Morocco is full of colourful and diverse culinary delights. There's so much we can recommend you try on your travels – Morocco's prized couscous, the golden fritters of maakouda, deep-fried salty sardines with chermoula, soft doughnut-like sfenj – but the best advice is to follow your nose and follow the crowds. Moroccans know what's going on, and sharing delicious food is entrenched in their culture.
Must-try dishes in Morocco
Ah, the iconic Moroccan dish that's stood the test of time. These stews slow-cooked under a cone-shaped lid are the pride and joy of Berber and Moroccan cuisine, with endless variations and combinations of flavours. Chicken, olive and citrus is a well-known favourite, as is lamb or beef with prunes, fish with chermoula, and chicken and apricot. And what's it almost always served with? Khobz, or Middle Eastern flatbread, to mop up all of the sauces.
Often consumed by the bucketload during Ramadan to break the fast, this hearty soup is believed to have Berber roots and is now considered one of the national dishes of Morocco. Made from tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, rice, chunks of lamb and a whole range of spices, you'll be able to buy a bowl of this anywhere, from a streetside vendor to a high end restaurant – it's that popular.
Bastilla, or pastilla as it's known in other parts of the Maghreb, is a baked meat pie traditionally made with squab, but more commonly filled with chicken these days. Spices, blanched almonds, parsley, onions, pastry, saffron and butter all go into this layered pie that's then topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Served as a starter on special occasions and with vegetarian options readily available, it's definitely a crowd pleaser.
Make your way to Mechoui Alley in Marrakech to find some delectable roasted lamb or mutton for your travels. It's sold by the kilo and all it needs is a sprinkling of salt and cumin for the succulent meat to shine. There's also the local speciality of whole roasted sheep's head at these establishments too, if that takes your fancy.
Try some msemmen, also known as rghaif, a grilled flatbread made of paper-thin layers of dough folded on each other, often served at breakfast with a mint tea. It's thought to have originated in North African Berber cuisine (msemmen meaning 'well baked' in Berber languages) and you can commonly find them being flipped and fried in markets. Eat it plain, topped with honey and butter, or stuffed with kefta and onions or spicy herbs and vegetables.
Let's get the grill fired up. Brochettes, or kebabs, are Morocco's version of perfectly charred and cooked meats on a stick, often found smoking out streetside market stalls or restaurants around Marrakech. Also on the grill are merguez – small North African lamb sausages that pack a punch, seasoned with harissa, paprika and a cocktail of other spices. Both are often served with khobz (Middle Eastern flatbreads) and whatever other sides you'd like.
These semolina pancakes have a delicate texture and are one of the best Berber desserts around. As the pancake batter hits the pan, dozens of small holes appear on the surface, ready to soak up any number of lavish spreads and syrups you might wish to top your baghrir with. Jam, raisins, honey and butter syrup, perhaps with a hint of orange blossom – all of your sugary dreams have come true.
Kaab el Ghazal
Keep them sweet treats coming! Kaab el Ghazal, or gazelle horns, are a crescent-shaped cookie with a thin outer shell filled with almond paste. They are either coated with crushed nuts or dipped in orange blossom water and dusted with sugar. These nutty delights can also be found in parts of Algeria and Tunisia.
Vegetarian and vegan options in Morocco
Much of Morocco's cuisine does revolve around meat, but vegetables are an important staple and a crucial ingredient in many dishes of the Maghreb. Your diet can consist of more than just flatbread and hummus – trust us. Keep an eye out for vegetable-based tagines and couscous, the renowned zalouk (a smokey eggplant and tomato salad), vegetable briouats (triangular filled pastries) and cinammon oranges. Vegan options are slightly more limited, as many of the breads and couscous dishes have butter added to them, but your best bet is to enquire if yours can be made using oil instead. Otherwise, it's easy to dine well on varied vege offerings in Morocco.
Read more about vegetarian options in Morocco
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