Rabat – While I was wrought with anxiety and homesickness on my flight to Morocco for my semester abroad, I cheered myself up by imagining all the delicious Moroccan foods I was about to have at my disposal.
I ignorantly assumed that Moroccan foods would resemble that of the Middle East. I was daydreaming about piles of falafel, hummus, tabouleh, fattoush, mana’eesh, and baba ghanoush. While all of these dishes are available in Morocco, the country has so much more to offer in terms of its own authentic cuisine.
I won’t bore you by going over the varieties of couscous and tagines that are native to Morocco. They’re great, but their worldwide fame makes that discussion a bit redundant. Here are ten more Moroccan foods of varying popularity that you need to try during your visit–or make at home!
My favorite way to start a meal is with zaaluk and bread. To be honest, I could eat this as a meal by itself–it’s really that delicious.
The base of zaaluk is mashed eggplants, tomatoes, and garlic. It is spiced with cumin, black pepper, paprika, and cayenne for some heat. Use it as a spread or dip before moving onto the main course of your meal. It’s easy to fill up on this stuff, so pace yourself!
I said I wasn’t going to mention tagines or couscous, but I do have to mention one renowned Moroccan dish: tangia.
Most famous in Marrakech, tangia is yet another Moroccan dish named for its cooking vessel.
Tangia, also known as the bachelor’s dish, was originally cooked by unmarried working men who would gather to prepare this easy, meat-based meal.
Tangia is prepared with bone-in chunks of meat or chicken flavored with garlic, onions, preserved lemon, and cumin.
Traditionally, bachelors would assemble the ingredients in an urn-like pot and bury the tangia in hot ashes to cook slowly while they went off to work.
Another traditional method included bringing the pot of ingredients to the local hammam, where the tangia was cooked overnight over hot coals and picked up the next morning. The slow process tenderizes the meat so that it falls easily off the bone.
You can easily find this traditional dish at restaurants in Marrakech as well as in Meknes, Fez, and Sefrou.
Moroccans didn’t invent slow cooking, but they certainly perfected the technique. This mouthwatering meal is truly one for the books.
Don’t worry, ladies–Moroccan women get a special meal, too!
Rfissa is a traditional dish of chicken, onions, lentils, and msemen that was curated to replenish women after childbirth. It’s seasoned with saffron, parsley, coriander, ras el hanout, ginger, garlic, turmeric, salt, and pepper.
The secret ingredient is fenugreek, a medicinal herb that supposedly boosts milk production in new mothers. Fenugreek is also lauded as a natural way to treat inflammation, balance blood sugar levels, and improve male libido.
It’s unlikely you’ll find this dish in a restaurant, so take a day to prepare this amazing meal at home.
The first time I had b’stilla was days before traveling to Morocco for my semester abroad. I went out to a Moroccan restaurant with my family and one of the courses was this sweet and savory meat pie. I was amazed at how much I enjoyed this strange combination of chicken, eggs, nuts, cinnamon, and sugar.
The Moroccan dish, which has Andalusian origins, is usually prepared for large events or parties. It can be made with chicken, seafood, or even pigeon.
Now that I live in Rabat, I get to enjoy homemade b’stilla even without a cause for celebration, courtesy of my wonderful mother-in-law. In addition to making the large pie for family gatherings, she stuffs triangles of phyllo dough with the b’stilla mixture for me to fry up whenever I crave this one-of-a-kind flavor and texture.
Not everyone is as lucky as I am, so grab this traditional meal whenever you get the chance!
Morocco’s Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts are famous for their bountiful varieties of fresh seafood. Seeing as Morocco is the world’s top producer of canned sardines, it comes as no surprise that sardine-based dishes are particularly famous in the Kingdom.
Most Moroccans, of course, prefer fresh sardines over canned. You’ll find endless options in the coastal cities of Essaouira, Agadir, Tetouan, Tangier, and Rabat. Try them grilled, barbequed, or fried and stuffed with chermoula.
