Rich in flavor and taste and expertly spiced, Moroccan cuisine is one of the most renowned in the world. The diversity of its dishes is matched only by that of its influences: Arabic, Berber, Moriscan, Jewish, African, and even Asian! Whether cooking for parties or for everyday meals, here are 15 Moroccan specialties that will awaken your taste buds!
Couscous: Moroccan Friday Dish
Probably the most popular dish with the tagine, it is in any case the one that comes first to mind when talking about Moroccan gastronomy. Traditionally served on Friday afternoon, after the dhuhr prayer, it is tasted today any day of the week. Of traditional Berber origin, the traditional version consists of beef and mutton, sometimes chicken, a multitude of vegetables and legumes (zucchini, turnips, beans, lentils, peas), and of course, wheat semolina. Moroccans eat it straight from the dish or serve it on individual plates.
The Tagine: Moroccan Famous Plat
The tagine is a typical Moroccan dish whose origins are also Berber. It is said that the best tagines are still tasted today in Berber territory! It is a kind of stew stewed in a clay dish with a conical lid. There are an infinite number of tajine recipes, each one tastier than the other: Chicken tagine with vegetables, saffron or prunes, vegetable tajines with chickpeas, sardine tajines, sheep tajines with onions and chickpeas, etc… Practically a different recipe for each day of the year!
La Mrouzia: Moroccan Eid el-Kebir Dish
This is a very special recipe for Moroccan tajine, traditionally served on the feast of Eid el-Kebir and prepared with lamb neck, almonds, raisins, honey, and cinnamon, the whole being subtly balanced by the blend of Ras-El-Hanout. The dish is prepared days before the party, the meat having to cook for long hours, to come off effortlessly. In the traditional recipe, kidney fat was added to form a protective film, which allowed the dish to be preserved at a time when there was no refrigerator.
Pastilla: Moroccan puff pastry cake
The third major Moroccan specialty, pastilla is native to Fez. The traditional version is made from pigeon, but there are again several variants. Served at parties and receptions, it can be sweet or savory, the latter version being the most common. It is a puff pastry cake, made with pastry sheets and stuffed with a minced pigeon or chicken, before being sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. There are also pastillas with fish, others with seafood while Johara, the pastilla from Fez, is a sweet preparation where the pastry sheets are filled with a cream of milk and cornstarch.
Tanjia Marrakchia: Moroccan emblematic dish
Tanjia is a typical dish in Marrakech: going there without tasting this emblematic dish would be heresy. Two stories are told about its origin. The most popular is that it was created by workers who, not having time to go home to eat, took all the ingredients they found, meats, spices, vegetables, put them in a jar that they then left to heat overnight at the neighboring hammam. Today, it is a dish of meat and spices cooked for long hours in an earthenware jar and served in many Marrakchis restaurants.
The Méchoui: Moroccan barbecue
A meat-based dish, barbecue is more of a cooking method than a particular recipe. Of Arab origin, it is a widespread dish, served mainly at weddings or special occasions. The peculiarity of the Moroccan barbecue is that the lamb or mutton is cooked, not on a spit, but stewed, in an earthen oven, for long hours. Pieces are then detached by hand, and distinguished guests are traditionally served first.
Harira: Moroccan Soup
Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup, not always digestible and with questionable nutritional properties, but nevertheless always appreciated by Moroccans to break the fast of Ramadan. Of Andalusian origin, it consists of tomatoes, meat, onions, and pulses. It is served with boiled eggs, pancakes with honey, or Moroccan pastries.
The Briouates : Moroccan triangle Pastilla
Briouate, or briwate, is a flaky triangle that can be both sweet and savory. Originating from Fez, its most common version consists of almonds, sugar, orange blossom water, and cinnamon, all wrapped in a sheet of Moroccan Bastilla. Seafood Briouates are also very popular. There are other recipes where triangles are stuffed with minced meat, chicken, cheese, or vegetables.
The salads: Moroccan Salads
During a traditional Moroccan meal, many salads are served before or during the meal, hot or cold. Whether simple or complex, all bring a touch of freshness and allow Moroccans to eat a lot of vegetables. Tomatoes with cucumbers, carrots with cumin, zaalouk of eggplant, zucchini with hazelnuts, mushrooms with celery, lentils with orange … once again, the variations are endless!
Dates: Moroccan Dates
Morocco is among the largest producers of dates in the world. Particularly consumed during the fasting months, the date is rich in vitamins and mineral salts. In some areas, it is used to restore strength to women after childbirth. Moroccans are generally fond of it, with consumption of 150,000 tonnes per year. They are found in many dishes, including the famous Maamouls, cakes filled with date paste.
The gazelle horn: the colorful universe of Moroccan pastries
Now on our way to the endless and colorful universe of Moroccan pastries! One of the most famous of these is probably the gazelle horn. Made from crushed almonds coated with a fine shortbread dough scented with orange blossom water, it goes perfectly with the mint tea ritual.
Chebakia : the flagship pastry of Ramadan
Chebakia is, with almond briouate, the flagship pastry of Ramadan. The dough, made with wheat flour, eggs, orange flower water, anise, and almond, is fried in vegetable oil, then covered with honey and sesame seeds. It is also one of the cheapest and most common cakes in Morocco.
The Ghribia : traditional Moroccan pastry
Ghribia, or ghoriba, is a traditional Moroccan pastry whose recipe is inspired by mantecados, an Andalusian cake made from pork fat. The Moroccan ghribia does not, of course, include any, replaced by vegetable oil, and it is today a cake that is served during engagements, weddings, or family celebrations.
Orange is an essential element of Moroccan cuisine. It is used in all sauces, sweet or savory. It is also found in the form of salads, served at the end of a meal. Oranges are added with sugar, cinnamon, orange blossom water, and a few mint leaves and make a very refreshing dessert after all the dishes we have just listed. Finally, the orange juices found in the markets of Marrakech or on the Place Jema El Fnaa are absolutely delicious.
Mint tea : Moroccan specialty
How to evoke Moroccan specialties without talking about traditional mint tea? Concluding perfectly a good Moroccan meal, it is also the drink of hospitality, one of those who do not refuse. Based on Chinese green tea, sugar, and mint, its preparation is traditionally the business of the head of the family. In some areas, ingredients such as sage, verbena, cinnamon or orange blossom water may be added. It goes perfectly with Moroccan pastries, but can also be eaten at any time of the day.
If you want to learn how to make Moroccan delicious mint tea check our post: HOW TO MAKE MOROCCAN MINT TEA STEP BY STEP
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