Moroccan cuisine and its rich flavors, spices, and herbs are becoming more popular as tourism in Morocco keeps thriving and more people get introduced to Moroccan food. The local cuisine in Morocco is influenced mainly by Berber, Andalusian, Arabic, and Mediterranean cuisines but Moroccan food is unique and quite different than all of the above-mentioned cuisines. There are many finger-licking Moroccan dishes that you should try when visiting Morocco and in this article, we’ll share the best of Moroccan food and everything you need to know about it.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Historically, Morocco was an important stop on the ancient spice route and the country has openly welcomed imported spices from traders around the world. Most Moroccan dishes are enriched with spicy, earthy, and sweet flavors by freshly ground herbs and spices. Some of the most commonly used spices in Moroccan cuisine include cumin, turmeric, paprika, cardamom, cinnamon, white/black pepper, ground ginger, hot red peppers, ras el hanout, and ground ginger.
But to bring out the hearty flavors of Moroccan cuisine, just the spices aren’t enough. This brings us to the next point.
More than one-fifth of Morocco’s territory is arable and the unique climate and fertile land mean you can grow pretty much anything in Morocco. With that being said, here are some of the most commonly used ingredients in Moroccan dishes; couscous, parsley, lemons, chicken/lamb, cilantro, onions, dried fruits, harissa, almonds, sesame, garlic, olives, honey, and orange flower water.
Eating In Morocco
The typical meal in Morocco starts with a salad, followed by a Dwaz or a Tagine. Main course meals usually consist of meat and vegetables with the two most common types of meat being chicken, beef, and lamb. Traditionally, Moroccan cuisine uses a lot of spices but Moroccan food isn’t necessarily spicy but rather flavorful. Most dishes aren’t considered to be spicy hot.
Moroccans eat with a fork and a spoon or with their hands. When using your hands, if you want to do it right, use your index, middle finger, and thumb, and try not to use your left hand except for eating bread or passing items along the table.
For the best Moroccan food, just follow the locals. Go to restaurants they’re eating in, queue up in front of street food stalls where locals wait, and don’t be afraid to ask locals for advice.
We have traveled around Morocco and tasted a lot of different dishes from different parts of the country. That’s why this list will be longer than most other lists you find on the internet. We have divided the traditional dishes into eight subcategories: salads, breakfast dishes, main dishes, snacks, drinks, street food, and sweets.
Moroccan Food- Salads
Similar to Middle Eastern countries, Moroccans serve a variety of cold and hot salads as an appetizer before a meal. Here are the most common Moroccan salads.
Tomato jam is a dip made of roasted tomatoes, jam, cinnamon, orange flower water, and honey. I know it might sound like an odd appetizer but its sweet flavor can do miracles when it comes to opening up an appetite.
Moroccan Mixed Salad
Traditional mixed salads include cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce or mint. Some varieties may include rice, eggs, beets, or even potatoes. This salad is usually served as an appetizer but sometimes it also comes alongside a couscous or a tagine.
Taktouka is a cold salad that consists of roasted peppers and tomatoes topped with coriander, lemon, and cumin. Traditionally, the vegetables are roasted in a wooden oven, something that adds a special flavor to the salad but unfortunately, it’s very rare to find restaurants/eateries that prepare taktouka like this nowadays.
Matbucha is similar to taktouka. It also consists of roasted peppers (without tomatoes) but it’s topped with chili pepper and garlic that gives the salad a hot spicy flavor.
Zaalouk is one of the most popular Moroccan salads. It’s made of cooked tomatoes and eggplants topped with a handful of local spices. Moroccans say nothing can open an appetite like a good zaalouk and I have to agree. It’s one of my favorite Moroccan appetizers.
This is another seemingly odd appetizer. The main ingredients are sweet potatoes, honey, and raisins and the salad has a yam-like texture. If you like sweet potatoes, you’ll probably like this salad but since I’m not the biggest fan of sweet potatoes and raisins, I just had to pass on this one.
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What do they eat for breakfast in Morocco?
Usually, the most common things Moroccans eat for breakfasts are local breads, olives, pancakes, jam, goat cheese, and of course, local tea. Here are some of the most popular Moroccan breakfasts.
Khobz – Moroccan Bread
The first walk around a street market in Marrakech was enough to understand how important bread is to Moroccan cuisine. Traditionally, every neighborhood in Morocco would have a neighborhood bread oven that would bake bread twice a day. Nowadays, that’s not the case anymore but you can still find some delicious breads on the streets, markets, and of course restaurants. The most popular Moroccan bread is hhobz. It’s made of yeast, water, flour, wheat, semolina, and salt. Traditionally, it’s eaten for breakfast but you can also see it accompanying a lot of Moroccan main course dishes.