Amazigh flatbread (madfouna)
The Amazigh flatbread is probably the most underrated dish in the country. Sure, it’s basically a sandwich, but who doesn’t love sandwiches?
According to a BBC Travel feature, this ancient “Moroccan pizza” originated in the Erg Chebbi region of the Sahara Desert.
To make the pizza, Saharan bread dough is kneaded, rolled into a round shape, stretched over fillings, pinched closed, and baked. Imazighen originally baked the meal in a fire pit in the sand or in a mud oven, but now it is also cooked in large fire ovens.
Fillings include beef, lamb, chicken, eggs, nuts, onions, and garlic. The quintessential Moroccan herbs and spices—including cumin, paprika, turmeric, ginger, and parsley–add even more flavor to the fillings. The flatbreads tend to be customizable, so there is an option for everyone.
If you ever visit the Sahara, specifically the town of Rissani, don’t pass up the chance to sample this amazing age-old tradition.
Maakouda is one of Morocco’s safest street foods–you probably won’t need Imodium after enjoying these crispy potato fritters. No undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables here!
You can find this snack practically anywhere, but maakouda also comes in a quiche-like form that can be enjoyed as a meal. This version is baked or cooked in a tagine rather than fried and includes eggs. Both variations pair nicely with ketchup or a spicy sauce.
Either way, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Amlou is a deliciously sweet mixture of argan oil, honey, and almonds.
The taste and texture are reminiscent of peanut butter due to the strong nutty flavor of argan oil. I personally prefer it over peanut butter, and I like to tell myself it’s healthier. Enjoy amlou with warm msemen or other Moroccan breads for a filling breakfast or snack.
Everything during Ramadan
Sorry, I couldn’t pick just one. But I’ll try to limit myself to sweets.
If you visit Morocco during the holy month of Ramadan, you’ll be exposed to some of the best desserts the country has to offer.
My absolute favorite Ramadan delight is harira and chebakia. Mind you, harira is not a dessert. I had to mention it, though, because the unlikely pair of honey-drenched cookies and a hearty tomato, chickpea, and lentil soup is truly unbeatable.
Don’t eat, drink, or smoke in public during the day if you aren’t fasting for Ramadan–this is hshuma (shameful). Even more hshuma, though, is depriving yourself of these delicious sweets when it’s time to breakfast. Kul! Eat!
Almost everything during Eid al Adha
Again, I couldn’t pick just one. Eid al Adha is heaven for meat-lovers but not for the faint of heart. You will see a lot of blood, guts, and severed sheep heads if you go out and about during the yearly Festival of Sacrifice.
Moroccan families celebrating Eid use every part of the sheep that they don’t give away to the poor or to friends and neighbors. The first holiday meal for many families is made of sheep entrails and liver: boulfaf and tkalia.
one of the most popular Moroccan foods during Eid, called meshwi, is best enjoyed fresh off the grill. Chunks of sheep or lamb meat are seasoned with parsley, coriander, cumin, black pepper, and salt and barbequed to perfection. Sheep liver is also made into tender kebabs and wrapped with lace fat.
LKhlii is made of dried and salted meat and is a great way to preserve leftover lamb or mutton from the holiday.
During Eid, kouraine is made from the slaughtered animal’s legs and prepared with chickpeas, saffron, turmeric, paprika, ginger, cumin, and garlic. Raisins are sometimes added for a touch of sweetness.
Roasted ribs are another holiday favorite, flavored with onion, cumin, black pepper, ginger, coriander, saffron, lemon juice, and garlic.
The holidays are a great time to experience some of the country’s best dishes, but Morocco never faces a shortage of delicious food. This list is merely a glimpse at the amazing cuisine that has either originated in Morocco or been perfected by Moroccans.
With unique culinary traditions in each region, Morocco has something to satisfy every craving.