Moroccan Cuisine: A Must Try
By: Cara Zanta/Arab America Contributing Writer
Morocco is a beautiful, colorful, and diverse country. Its beauty stems from its mountain ranges, ancient cities, deserts, and most importantly, amazing food. The multi-layered dishes and robust flavors of Moroccan cuisine make traveling to Morocco #1 on your bucket list.
Morocco, located in the Northwest region of Africa, reflects the influence of countries all over the world when it comes to food. It is typically a mix of Arabic, Andalusian, and Mediterranean cuisines, slightly influenced by European and sub-Saharan regions.
Similar to Spain, Moroccan’s biggest meal of the day is typically served at lunchtime, followed by a nice nap through the hottest part of the day. Lunch, called rada, can last anywhere from noon to 3 or 4 pm, where most shops and facilities close down during these hours, minus the few that are catering to tourist.
While there is no national rule mandating a nationwide “siesta” after lunch, Morocco is a very hot country during the summer, and many use the mid-day nap to escape the heat for a few hours after a long morning of hard work.
In Moroccan culture, the concept of “Al Baraka” refers to the sense of divine moments or type of spiritual energy believed to exist according to specific environments. For Moroccan families, it is believed that if a family is able to eat together at a convenient time of eating, “Al Baraka” will exist as blessings from God.
If an individual is eating alone, it is simply to satisfy his or her hunger. Therefore, eating collectively with your family is seen more as a cultural and religious practice.
Eating from the same dish with your hands is another distinguishable characteristic of Moroccan food culture. It is an aspect of eating together that makes their culture unique and has been a tradition for a very long time.
Traditional Moroccan cuisine consists of a variety of delicious grains, meats, and spices that leave you feeling more than satisfied. On top of that, most feel very healthy after visiting Morocco and tasting all the food the country has to offer and the food is very fresh and seasoned with herbs and spices.
Below are a few of Morocco’s popular dishes:
A fine, pale, hand-rolled pasta that is steamed and served on a large plate with a pyramid of meats and vegetables on top. It is often garnished with a sweet raisin preserve to give it flavor.
This dish is named after the conical clay pot in which it is cooked and served. Tagine is a thick stew of vegetables, with meat in the middle. The picture above is a chicken tagine, but there are also lamb, beef, fish, and even vegetarian options! Tagine is typically a shared dish, were using bread, rather than spoons or forks to eat it, is common.
A tomato-based hearty soup that is packed with meat, vegetables, lentils, and chickpeas. This meal is traditionally eaten to break the days fasting during the month of Ramadan.
A sweet and savory pie with shredded chicken or pigeon mixed with beaten eggs and spices, and topped with fried crushed almonds, and wrapped with a light pastry shell. The pie is also dusted with sugar and cinnamon to give it sweetness on top.
Spices are crucial to authentic Moroccan food and have often known for their medicinal value. Although some are imported from areas of the Arab World, still most are indigenous to Morocco. Their common spices include; Cayenne, Turmeric, Ginger, Saffron, and Cumin.
Morocco is full of vibrant beautiful cities, friendly people, and most of all, the food that will fuel your tastebuds.