They say that the longer a meal takes to prepare, the better it tastes. If this is true, Moroccan food is the best in the world. Traditional Moroccan foods take hours to prepare and it’s worth it. There are so many flavors and layers to each dish.
Eating out in Morocco can be intimidating. When we first went to a restaurant in Morocco, we don’t know where to begin so we ordered safe and boring dishes. To help you understand Moroccan cuisine, we’ve round up the best Moroccan dishes that you must try on your next trip to the Middle East or to make at home.
A Guide to Traditional Moroccan Foods
To help you decide what dishes to start with when you do sit down at a restaurant, here are some must-try Moroccan foods to get you started.
If you are a vegetarian, you are going to love Moroccan foods.
When we prepared our Moroccan meal, our feast started with many salads. We had so many different salads ranging from cabbage, carrots, and even lemon and oranges to our favorite salad, eggplant (aubergine) zalouk. The eggplant is slow-cooked and then puréed into a flavourful dip with garlic, spices, and tomatoes. Enjoy reading these 15 Tips for Easy Vegan Travel
1. Moroccan Tagine
Tagine is probably the most popular entrée you’ll order in Morocco and it is magnificent. If you haven’t had it, you must try it in Morocco. Tagine is a dish of meat and vegetables slow cooked in a clay pot . It can either be chicken, lamb, or beef layered with a myriad of vegetables, and spices.
The flavors infuse with olive oil and spices during cooking and everything comes out tender and delicious. Our chicken tagine consisted of Berber chicken with Vegetables and our beef tagine was served with prunes and almonds. Make your own chicken tagine at home.
2. Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives
Chicken tagine can be prepared with lemons and olives, the traditional Chicken With Preserved Lemon and Olives recipe is a bit different. Spice is the life of food in Morocco and one of the spinces we bought while visiting Marrakech was saffron, an optional choice to add an enchanting fragrance. Get the recipe to make at home here.
4. Chermoula Marinade
If you are a fish eater, Chermoula is a marinade of herbs and spices for baking or grilling seafood. It’s also used fish tagine called (mqualli) made with layered potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers. There are different mixes but seasonings include coriander and saffron. For a bit of spice add some chili peppers. Make it at home with this recipe
4. Fried Sardines
Speaking of fish, fried sardines are often sauteed or stuffed with Chermoula. Sardines are classic street foods in Morroco that are either deep fried or classically fried. Morocco is the world’s largest exporter of sardines so naturally, they are a staple food of Morocco.
5. Eggplant Zalouk
This yummy dish of eggplant and tomato is our favourite of Moroccan foods and is often touted as the best of Moroccan salads. The eggplant and tomatoes are mixed with garlic, olive oil, and spices and served as a side dish or it is an appetizer served alongside crusty bread. See how to make it here.
6. Eggplant Fritters
Eggplant (Aubergine) is used a lot in Moroccan cooking and deep fried eggplant fritters are delicious. The eggplant is pureed and mixed with eggs, breadcrumbs and cardamon spice and then fried in olive oil. My mouth is watering just thinking of it!
Couscous is the staple side dish in Morocco similar to rice or quinoa. Moroccan foods mix flavors in their couscous including raisins, spices, and vegetables. Remember, Morocco was a part of the spice route, so when you visit the country, be prepared for meals filled with spices as you have never had before.
8. Moroccan Chickpea Stew
Moroccan cuisine must be the healthiest in the world. It’s filled with endless vegetables, herbs and spices, and legumes. Olive oil is made from Moroccan olives and is a staple of the food. I love eating the array of stews with fresh bread.
Meat and vegetables are a staple of many of the stews in Morocco, but for the vegetarians out there, chickpeas are an excellent source of protein. Slow-cooked with tomatoes and potatoes, this is the perfect dish served over couscous. Make it for your own at home dipping with this recipe.
9. Harira Soup
Harira Soup is a popular starter dish in Morocco, but it is often eaten at lunch on its own as it has everything you need for a well-balanced meal. This tomato-based soup is filled with chickpeas, lentils, vegetables, and meat. Add some bread to that dish and you have yourself a hearty and filling meal. This is often served during the month of Ramadan. Make this chickpea, cilantro, and lemon soup with this recipe.
