The thought of Moroccan food conjures up thoughts of an exotic, far-off destination that exudes intense spices and has a flair for the dramatic. While Moroccan food is akin to the feelings most people get when they think of Morocco, there's so much more to this incredible country - and its food - than how it appears from the outside. Each dish holds a surprise whether it's in the form of an unusual and delightful combination, or a spice blend that absolutely takes each bite to the next level.
Influenced by Arabia, France, and Spain, this cuisine is the perfect blend of comfort and intensity. Each culinary experience will be one filled with thrilling flavors or comforting undertones, and, more often than not, a combination of the two. That's what makes Moroccan food such an incredible tribute to the country in which it's made, and it's only one of many reasons to visit.
While not a food, per se, mint tea is a significant part of the culinary culture of Morocco - so significant that we had to include it. It's rare and highly unlikely that a traveler will make it through their trip without being served at least one cup of mint tea, and there shouldn't even be a doubt in one's mind that this mint tea isn't the best in the world. This tea has been given the name 'Moroccan whiskey,' according to BBC, thanks to its popularity. The tea is made with sugar scraped from sugarcane (a copious amount, we might add) which is added to gunpowder tea along with spearmint leaves. When pouring, it's important that the teapot be held at such a height so as to create a froth at the top of the cup known as the 'crown.'
Tagine has gained popularity over the last few years in the U.S. as well since it's fairly easy to replicate at home. However, there's no such better tagine as the dishes one can find in Morocco, where the cooking method originated. The dish itself can be anything kind of meat with any kind of vegetables in a broth or sauce; it's the manner in which it's cooked that gives it its name. A tagine is a clay pot with a cone-shaped lid, and these are found so commonly around Morocco and there's little chance you can find a restaurant without a tagine dish, and a side of bread, on the menu.
Harira is a significant dish in Morocco because it's with this soup that the fast during Ramadan is broken each day at sunset. Tomatoes are what give this soup its bold color and base, with lentils, chickpeas, and lamb added for protein and meatiness. The soup is served with a pretzel called chebakkiya that's both sweet and sticky, and the soup is finished with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some fresh coriander for herbiness.
You may have had couscous before but chances are, you've never had it Moroccan-style. Also known as seksu, couscous is usually rolled by hand in Morocco and is cooked via steam. Traditionally, a dish with couscous is cooked by placing the meat in a layer to cover the bottom of a heavy pot with couscous layered over that, followed by vegetables that are lined along the sides. It's rare to find a couscous dish with the sauce served over top of the dish, and it's usually always served on the side, along with a bowl of buttermilk or sweet raisin preserves.
B'stilla is a pie that's authentic to the cuisine of Fez, and it's a delicious one, at that. While unfamiliar to travelers, this pie is traditionally made with pigeon meat as the protein. Eggs seasoned with saffron, almonds, fresh coriander, and cinnamon are often added to that to create a unique, bold flavor. To finish, this pie is not served with a savory topping; rather, it's lightly dusted with a layer of powdered sugar and cinnamon. It seems unusual, yes, but it's altogether a delicious addition to any Moroccan menu and worth trying if one can find it during their travels.
Not to be confused with b'stilla, b'ssara is a completely different dish entirely, and it's also completely meatless. This is also one of the most affordable dishes a traveler will find during their time in Morocco, costing only pennies for one bowl of the soup, according to BBC. It's made with dried beans and served with a drizzle of olive oil, a brief sprinkle of cumin, and a side of fresh, warm bread. Simple, yet delicious and filling, this dish is often served for breakfast.