Moroccan cuisine spices up travel

Prepare to be sent to a unique flavor destination, where it’s likely that your meal will be joined with a Coca-Cola in a glass bottle. Moroccan cuisine reflects Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. There are also Berber and African influences. Though, some dishes can only be found in Morocco.

Couscous

This wheat-based dish is one of Morocco’s most well-known foods. Semolina is balls of wheat that are steamed. It can be served as is or with a stew on top. Either way, it is a filling meal.

Tagine

No matter where you are in Morocco, you can’t escape from the tagines. The name describes the ceramic, triangular dish it is cooked in. There are many variations of tagines including couscous tagine, chicken and vegetable tagine, and kofta tagine. Kofta is meatballs, either made from beef or lamb mixed with spices. Chicken tagines are typically a yellow, orange color from the use of saffron. Saffron is common in most Moroccan cooking. I made a chicken tagine in a cooking class while I was in Morocco. I strayed from many vegetables and spices, seeing as I am a picky eater at times. My tagine came out bland while everyone else’s was wonderful. Chalk this up as another moment of my failed attempt to cook.

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Preparing our tagines. Photo courtesy of the Sahara Family photo sharing Facebook group.

Kefta magawara

This meal is a variation of a kofta tagine with tomato sauce and eggs. The meal will leave you busting at your seams, but wanting more.

Brochette

Kabobs, or brochette in Morocco, can be found in many countries around the world. If you are longing to take a break from tagines, I suggest ordering a kabob brochette. It can be chicken, beef, or lamb served on a bed of rice. On the street, it is just served on a skewer.

Mint tea

Moroccan mint tea is world famous, for good reasons. Sweetened with many spoonfuls of sugar in each glass, Moroccan mint tea is always a great after-meal treat. I had this tea whenever I had the possibility and the mint was never skunky. Fresh mint and love goes into this hot tea every time someone steeps it.

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Mint tea is served everywhere in Morocco, including mosaic factories.

Pastilla

Your mind may be thinking, “wait that looks like a Spanish word”. Pastilla is influenced by the culture in Andalucía, Spain. Pastilla is a confusing combination of both sweet and savory. Chicken or pigeon in broth is inside flaky layers baked into a pie. This small pie is topped with almonds, cinnamon, and sugar. Though some may shy away from this interesting dish, it was definitely my favorite dish in Morocco.

Fresh squeezed orange juice

Along with the sweet mint tea, Moroccan orange juice leaves those with a sweet tooth happy. Fresh squeezed orange juice can be found in every restaurant, bar, hotel, and stand in Morocco. The oranges are magical, dripping with the lifeblood of Moroccans and tourists alike.

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Fresh orange juice stands can be seen below in the medina of Marrakech.

Moroccan salads

Fresh vegetables are a staple of a Moroccan diet. The Moroccan salad combinations are endless. These are not the salads that you are used to in the US. These salads are typically finely chopped with spices and oils.  Different combinations of Moroccan salads feature cucumbers, lemons, potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas, carrots, and olives.

Beghrir

For breakfast or a snack, you can’t go wrong with beghrir or Moroccan pancakes. These rolled up, spongy pancakes are heavier than expected because they contain honeycomb syrup (sugar syrup, not maple syrup). They are made with semolina, the same grain that makes couscous. Biting into these cold, wet pancakes may be off-putting at first but their sweet flavor is beyond forgivable.

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