This delicious breakfast snack is basically a square-shaped flattened, dough filled with onion, tomatoes, and peppers. You can find stuffed msemen at most street food stalls across the country.
Harcha bread is a thick flatbread made with semolina. This bread is a bit thicker than msemen and khobz but not as common. Most people eat it for breakfast but you can also get it as a snack sold by a lot of street food vendors throughout the day.
Maticha o Lbid
Often referred to as “Berber Omelete”, this dish consists of fried eggs, tomatoes, onions, and some local herbs and spices. It’s usually consumed by scooping it from the plate with a warm piece of bread.
A lot of locals say that amlou is like the Berber version of Nutella, just a lot healthier. Amlou is a paste that consists of peanuts, almonds, and olive oil. Traditionally, it’s served for breakfast as a spread for Moroccan breakfast breads.
On first sight, Dchicha looks like a relatively-flavorless, gooey-looking stew but don’t let its appearance fool you; this is actually a very delicious soup. The base of this dish is milk and barley, seasoned with thyme. Dchicha has a subtle flavor and it’s not one of Morocco’s tastiest dishes but it’s certainly one of the healthiest things one can eat for breakfast.
Moroccan Food- Soups and Stews
Soups and stews are an integral part of Moroccan cuisine. Some of them are eaten with a bread, others as appetizers, and some soups are reserved for important holidays. Here are the most popular Moroccan soups.
Loubia is a stew made of white beans, tomatoes, and garlic with a handful of local spices. This stew is quite popular; you can find it in most restaurants but there are also a lot of street food vendors who sell it on the street when the weather is cooler.
Snail soup is one of the most popular street food dishes in Morocco but a lot of restaurants have it in their menu too. At a glance, it looks like a bunch of snails thrown in a cup of water but this one is a real local delicacy. The soup is served with a spoon and a toothpick. The toothpick is for plucking the snails from their shells while the spoon is for tasting the delicious broth. I know it sounds disgusting but snails actually taste a lot like mushrooms and are quite tasty.
The name of this one is rather self-explanatory. The Moroccan Lentils is a simple lentils stew enriched with cumin and coriander. Consumed with a piece of bread, it’s one of the best vegetarian options in Morocco.
This stew is common for the northern and eastern parts of the country. On appearance, it looks like the main ingredient of bissara are chickpeas but the stew consists of broad beans and garlic, topped with cumin and olive oil. A lot of people eat it for breakfast but it can also be consumed as a side dish.
Harira is the absolute king of Moroccan stews. It’s made of lentils and chickpeas and traditionally, it’s the first thing people eat to break the Ramadan fast. However, nowadays, you can find harira in most restaurants and it’s one of the most frequently ordered starters in Morocco.
Moroccan Food- Main Dishes
Next, it’s time for the best part of Moroccan cuisine- the main dishes. Here are some of the most popular ones
Couscous is one of the most common main course meals in Morocco and a dish you shouldn’t miss when visiting Morocco. This dish consists of steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina served with a stew. It originates from Morocco but today, it’s popular across North Africa and the Middle East, including Israel. At a glance, it can be compared to rice or bulgur, but couscous has a very unique texture and the local spices give it a distinguishing flavor.
Fish Chermoula is a dish that consists of fish and a thick marinade specifically prepared for fish and other kinds of seafood. The marinade is a mix of local spices and herbs and comes in different variants in different parts of Morocco but all of them have one thing in common; they make seafood taste a lot better!
Merguez is a delicious, juicy lamb sausage that’s equally popular in the entire North African region and Morocco is no exception. On its own, it makes a great street food snack but it’s usually served alongside a piece of bread or in a tagine.
Mechoui is a delicately prepared, slow-roasted lamb. Traditionally, mechoui is prepared over a coal fire pit. Occasionally, you can still see some street food vendors selling mechoui and it can be found on some restaurants’ menus but not as frequent as some of the other Moroccan main course dishes. So, if you ever see it, make sure to try it. When prepared right, the meat is so tender and moist that the meat falls right off the bone and the smell of fresh herbs and spices used in the preparation process are a real treat for the senses.
Kefta (derived from the Persian kofta) is basically the Moroccan version of meatballs. The meatballs are made of ground meat, usually beef or lamb and are often paired up with couscous and vegetables.
