They say that the longer a meal takes to prepare, the better it tastes. If this is true, Moroccan food is the best in the world.
Moroccan meals take hours to prepare and it’s worth it. There are so many flavors and layers to each dish.
Eating out in Morocco can be intimidating. Often times when we go to a restaurant, we don’t know where to begin and end up ordering a safe and boring dish.
To prevent you from being safe and boring like us, we thought we’d round up the best Moroccan food to try on your next trip to the Middle East.
A Guide to Moroccan Food
We spent an afternoon preparing and cooking Morrocan food in an incredible multi-course meal at Riad El Cadi in Marrakech.
When we arrived they had green tea and appetizers waiting for us as we smelled the rich aromas in the air.
We had already been in Morroco for a week and tasted a lot of food.
We were ready now to learn all about the preparations, ingredients, and work that goes into cooking Moroccan food.
How to Eat Morrocan Food
Morrocan’s eat three times a day like most places, but the main meal is mid-day as opposed to dinner.
Street Food in Morocco
Street food in Morocco is a way of life and if you don’t go out to a market, you’ll be missing out.
Some of the cheapest eats are on the streets. So be sure to enjoy a kebab at a street-side stall.
My recommendation is to look for a spot filled with locals and join in.
Moroccans are friendly people and they’ll be happy to help you choose the best Moroccan dishes if you look confused.
I never shy away from asking, “what’s good?”
Eat with Your Hands in Morocco
When eating Moroccan Cuisine, be sure to use your right hand. Pick up foods with your right thumb and first two fingers.
Often times you’ll be scooping up dips, stews, and salads with fresh bread using your hands.
Don’t lick your fingers. If you do, save it until the very end of the meal.
If you are visiting a Moroccan household, be sure to bring a small gift. We went to the market to order some figs and dates.
Moroccan Food – What to Eat and How to Eat It
To help you decide what dishes to start with when you do sit down at a restaurant, here are some must-try Moroccan food dishes to get you started.
1. Moroccan Tagine
Tagine is probably the most popular entrée you’ll order in Morocco and it is magnificent.
Tagine can either be chicken, lamb or beef and it is a dish slow cooked in a clay pot with a myriad of vegetables, spices, and meats.
The flavors infuse during cooking and everything comes out tender and delicious.
Our chicken tagine consisted of Berber chicken with Vegetables. And our beef tagine was served with prunes and almonds.
2. Eggplant Zalouk
When we prepared our Moroccan meal, our feast started with many salads.
If you are a vegetarian, you are going to love Moroccan food.
We had so many different salads ranging from cabbage, carrots and even lemon and oranges to our favorite salad, eggplant (aubergine) zalouk.
The eggplant is slow cooked and then puréed into a flavourful dip with garlic, spices, and tomatoes.
Couscous is the staple side dish in Morocco similar to rice or quinoa.
Moroccans mix flavors in their couscous including raisins, spices, and vegetables.
Remember, Morocco was a part of the spice route, so when you visit the country, be prepared for meals filled with spices like you have never had before.
4. Chickpea Stew
Moroccan cuisine must be the healthiest in the world. It’s filled with endless vegetables, herbs and spices, and legumes.
Olive oil is made from Moroccan olives and is a staple of the food.
I love eating the array of stews with fresh bread.
Meat and vegetables are a staple of many of the stews, but for the vegetarians out there, chickpeas are an excellent source of protein.
Slow cooked with tomatoes and potatoes, this is the perfect dish served over couscous.
5. Mint Tea
So it may not be Moroccan food (it’s a liquid if you didn’t get it), but tea is a staple in Moroccan cuisine.
Morocco is a Muslim country so you won’t find a lot of alcohol (although, Westerners will be able to drink wine and beer at restaurants and riads)
The mint tea of Morocco is fresh and filled with leaves.
We had the best mint tea at the main market of Marrakech (Djemaa el-Fna) where they put blocks of sugar cubes on top of min leaves.
Once you order a cup, they pour hot water over the ingredients melding them all together.
Green tea is also a very popular tea served when visiting a Moroccan household or establishment.
6. Harira Soup
Harira Soup is a popular starter dish in Morocco, but it is often eaten at lunch on its own as it has everything you need for a well-balanced meal.
This tomato-based soup is filled with chickpeas, lentils, vegetables and meat. Add some bread to that dish and you have yourself a hearty and filling meal.