Another popular soup in Morocco is Bissara. Made with Fava beans, olive oil and cumin, this soup is often served at breakfast. You can also make it with split peas, see the recipe here.
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11. Babbouche – Moroccan Snail Soup
If you are feeling really adventurous, order a bowl of snail soup. It isn’t as bad as it sounds if you like snails or escargot. Plus, it is believed to help with digestion.
12. Brochettes or Kebabs
If you are looking for a quick eat, stop at a streetside stall to enjoy a kebab. These skewers of chicken, beef or lamb are spiced to perfection. They’re quick, cheap, and delicious. It’s Moroccan fast food and a kebab will tie you over between meals.
Makouda is popular street food in Morocco. These deep fried potato fritters can be eaten on their own or in a sandwich. It can be served on the side as well.
Khobz is the Moroccan word for oven baked bread that is made in round flat loaves. Khobs is used for picking up dipping sauce and for scooping up vegetables and salads.
15. Baba Ghanoush
Baba ghanoush has always been our favorite Moroccan dish, even before visiting Morocco. This eggplant-based dip is mixed with onions, tomatoes, and various Moroccan spices. It’s a delicious starter served with bread for dipping.
Speaking of desserts, make sure you try Moroccan dessert, there are plenty of delectable snacks to be had and they know how to enjoy a good sweet.
This nutty almond treat is a staple of Moroccan desserts. Baklava (or baklawa) is delicious. Made with syrup infused with orange flower water to create a sticky texture of phyllo pastry layered into heavenly goodness. Baklava is a must try Moroccan dish when visiting the country.
17. Briwat Rolls
Briwat Rolls are another dish you must try in Morocco. Briwat Rolls are layered deep fried filo pastries stuffed with sweet or savory ingredients. They can be served as appetizers or deserts depending on what you put in them. These bite-sized snacks come in different shapes like triangles, long spring rolls or squares.
18. Ras El Hanout
Ras El Hanout is a spice mix that is used as the base for most Moroccan cooking. It is used as a rub, in soups, and as a marinade. It is made up of 13 spices and when in Morroco, you should pick up a mixture for your cooking at home. The main spices that go into it are cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, chili peppers, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, ginger, peppercorn.
19. Cold Salad
Moroccan cold salads are a large part of the meal. Key ingredients are carrots, chickpeas, cabbage, fresh herbs and spices, vinegar, olive oil, and garlic. My mouth is watering just thinking of it.
Bastilla is a meat pie in Morocco that is filled with pigeons. It is often referred to as pigeon pie. If you are making it at home, you can substitute chicken to make this Moroccan chicken pie. Bastilla is often served during holidays and special occasions such as weddings and birthdays. The meat is infused with Moroccan spices of saffron, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. To make Bastilla at home, Check out this recipe.
21. Gazelle Horns Kaab el Ghazal
Don’t worry, Kaab el Ghazal is not made from the horns of a gazelle. Instead, it shaped like a gazelle horn. This delicious pastry is filled with almond paste and orange blossom flower water and cinnamon.
22. Nuts and Olives
You’ll be able to order starters of olives at any eatery in Morocco and often nuts are on the menu or easily picked up at supermarkets. Olives are usually tossed with spicy ketchup or preserved lemons. But the way we like them is with nothing at all. Make sure to indulge in pistachios when in Morocco, they are so expensive everywhere else in the world. It’s a treat to be able to munch on them at will.
23. Mint Tea
So it may not be Moroccan food (it’s a liquid if you didn’t get it), but tea is a staple in Moroccan cuisine. The mint tea of Morocco is fresh and filled with leaves and a lot of sugar. Morocco is a Muslim country so you won’t find a lot of alcohol (although, Westerners will be able to drink wine and beer at restaurants and riads)
We had the best mint tea at the main market of Marrakech (Djemaa el-Fna) where they put blocks of sugar cubes on top of min leaves. Once you order a cup, they pour hot water over the ingredients melding them all together. Green tea is also a very popular tea served when visiting a Moroccan household or establishment.
