Popular Moroccan foods you must try
Moroccan food is wildly popular but also misunderstood. There is a lot more to Moroccan food than just tajine and couscous. The hardest part of experiencing Moroccan food however is that the majority of restaurants in the country cook the same things and don’t put the time, love or attention into the food that you’ll find when eating in a Moroccan persons’ home. There are quite a few popular Moroccan foods you must try when you visit Morocco and below are the dishes that will tantalize your taste buds with so many flavors and textures of exotic spices and ingredients if your trying local street food or a fine dining restaurant.
Where do you find the good stuff? Let me help!
My top three tips for finding great Moroccan food when visiting may put you outside your comfort zone but will be worth it.
- If you’re staying in a riad, have them prepare at least one meal for you and ask something not found on restaurant menus. The women who cook in riads, prepare food as they would for their families at home so if you’re seeking authentic Moroccan, this is the easiest way to find it.
- Eat in a Moroccan home. There are some tours now that offer a meal in a Moroccan home, this is almost always a good idea. You’ll be treated to a very authentic meal that will taste how it should!
- Find the Moroccans. Here’s a secret, Moroccans don’t go out to eat Moroccan food, they eat it at home. While they won’t be sitting down and tucking into a tajine they do eat street food. If you want to eat “real” Moroccan foods find little spots filled with Moroccans and follow their lead. These spots won’t look like restaurants, but trust me, this is where you want to be.
10 Things You Should Eat in Morocco
Now that you know where to get it, what should you eat? The two most obvious dishes are tajine and couscous, and yes they are two different dishes. You won’t be served couscous with your tajine. Yes, you should try them but let me share a few other ideas you may not know about.
This dish is something you’ll find only in Marrakech. It’s THE dish of the city and a must-try. The ingredients are simple; lamb meat, cumin, garlic, saffron, preserved lemon and olive oil that is all combined and slow cooked overnight in the warm ashes of an oven. The result? Meat that is falling apart and loaded with flavor.
Whenever I share this sandwich with people they shake their head when I ask if they would think of it as Moroccan food. But, it is! The meat of sardines is removed from the bone and mixed with spices and butter, formed into balls and grilled. The meatballs are stuffed into bread along with olives, harissa (hot pepper sauce), raw onions, tomatoes and a bit of salted butter on the bread. The perfect street food.
You won’t be able to avoid eating a msemmen, sometimes called a crepe or pancake but really not either. These flaky flat breads are a favorite. The sweet version is commonly found at breakfast but in the evenings a savory version hits the griddles. Filled with onions and spices, and made with a generous amount of butter and oil it’s something to remember.
You will be a little hard pressed to find this during warmer months but in winter it’s everywhere. This is a soup or a dip depending on who makes it. Made with dried fava beans that are cooked until soft and blended with water, cumin and olive oil it’s a healthy way to start the day. When served you can add more olive oil to the top, cumin and/or paprika as well.
Loubia and Addis
Loubia means bean and addis means lentil and these two vegetarian dishes are very common in Moroccan homes but rarely found on restaurant menus. Both are made by slow cooking the beans with spices and liquid. The beans are cooked until they are completely soft and eaten by scooping up with bread.
Every culture has its version of slow cooked whole animal and Morocco is no different. Mechoi is cooked by roasting an entire sheep over low heat in a clay or underground oven. The meat is not spiced or treated in anyway. After it is cooked, it is served with salt and cumin to be seasoned by the person eating.
A Moroccan Salad Course
I couldn’t choose a single salad so I choose them all! Moroccan salads are not the green salads you may be accustomed to. They are almost all cooked salads. With a main dish 2-3 salads are typically served however if you go to a nicer restaurant you may discover an entire course that is just salads. Because they are served in small portions it’s very easy to try several at one time.
Sadly, you’ll never find this on a restaurant menu so it’s a great dish to ask your riad to make! Rfisa is commonly prepared after a woman has a baby because it’s full of protein to help her regain her strength. The base of the dish is shredded msemmen and then topped with cooked lentils and chicken, that is spiced with fenugreek, saffron and other typical Moroccan spices. It is delicious!
Morocco has its own version of yogurt called raib. Traditioanlly it is made with a natural thickener found in a thistle that grows in the mountains of Morocco. But, don’t worry you can’t taste it at all and most raib today isn’t made the traditional way. It’s sold sweetened or unsweetened.
Avocado and Almost Smoothies
A mid-afternoon snack is very common and seeing cups full of a green thick liquid can’t be avoided. Inside is a smoothie made with avocado, almonds and milk. It is sometimes sweetened with sugar or even chocolate syrup but you can ask for this to be held. The taste isn’t for everyone but it’s worth a try!
This is a small look at Moroccan food but I hope that it opens up what some of the unique options are that people rarely see outside the country.
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Amanda is a freelance writer and blogger living in Marrakech, Morocco. She loves all things food and travel and thinks there’s no better reason to see the world than to eat well! You can read more about her adventures on MarocMama.com and check out her food tour if you’re in Marrakech!
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