Depending upon where you travel to and through in Morocco, any type of cuisine is discoverable. If you are traveling through metropolitan cities, like Casablanca, you can find anywhere from Asian fusion, to fresh catches, and of course, the classic Moroccan favorites. It is North Africa, so the entree variety is as large as the cultural regions surrounding it. A traveler could find a French bakery on one corner and traditional Spanish paella on the next.
Although the diverse country has been inhabited by many people, traditional, Berber cuisine is still considered authentic. Although Arabic food from the Middle East can too be considered a huge influence, it is not synonymous with this piece of Africa. Most ‘mom and pop’ local shops and markets will offer wonderful, inexpensive traditional cuisine, so keep your eye out for corner restaurants with lots of locals. Skip out on google’s ‘top eats’ to get the best, most genuine experience. Just make sure you look for some of these delicious, native delights on the menu.
Named after the earthenware pot it is cooked within, tajine is traditionally stewed for hours, bringing together the creation of flavors and spices. The concept of cooking in tajine was depicted first in the 9th century, through the story One Thousand and One Nights, an ancient Arabic tale.
Most Tajine is made with chicken, as this is the most commonly used meat in Morocco. First, most will add onions to create a delicious, rich base. Adding olive oil and spices (ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, paprika, and chili). Usually, fresh veggies are cut and added into the caramelized onions, along with chicken. It is served in a cone-like piece of pottery to prevent water from the steam escaping. This returns the moisture back into the dish, historically optimal for regions with little water supply.
Also a Moroccan favorite, couscous has a great tradition. Steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina have been known to bring the country unspoken unity once every week. ‘Couscous Friday’ is representative of the culture; each week, there is sharing, storytelling, giving, friendship, and communion amongst families and strangers alike.
When walking through a major Moroccan hub like Casablanca at the end of the week, smells of the significant caramelized onions with cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander fill the entire streets. On this day, after going to the mosque, a family might sit down to dine; they will usually make extra to ensure there is a plate to give to the homeless.
With carrots, potatoes, turnips, and any other type of vegetable sold on the street, couscous comes together as a garden-filled dish. Most people will add poultry, along with dates or raisins to pop in sweetness for variety. Make sure you get some couscous; usually, you would grab a spoon and eat around the dish with others. Embrace the uniqueness!
A hearty pie, that is thousands of years old, Pastilla is one of the most ancient cuisines in Morocco. It is an elaborate dish, filled with meat, wrapped up in a flaky, light pastry wrap. Historically made with squab, a type of pigeon that is rather difficult to come by these days, shredded chicken and beef are used in place nowadays.
The meat mixture is cooked a day ahead, added to onions, water, parsley, and more herbs/spices. It is chilled overnight, packed into the pastry, coated with a custard-like, eggy sauce and baked. It is a hearty dish that is entertaining to eat; making its first appearance in Fez, you are sure to find a delicious rendition, if you stop in the ancient town.