Moroccan food is known for its variety of flavours and spices. It is a complete feast for the senses, mixing sweet and savoury together and ensuring you fall in love with these tasty treats. It is becoming more common to be able to find Moroccan cuisine in various restaurants around the world, but not everyone knows what we should be asking for in a restaurant. Whether you are staying elsewhere or actually travelling to colourful Morocco, we would like to recommend to you some of the most exquisite Moroccan dishes you should be trying out.
Morocco has experienced a big influence in trade and interaction with other cultures, such as the Arabic, Andalusian, Mediterranean and Berber, and this has definitely impacted in its cuisine to bring the best of all these cultures. Moroccan dishes are not only very tasty, as they combine various spices, but also really healthy as they balance vegetables with meat proteins and carbohydrates in couscous, their preferred grain.
I first had the chance to experience Moroccan cuisine in a course I did some years ago. In the course that lasted several weeks, we went through the most popular Moroccan and Mauritanian dishes. Ever since then, I have fallen in love with its unique flavours and either try making myself something home or go to a Moroccan restaurant to go through an exquisite experience. Moreover, dishes are not that hard to make home and recipes are easily found online.
Whether you are new to Moroccan cuisine or have tried it already, there are some dishes you should not let pass by. We have selected a variety of savoury and sweet dishes which range from having dinner, lunch or just a snack.
An all-round favourite, Couscous is a nutritious food full of unique and exquisite flavours. The couscous grains are steamed with the broth, normally made out of chicken, getting it’s flavour. Besides the meat from the broth, vegetables such as courgettes, chickpeas or carrots are added.
This dish is one of my favourite dishes ever. It is healthy, delicious and I consider it to be a comfort food which is easy to make, as couscous grains can be done in just a few minutes. However, if you want a very rich broth, the elaboration could take some hours. Nonetheless it will be completely worth it.
In some variances of the dish, a sweet element is introduced to balance the taste of the dish. This normally comes in the form of prunes or caramelised onions. Also, chilli powder can be put on the side so the diners can add as much as they like. I personally like putting some cinnamon on the onions when I caramelise them to give them a particular and delicious taste.
This famous slow-cooked Moroccan stew gets its name from the traditional clay or ceramic dish in where it is cooked. Allowing the flavours and spices to mix in with the meat and vegetables, this dish is definitely a treat for your palate. If you like eating meat, I recommend the lamb tagine with prunes.
Tagines are normally left undisturbed while being cooked, allowing the tender delicious elements of this dish to be presented beautifully in the diners eyes. They are served in the same dish where they are cooked, and can be accompanied by bread or some plain couscous.
If you are vegetarian, you are lucky as Tagines can be made entirely out of vegetables and you are guaranteed to enjoy its unique taste.
Also receiving the name of Bastilla, this dish is made with crushed almonds and shredded chicken, originally pigeon, mixed together with spices such as saffron and cinnamon in a traditional pastry. Sometimes decorated with powdered sugar on top, this dish will not leave you indifferent! It has a unique and (to my mind) perfect combination of crunchiness, savoury and sweet.
When I have made pastilla at home I have used the chicken that has been in the broth for the couscous, and as it has been cooking for several hours it is very easy to shred. The kind of pastry used is very thin so some patience is needed when doing this dish. It can be served with a honey based sauce which goes really well with the sweet and savoury flavours of this dish.
If you think this combination might not be for you, try out the seafood pastilla. The marine taste of this dish, not mixed as much with sweet elements is a more savoury dish which can be accompanied with many other succulent Moroccan dishes.
It is time for some tea, but you are not sure about what you want to get. The choice is clear, known as ‘Moroccan whiskey’, mint tea is a great drinking choice. It is heavily sweetened with sugar, but it can have a sour aftertaste as well due to the mint leaves. If you don’t want it sweet make sure to ask when ordering.
This tea is poured from the kettle into the tea glass from a height to aerate the tea and create froth. It is best served with some traditional Moroccan sweets and is also a delicious option to have with a light snack or dessert after a traditional Moroccan lunch or dinner. Without a doubt Mint Tea is one of the most exquisite Moroccan “dishes” you should try!
This is probably one of the easiest Moroccan “dishes” to make home. Mint Tea can be easily bought in any supermarket and if you want a more traditional take when serving it, provide some sugar cubes. I can assure your friends will love it!
You are in Morocco and do not know what to order for breakfast. In that case, why not try something different and go for some B’ssara! This is a very filling bean soup, with some chillies and cumin to give it a twist. Normally eaten with bread, this dish will give you enough energy to live your adventures throughout the day.
For this dish, you will need to find fava beans and this is the main ingredient. Also, depending on personal preference, you can choose to blend the ingredients once the soup is done to puree the mix or leave the mixture with bits. However you prefer it, garnish the mixture with some cumin and olive oil.
Spicing things up
Spices are one of the most important elements in Moroccan dishes, as these are the ones that give them these particular and unique flavours. Moreover, Moroccan cuisine is known for its use of spices, but, have you wondered which ones are the essential ones?
If you have heard about Ras el Hanout but never really knew what it was composed of, you are about to find out, as these are the most used spices in Moroccan cuisine. Some we have already mentioned throughout the blog. Cumin is an important spice as well as cinnamon. However, there are many more spices you should take into account.
Brown or coconut sugar are used throughout Moroccan cuisine to give a sweet taste to some dishes. This can be used to caramelise onions, to give some extra sweetness to prunes or to sweeten a bit more the pastilla. Moreover, Moroccan food uses paprika a lot. This could give a bit of heat to some dishes.
Other important spices are cloves, ginger, turmeric or cayenne. Also, you should not forget to put salt and pepper to taste to the dishes you make. If you want to create a small container with Ras el Hanout, mix these spices together, giving a bit more predominance to cumin and paprika. This mixture will provide exquisite flavour to your future dishes.
Regarding quantities, some recipes will give you already measured quantities, however, if you are someone who prefers letting your instincts guide you, maybe try putting a bit less at first and have a taste, adjusting flavours until you reach your desired one. Be creative!
What did you think about these dishes? Have you tried making any of these home, and if so, what are your thoughts about them? Feel free to contact to let us know about your experiences with Moroccan food and hope you enjoyed this list of exquisite Moroccan dishes you need to try.
Author: Maria Gomez