commonly used spices include cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, nutmeg, paprika, ginger, anise, and fenugreek.

The country also produces a variety of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables, but wheat is the staple grain while common meats include beef, lamb, goat, mutton, chicken, and seafood. We have compiled a few dishes you should try on your trip to the beautiful mountainous region. Restaurant recommendations courtesy of Local Adventure.

1. Couscous

A taste of North Africa: 5 dishes to try in Morocco

Picture: LikeMeat on Unsplash

Couscous or ‘Seksu’ is the national dish in Morocco. It is a fine wheat pasta traditionally rolled by hand and cooked by steaming over a stew of meat and vegetables. To serve, the meat is covered by a pyramid of couscous, the vegetables are pressed into the sides and the sauce is served separately. Garnishing it with a sweet raisin preserve gives it that extra sumptuous flavour, but in the Berber tradition, a bowl of buttermilk is used.

Couscous is traditionally prepared on the Muslim holy day (Friday) and for special occasions, but you can find it at most restaurants and cafes.

Restaurants: Cafe Clock, Fes | Restaurant Naima, Marrakech

 

2. Zalouk/Zaalouk

Picture: Maggie McCain / Flickr

One thing you need to know about Moroccan dishes is that they begin with at least seven cooked vegetable salads to scoop up with bread. Zalouk (also spelt Zaalouk) is a common side dish and is typically served with crusty bread, seasoned with garlic, paprika, cumin and a little chilli powder. The dish can include eggplant, green peppers and tomatoes, sweet carrots or courgette purée, and a dish of local olives alongside.

Restaurants: Nur, Fes | Bazaar Cafe, Marrakech

3. TAGINE

A taste of North Africa: 5 dishes to try in Morocco

Picture: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

A tagine is a clay cooking pot with a conical lid that gives its name to myriad slow-cooked dishes inside (beef, lamb, chicken, veggies, etc).

But what exactly goes into a tagine, you might ask. Well, that would depend on the type of dish you’d be making (or ordering). The starting point for all tagines is your meat of choice, chopped onions and a lovely laundry list of herbs and spices. Some tagines use a whole lot of cumin, Moroccan saffron, turmeric, garlic, freshly chopped parsley, ground ginger, and salt and pepper to taste.

Then it all goes into the tagine pot with a splash of olive oil, and a splash of vegetable oil for cooking.

Tagines are ubiquitous in Morocco. You can find them at roadside stops, cafés, and restaurants around.

Restaurants to try: L’ibzar, Marrakech | L’Amandier Palais Faraj, Fes

4. Fish chermoula

A taste of North Africa: 5 dishes to try in Morocco

Picture: David Horn / Flickr

Chermoula is a North African spice blend which can be sprinkled onto fish, chicken and lamb before cooking to give it a spicy Moroccan flavour. Often times you’ll see it as a dipping sauce too. With its long Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, the country boasts a rich array of fish dishes, and fish chermoula is an absolute treat. Depending on the chermoula mix, you’ll sometimes get flavours of onion, coriander, chilli peppers, or saffron.

Restaurants: Nur, Fes | Bazaar Cafe, Marrakech

5. Harira

A taste of North Africa: 5 dishes to try in Morocco

Picture: Demuths Cookery School / Flickr

Harira is most popularly eaten during the month of Ramadan when the fast is broken at sunset each day. The steaming bowl of soup is rich in tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas and lamb. Often times garnished with a squeeze of lemon juice. You can try it with a sweet pretzel stick called chebakkiya. The dish is also often served as a starter, so it can be enjoyed all year round.

Restaurants: Cafe Caravan, Marrakech | The Ruined Garden, Fes

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Article originally written and published by Tsoku Maela for Getaway Magazine

Feature image: Pexels

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