Morocco is famous all over the world for argan oil, carpets, Marrakech souq, sunny weather … and delicious food! So, we knew that we would not go hungry when we went to Morocco. Moroccan food is packed with so many flavours coming mostly from 8 Moroccan Spices sometimes seemingly incompatible with each other, but always delicious.
We spent two months travelling across Moroccan cities slowly falling in love in spicy Moroccan cuisine, full of lemon and olives, various herbs and spices, veg and couscous. And no we didn’t like all the dishes – some of the harira soup we tried was uneatable, some sweets were far too sweet, but overall food of Morocco, left a big impression on us and we brought with us home lots of spices as Souvenirs from Morocco.
Moroccan cuisine – What to eat in Morocco
Tajine – the most traditional Moroccan dish
This is probably the most popular and famous traditional Moroccan cooking that you will get in any restaurant. The composition, and thus the taste of the tajine, varies depending on … the preferences of the cook. Tagine (or tajine) is a slow cooked stew of baked meat and vegetables usually served on its own or with couscous. You can find meat (chicken, beef), fish, vegetables (carrots, beans, potatoes, olives), dried fruit (mostly prunes) and of course herbs. The truth is that we ate several tajines and each one tasted and looked different.
What connects the various tajines is the way they are prepared and served. The dish is baked in a special clay pot with a distinctive conical lid (which, by the way, is also called tajin) and placed over red-hot coal or wood. The tajin dish is one of the most recognisable icons of Morocco and you can buy them on every local market – its a great souvenir to bring home.
Coming back to the food itself – we loved the chicken tajine especially. But you should try Beef or Lamb Tagine With Prunes, they were also delicious. Other Tajine dishes are
Fish Chermoula Tagine
Chermoula (or Charmoula) is a North African marinade or sauce with preserved lemon most often used to accompany fish, or even vegetables and poultry. In Morocco, it is used in many fish tagine recipes but not only. Fish is really tender and delicious.
If you are vegan or vegetarian you can order Vegetable tagine, which is as well full of flavour. We ordered it for our kids which are quite fussy with meat.
Kefta meat ball tajine
We tried Kefta Meat Ball in Moulay Idriss when we were famished on our trip from Meknes to Volubilis.
I don’t know if that was because of hunger or it was the best food we eat in Morocco. The local “chef” didn’t speak any English, my Arabic doesn’t exist, but I manage to explain that we hungry, so the cook run out of the eatery and come back after few minutes with fresh mincemeat in his hand. Oh gosh, I thought: Now we need to wait another hour for food, but within 15 minutes we got the most delicious meatball with fresh tomatoes sauce.
Importantly, it is one of the cheapest items on the menu. During our stay in Morocco, we ate it many times.
Couscous is often cooked and served covered with lots of vegetables (among others, carrots, beans, chickpeas, zucchini, pumpkin, onions) and meat (we mainly met with the chicken option). Of course, this dish can also be served without meat.
Harira is quite popular in Morocco. It’s a filling soup with tomatoes, lentils and chickpeas, and based on a meat broth. It’s quite cheap. Harira is a very important Moroccan food as during the Holy Month of Ramadan is served as the first dish of iftar, to break the daily fast after sunset.
Bessara or Bissara is a soup made from bean puree or Moroccan bissara foul. It’s a creamy Berber soup where dried fava beans are soaked overnight then simmered and flavored with cumin, garlic and pepper and drizzled with olive oil when serving. Bessara is so thick it is also often served as as a dip accompanied by crusty bread! Bessara can also be made with dried split peas. It is a tasty Moroccan dish, well known in the Fez region but also in the mountain regions where it is so cold in winter!
Bench beans, or Loubia as they say in Morocco, can be enjoyed with fresh bread, as a main course or as a side dish. It is a classic and tasty dish, cooked with white beans, tomatoes, garlic, Moroccan spices and chili. It is a must of Moroccan street food which costs only a few dirhams
Moroccan dishes – Salad
In general, Moroccan meals start with an assortment of vegetable salads. Taktouka is one very tasty type of salad made with tomatoes, green peppers and garlic while Zaalouk is a grilled eggplant dip prepared with paprika, garlic and cumin. The “Moroccan salad” is very simple and only takes a few minutes to prepare. It’s just tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice, peppers, and salt. You can also try carrots or a dish of local olives to accompany it all.
Salads are often served with Khobz – a Moroccan bread traditionally baked in a communal wood fired ovens.
Moroccan Desserts and Sweets
It is worth mentioning that Moroccans love sweets. And you can see it at every step, even in the number of confectioneries and cafes in every city and suq. Cookies often have quite a similar composition, honey and powdered sugar are an important element here. It is best to buy 2-3 individual pieces to be able to try a little of everything. These products are very sugary indeed, and we found that a small taste was plenty.