Tajine is a ubiquitous Moroccan dish prepared in a clay pot with the final result being a delicious slowly-cooked savory stew. The main ingredients are meat, usually beef lamb or chicken and/or vegetables. You can find different varieties of tajine, including lamb and almonds tajine, lamb eggplant tajine, olive and vegetables tajine, lamb and mango tajine, etc.
All these dishes might use different ingredients but they all have one thing in common; they all have a rich flavor and because they take so long to prepare, you can taste every sprinkle of spice that participated in making this delicious savory stew.
Chicken With Preserved Lemons and Olives
No list of food in Morocco can be complete without mentioning this ubiquitous classic dish. This dish is also prepared in a traditional clay pot. First, the chicken is roasted with a lot of onions, saffron and ginger and preserved olives and lemons are added as the finishing touch. The final result is a feast for the eyes and the nose as well as the stomach.
This dish gives the meatballs a Moroccan touch. The meatballs are cooked in a tagine with tomatoes, onions, and a lot of local spices topped with an egg before serving. It’s usually served with a bread and when locals finish their meal, they dip the bread in the remaining tomato sauce. It’s absolutely delicious!
Lamb/Beef With Prunes
I know prunes don’t look like the most appetizing thing in the world but when used properly, they can do wonders when it comes to enhancing the flavor of a dish and that’s the case with Moroccan lamb/beef with prunes. The meat is cooked with saffron, ginger, and onions until buttery and tender. Subsequently, prunes poached in honey are used as topping on the meat while it cooks and the entire thing is garnished with crunchy, fried almonds.
This unique combination showcases the rich flavors of Moroccan cuisine and what kind of list of the best food in Morocco would this be if I don’t include one of my favorite Moroccan dishes in it?
Rfissa is a hearty Moroccan dish that’s frequently served at formal events and different traditional celebrations. The dish consists of lentils and chicken meat cooked in a blend of ras el hanout and fenugreek seeds garnished with quail eggs, nuts, and msemmen bread on the side.
Stuffed Camel Spleen
I know this one sounds disgusting but it’s actually really tasty. The final form of this dish is a sausage and since it’s made of spleen, it’s very soft and creamy. The sausage is usually filled with lamb or beef, a bit of hump fat, and some olives and it’s cooked in a myriad of local spices. It’s typically served in a sandwich and is available at street food stalls but in a lot of restaurants too.
Now that we’ve covered the most popular Moroccan food when it comes to main dishes, let’s see what are some of the most popular snacks in Morocco.
Morocco is the world’s 5th largest producer of olive oil and in a country with an abundance of olives, it’s only natural that olives are an important part of Moroccan cuisine. You can get a bowl of spiced olives at most street food markets and it’s also a very common appetizer.
To put it simply, Briouat is the Moroccan version of Samosa. This sweet-savory snack consists of a fried dough stuffed with chicken, beef, vegetables, or cheese. Some briouats are also stuffed with sweet fillings and served as dessert.
Moroccan Goat Cheese
You might not associate North Africa with cheese but Morocco is an exception. I suppose this is one of the fields in which the Mediterranean influence in Moroccan cuisine kicks in. Whatever the case, goat cheese is quite popular in Morocco and you can find it in most markets and in the medinas. The cheese is soft and mild and comes in two versions- salty or non-salty.
Moroccan Spicy Sardines
Did you know that Morocco is one of the largest exporters of sardines? Hence, it’s no surprise that sardines are one of the popular local snacks and you can get spicy sardines at all street food markets in the coastal regions of Morocco. The most popular version of spicy sardines includes stuffing them with chermoula sauce and deep-frying them.
Now that we covered so many different dishes, it’s time to check out some of the most popular local drinks. Let’s start with the basics.
Can You Drink Alcohol in Morocco?
As you probably know, alcohol is forbidden in Islam but you can still find some establishments serving alcohol in Morocco, mostly licensed hotels, bars, and some supermarkets in tourist areas. However, you won’t see any locals drinking in public. Their national drink is…
Mint tea or Moroccan whiskey, as they call it, is basically a green tea whose flavor is enriched with a lot of mint leaves and sugar. It’s incredibly tasty and I can totally understand why it’s considered to be Morocco’s national drink.
If you like dairy drinks, you should definitely try raib. Raib is a sugary, thick drink made of fermented milk but don’t let its look fool you; this drink is actually very tasty. It’s usually served with honey and consumed with harcha. A lot of locals also drink it without any sugar or salt but this version is not as tasty as the sweet one.
L’ben is a creamy milk that looks like a mix of kefir and ayran just not as salty. It goes perfectly with couscous or any Moroccan bread. Locals usually consume it for breakfast.