7. Nuts and Olives
You’ll be able to order starters of olives at any eatery and often nuts are on the menu or easily picked up at supermarkets.
Olives are usually tossed with spicy ketchup or preserved lemons. But the way we like them is with nothing at all.
Make sure to indulge in pistachios when in Morocco, they are so expensive everywhere else in the world.
It’s a treat to be able to munch on them at will.
8. Brochettes or Kebabs
If you are looking for a quick eat, stop at a streetside stall to enjoy a kebab.
These skewers of chicken, beef, or lamb are spiced to perfection. They’re quick, cheap and delicious.
It’s Moroccan fast food and a kebab will tie you over between meals.
Love food travel? Enjoy reading these 15 Tips for Easy Vegan Travel too
10. Baba ghanoush
Baba ghanoush has always been one of our favourite dishes, even before visiting Morocco.
This eggplant based dip is mixed with onions, tomatoes and various Moroccan spices.
It’s a delicious starter served with bread for dipping.
11. Briwat Rolls
Briwat Rolls are layered filo pastries stuffed with sweet or savory ingredients.
They can be served as appetizers or deserts depending on what you put in them.
These bite-sized snacks come in different shapes like triangles, long spring rolls or squares.
Speaking of desserts, make sure you try Moroccan dessert, there are plenty of delectable snacks to be had and they know how to enjoy a good sweet.
12. Ras El Hanout
Ras El Hanout is a spice mix that is used as the base for most Moroccan cooking. It is used as a rub, in soups and as a marinade.
It is made up of 13 spices and when in Morroco, you should pick up a mixture for your cooking at home.
The main spices that go into it are cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, chili peppers, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, ginger, peppercorn.
13. Cold Salad
Moroccan cold salads are a large part of the meal.
Key ingredients are carrots, chickpeas, cabbage, fresh herbs and spices, vinegar, olive oil, and garlic.
My mouth is watering just thinking of it.
We learned all about how to cook Morrocan food at Riyad El Cadi during our cooking course on a sunny and warm afternoon.
We then sat at a table filled with pistachios, olives, and pastries placed beside another table filled with all the ingredients we needed.
Moroccan Cuisine is Expensive in Restaurants
Moroccan cuisine is expensive.
When you go out for dinner in Marrakech or other Moroccan cities, expect to pay a little more than you will in other Middle Eastern countries, but there is a reason for this. Moroccan cuisine takes a very long time to prepare.
We had read this in our Lonely Planet Marrakech guide, but until we saw first hand just how much preparation goes into Moroccan food, we didn’t believe it.
As we worked his magic, we realized that we could never learn how to cook Chicken Tagine or Moroccan sauces in one short day.
Moroccan Food Preparations
When I asked our guide Ali, how long the chef works each day, he told us that there are two shifts at work.
The Sous Chef works all morning preparing, cutting and putting together all the spices and ingredients and then the Chef comes in at 3:00 to start preparing for the evening meals.
They only make a limited choice of main meals for the menu each evening as so much work goes into each dish.
The patrons of Ryad el Cadi and high-end restaurants must rely on the expertise of the chef to choose their meal for the evening and believe me, you won’t go wrong.
Moroccan Cuisine is some of the best in the world.
If you get the chance, try to eat at a local’s house. I said it earlier, Moroccans are very friendly, so don’t be surprised if you are invited home for dinner by a friendly local.
If you don’t feel comfortable eating with strangers, there are many tours that offer home-cooked meals as a part of their itineraries.
I suggest booking a food tour or a cooking course like the one we did at Riyad El Cadi.
Our Moroccan Cooking Class
Once we settled in, we were served, snacks consisting of dried fruit, fresh nuts, olives, and tea. This is common when dining in Morocco.
We then spent the afternoon learning about and cooking Moroccan cuisine and gained a new appreciation for the work that goes into cooking Moroccan meals.
Plus, we now have the confidence to order whatever we wish off the menu when eating at Moroccan restaurants.
Moroccan Cooking School Video
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Info: You can book a Moroccan cooking class for $60 USD/pp at Get Your Guide.
It includes a three-hour cooking demonstration by a gourmet chef, great conversation, appetizers, tea and still/sparkling water throughout the day.
The course followed by a candlelight dinner in a fine dining establishment. Oh and don’t forget the bottle of wine for two people included.
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