Pastilla or Bastilla – Sweet and Savory Pie
Probably my favourite of all Moroccan foods, the Pastilla is a meat pie, but sweet! The meat which is usually a bird, and traditionally pigeon, is slow-cooked in butter with onions, perhaps saffron and other spices. It is then shredded and layered with cinnamon, sugar and crunchy almonds before being enclosed in a flaky choux pastry case. It is an outstanding combination of sweet and savoury flavours.
Pastilla is not as popular as the other previously mentioned dishes. I think I’ve only seen it in one eatery in Fez, but we were also served it during a homestay in Meknes, where it had been prepared for a family wedding.
The briwate (or briouat) is a deep fried puff pastry, triangular in shape (like a samosa) or in the shape of a roll, it can be filled with almond paste soaked in orange flower water and sugar, stuffed with chicken and cheese or even with dumplings of meat and aromatic herbs. It’s really crispy and very tasty.
Kaab el Ghazal
Kaab el Ghazal, or gazelle horns, are crescent-shaped sugary almond pastries filled with almond paste
The sfenj is a donut deep fried in oil. It’s made from an unsweetened sourdough, and you can enjoy it plain or add a little jam or sugar on top. This is another must of Moroccan dishes that will only cost you two or three dirhams. Moroccans love to taste it still hot, almost scalding, and accompanied by a glass of mint tea.
Street food in Morocco
Babbouche Boiled Snails
The first time we saw snails on sale on the street market in Fez Medina. They are served in a small bowl, you drink the juices and use a toothpick to pick the snails from the shells. Moroccan people believe that the broth is good for fever and various digestion problems. I would rather include this in my collection of “weird food” rather than my “must try” list.
Brochettes – Morocco shashlik
This is nothing but meat skewers. What meat? It can be chicken, lamb or beef. Shashlik is served with vegetables, recently the version with fries has become more and more popular (well, you have to adapt to the travelers from Europe).
Sandwiches or Shwarma
What to drink in Morocco?
If you are in Morocco – then, of course, you are drinking mint tea. – it’s a national drink – read when Morrocan started drinking tea. Its usually the green tea base with the addition of many mint leaves and lots of sugar. It is probably the most accessible product in this country, both tourists and locals drink it. It is served in a characteristic teapot and poured into small glasses, the tradition is that it is poured from pot to glass and back again several times and often the writer takes pride in pouring it from a great height into the glass to entrain the air.
We had one of the most delicious coffees ever in a beach bar in a surfer paradise village of Imsouane, but don’t count on getting good coffee everywhere. In most places, it will be a bitter Arabic coffee served either with lots of sugar or with dates.
Juices from freshly squeezed fruit are the best. I could live on them. Mostly orange, or pomegranate but also mix fruits. In Essaouira or in a street stall in Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech, you can get a glass of freshly squeezed juice for 4 Dhs
Alcoholic drinks in Morocco
As for alcohol, remember that Morocco is a Muslim country and therefore alcoholic beverages are not readily available. The smallest problem with access to alcoholic beverages is in Agadir. There, in most bars you will at least get a beer. In other places it is much drier – alcohol can be found only in hypermarkets on the outskirts of cities and in selected hotels.
Food in Morocco – Prices
The prices of individual dishes in Morocco vary significantly. What do they depend on? Well, location, region, restaurant prestige and much more. Contrary to appearances, we did not eat the most expensive at Jamaa El Fna square in Marrakesh, but during our ‘trip to the desert’. Unfortunately, despite the many positive impressions brought from this trip, there was one negative aspect – we ate in quite expensive places. The prices ranged from 100 to 130 DH per dish (40-52 PLN). Of course, for us these are not high amounts, but for Morocco, yes.
The cheapest food is on the street. As a rule, they are more snacks than main courses, although… On the first evening in Morocco, immediately after our arrival, we ate chicken with Moroccan salad and bread for 10 DH (about 1$). Later it turned out that this was the exception, rather than the rule.
In restaurants, one of the cheapest dishes is couscous, as I mentioned earlier. The price usually ranges from 40-80 DH. Tajin is a tiny bit more expensive (60-120 DH).
Speaking of prices, make sure you check the bills you receive. Unfortunately, it happens (though less and less often) that waiters add additional dishes to them that you have not seen before.
Moroccan Food – summary
Moroccan cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. It is characterized by the use of many different herbs and spices, oils, aromatic herbs, and traditional recipes representing a sacred heritage. Each Moroccan speciality has its place in society and varies according to regions, eating habits and the market. Moroccan cousine certainly offers a real journey of flavors.