Strange Traditional Moroccan Foods
If you are feeling adventurous, these are the more unique foods of Morocco. I know what you are thinking, isnt’ snail soup and pigeon pie weird enough? Yes, it is but these foods are even more unique. We didn’t try these (or the pigeon pie for that matter, although we had chicken. But then again, who knows, maybe it was pigeon! But they can be ordered.
24. Sheep Head – 25. Camel Spleen
How to Eat Morrocan Food
Morrocan’s eat three meals a day but the main meal is mid-day as opposed to dinner. So when dining out, order your large meal at lunch and for dinner enjoy lighter meals of breads with dipping sauce and kebabs.
Eat with Your Hands in Morocco
When eating Moroccan Cuisine, be sure to use your right hand. Pick up foods with your right thumb and first two fingers. Often times you’ll be scooping up dips, stews, and salads with fresh bread using your hands. Don’t lick your fingers. If you do, save it until the very end of the meal.
Insider Tip: If you are visiting a Moroccan household, be sure to bring a small gift. We went to the market to order some figs and dates.
Moroccan Cuisine is Expensive in Restaurants
Moroccan cuisine is expensive. When you go out for dinner in Marrakech or other Moroccan cities, expect to pay a little more than you will in other Middle Eastern countries, but there is a reason for this. Moroccan cuisine takes a very long time to prepare.
We had read this in our Lonely Planet Marrakech guide, but until we saw firsthand just how much preparation goes into Moroccan foods, we didn’t believe it. As our chef worked his magic, we realized that we could never learn how to cook Chicken Tagine or Moroccan sauces in one short day.
Street Food in Morocco
Some of the cheapest eats are on the streets. So be sure to enjoy a kebab at a street-side stall. Street food in Morocco is a way of life and if you don’t go out to a market, you’ll be missing out.
My recommendation is to look for a spot filled with locals and join in. Moroccans are friendly people and they’ll be happy to help you choose the best Moroccan dishes if you look confused. We never shy away from asking, “what’s good?”
Moroccan Cooking and Preparations
When I asked our guide Ali, how long the chef works each day, he told us that there are two shifts for chefs at work. The Sous Chef works all morning preparing, cutting, and putting together all the spices and ingredients and then the Chef comes in at 3:00 to start preparing for the evening meals.
They only make a limited choice of main meals for the menu each evening as so much work goes into each dish. The patrons of Ryad el Cadi and high-end restaurants must rely on the expertise of the chef to choose their meal for the evening and believe me, you won’t go wrong.
Moroccan Cuisine is some of the best in the world. If you get the chance, try to eat at a local’s house. I said it earlier, Moroccans are very friendly, so don’t be surprised if you are invited home for dinner by a friendly local.
If you don’t feel comfortable eating with strangers, there are many tours that offer home-cooked meals as a part of their itineraries. I suggest booking a food tour or a cooking course like the one we did at Riyad El Cadi.
We spent an afternoon preparing and cooking Morrocan food in an incredible multi-course meal at Riad El Cadi in Marrakech We had already been in Morroco for a week and tasted a lot of food. But taking a cooking class helped us enjoy the next week’s cuisine to the fullest.
When we arrived they had green tea and appetizers waiting for us as we smelled the rich aromas in the air. We then sat at a table filled with pistachios, olives, and pastries placed beside another table filled with all the ingredients we needed. This is common when dining in Morocco.
Plus, we now have the confidence to order whatever we wish off the menu when eating at Moroccan restaurants. It was one of the best afternoons we had in Marrakech. If you go, make sure you book a cooking class of your own.
Info: You can book a Moroccan cooking class for $60 USD/pp at Get Your Guide.It includes a three-hour cooking demonstration by a gourmet chef, great conversation, appetizers, tea and still/sparkling water throughout the day. The course was followed by a candlelight dinner in a fine dining establishment. Oh and don’t forget the bottle of wine for two people included.