An afternoon spent exploring the local markets and rooftop riads in Morocco is an unbeatable experience. With the help of our guide, we navigated our way through the market streets behind Jemaa el-Fnaa – Marrakech’s beating heart, brushing shoulders with the swarms of locals and tourists jostling for the best street eats. After our first encounter with a shish kebab of mystery meat, I could see why our guide referred to Moroccan food as “the best in the world,” even if we had no idea what we were eating.
Morocco’s food scene is seriously to-die-for, with traces of Arabic, Berber, and European influences evident within each dish. With each dish varying between each region – your tastebuds won’t be bored.
Here are some of the best food options you must try in Morocco.
A visit to Morocco without sampling at least one tagine would be a crime. The word tagine refers to both the conical-shaped dish and the steaming food that’s cooked inside it – usually a blend of tasty sweet and savoury flavours. With each region offering a different take on the recipe, you’ll find anything from a kefta tagine, olive tagine, vegetable tagine and of course, the ever-popular lemon and chicken tagine is a must. A tagine every damn day? Yes. Yes. And more yes!
2. Chicken pastilla.
I was told by our local guide that that Moroccans consumed over 30 kilograms of sugar per year –and the chicken pastilla is the perfect example of the sweet and savoury fusion of flavours loved by locals in Morocco. A specialty of the Fes region, a fresh and flaky filo pastry is stuffed with chicken, almonds and flavoured with every spice under the sun, including saffron and cinnamon. While it might sound strange, the combination of flavours is both weird and wonderful.
3. Berber omelette.
Forget about your fave smashed avo and eggs at your local café – berber omelette might just change your life. Served and cooked in a tagine, this little guy will make you one happy traveller. Infused with every spice under the sun, tomatoes and mixed veg, this is a true winner.
4. Shish kebabs.
Served smoking hot and straight from a coal oven, a shish kebab of mystery meat is an experience that you will only find in Morocco. Head to any of the vendor’s in the market with a strong presence of locals to find the freshest produce, and to reduce the risk of any food-borne diseases and questionable hygiene practices.
5. Harira soup.
Often consumed during the month of Ramadan, this tasty tomato based soup is filled with noodles or rice along with chickpeas and a mix of spices, and is said to be “the soup of Morocco”.
6. Kaab el gahzal or ‘gazelles horns’.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Morocco without sampling the crescent-shaped gazelle horn and stuffed with almost paste and crunchy pastry on the outer. Best enjoyed with glass of mint tea for a quintessentially Moroccan experience. Some versions maybe also taste of orange blossom water, rose water and other aromatic ingredients so prepare your tastebuds for these sticky treats.
Best consumed on it’s own, after one bite, you will fall in love with this hot little treat. A makouda is a mouth-watering deep-fried potato cake found throughout the medinas of the north.
8. Kefta (meatballs).
Because what could be better then a saucy and spicy kefta, hot off the grill? The answer? Nothing. Because fresh grilled meat is the best, and when the guy behind the grill is having the time of his life, it makes it just that much better.
Okay, okay. Stay with us here. There’s something about bread in Morocco that will change your life. From bread fiends (like myself) to non-bread lovers, you will find your eyes will light up the moment that a serving of traditional bread lands on the table with Every. Single. Meal.
10. Olives and olive oil.
While this might not be a ground breaking Moroccan dish, olives and olive oil have a special place with every meal. FYI: Morocco is one of the top olive producers in the world, you’d assume they know what a great olive looks like.
11. Mystery street pancake (Mesamen).
How could you not fall in love with a hot-off-the-griddle flaky pastry filled with mystery meal, cheese, olives and an egg. A quick and cheap fix to satisfy those ‘hangry’ moments when you are lost in the medina – like most places, look for the vendors that are turning over large numbers of these hot treats to you know, be safe and stuff.
This traditional Arabic dish can be found throughout the Middle East, but hey, might as well feast on this tasty side as much as possible when in Morocco.
13. Falafels and hummus.
Similar to tabouli, while falafels and hummus may not have originated from Morocco, you will find this delicious combination by the bucket load at various restaurants when in Morocco.
14. Cous cous.
An essential side to accompany each and every meal.
Ready to embark on your very own foodie adventure through Morocco? Go here and check out Morocco trips and beyond.
Comment below and tell us your favourite Moroccan or Middle East dishes. Go! Go! Go!