If traveling the world and tasting local wine and spirits is your thing, you should definitely try grey wine. It doesn’t taste like your average wine and it’s not available across the country. If you want to try the finest grey wines, you should visit the Meknès/Fès region.
Moroccan Street Food
Next, let’s see what’s cooking on the streets around Morocco.
Even though it looks like a poor man’s pizza, Berber pizza is actually quite tasty. It’s very simple and easy to prepare with the main ingredients being yellow onions, hard beef suet (fat), and some spices like salt, cumin, paprika, pepper, turmeric, and ginger. It’s one of the tastiest street food snacks in Morocco.
Makouda is a deep-fried potato patty topped with coriander and local spices. Makouda’s are really tiny, so you would have to order a bunch to get full but it’s totally worth it. Makouda is a great choice for afternoon or late-night snack.
This is basically the Moroccan version of kebab and undoubtedly one of the tastiest street food snacks in Morocco. Brochettes are usually served on skewers with a Moroccan bread and you can find it in street markets across the country.
If brochettes are the Moroccan version of kebab, baghrir is the Moroccan version of pancakes. It’s soft with tiny holes on one side and slightly sweet in flavor. The most common way of eating baghrir is by dipping it in a honey-butter mixture or jam.
We mentioned msemen as one of the most popular breakfast breads in Morocco but we also said it can be consumed as a snack and is available at most street food stalls. Msemen Bchehma translates to msemen with fat and this is a rather vivid description. This snack consists of msemen stuffed with suet (a meat fat), coriander, and chili powder. It’s a perfect cheap snack to grab on the go.
Kalinte is a popular snack from the city of Chefchaouen (the Blue City) that consists of pureed grilled chickpeas topped with chili, salt, and cumin. Goes perfectly with a pint of cold beer.
Moroccan Food- Sweets & Desserts
Finally, what kind of guide to Moroccan food would this be if we didn’t include any local desserts? Let’s see which are some of Morocco’s favorite sweets.
Dates Filled With Walnuts
Morocco is home to over 100 different varieties of dates and if you visit, it would be a shame to leave without tasting at least a few. Traditionally, dates are consumed along harira to break the Ramadan fast because date palms are considered to be the “tree of life” in Islam. You can eat dates fresh but if you’re looking for a great dessert, go for some dates filled with walnuts.
If you like sweet and salty and are open-minded when it comes to combining food that seems incompatible, you’ll surely like pastilla. Pastilla is basically a chicken or pigeon pie with a flaky texture topped with powdered sugar. It’s often served as a dessert on most formal meetings or traditional celebrations.
When speaking of Moroccan food, we just can’t forget to mention this flower-shaped, sesame-topped cookie dipped in honey. You can find them all over the street food markets in Morocco. If you struggle to find them, just keep your eye open for a group of bees; they always roam around the chebakia street food stalls.
Figs On A String
Figs are almost as popular as dates when it comes to desserts. You can find a lot of street food stalls that sell dried figs on a string. I’m not the biggest fan of figs but when dried, they do taste much better (at least in my opinion).
Above we mentioned that briwate can come in a savory version (Moroccan samosa), the sweet briwate is one of the tastiest sweets in Morocco. The preparation method is the same but the filling is different. Sweet private is usually filled with sugar and almonds and a layer of sugar coating on the top.
Gazelle horns are crescent-shaped sweet made from almond paste, orange flower water, and cinnamon. You’ll find them at street food markets and a lot of people eat them with their afternoon tea. They’re usually slightly more expensive than most other sweets because of the almonds.
Ghoriba are chewy, shortbread cookies with a crispy crust. There are several variations of ghoriba but the most common one includes stuffing them with almonds and topping them with orange flower water and sesame seeds.
I know this might sound weird and difficult to imagine a peanut that’s not salty but we often forget that we actually add salt to the peanuts and they don’t have a strong flavor when unsalted. So, yeah, sugared peanuts are actually quite good.
If you like exotic sweets, then you might also want to check out our list of Turkish desserts.
This rounds up this list of Moroccan food you have to try when visiting. One final piece of advice I can give you about Moroccan food is…
Never refuse food in Morocco
If you’re lucky enough to be invited for dinner in a local’s house or offered food for free, never say no. This is considered rude in Morocco and if you’re offered you should always accept. Even if you’re not hungry…
Enjoying this post and want to see more like these? Then make sure to check out our ultimate guide to Uzbek food.
Did you like this guide to Moroccan food? Which one of these dishes seems the most appealing? Let us know in the comments!
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