You’re bound to have tasted a Moroccan dish at some point, if only couscous served instead of rice. There is a vast range of dishes in the Moroccan repertoire; many are surprised to learn it leans as heavily on cold salads, mint...
The main meal is served at mid-day and begins with hot and cold salads, followed by a main course and accompanied by bread which often serves instead of cutlery. A formal meal would include two main courses, served one after the other, followed by a couscous topped with meat and vegetables. A cup of sweet mint tea usually ends the meal.
Dinner is usually a lighter meal eaten at home at around 9pm.
The menu and schedule are different during the month of Ramadan, when no food or drink can pass a Muslim’s lips from dawn to dusk. Breakfast is obviously enormous, and includes a variety of breads as well as eggs, porridge and puddings. F’tour or iftar is the meal taken at sunset, after the evening call to prayer. It traditionally starts with a harira soup served with dates and chebakiya pastries, followed by milk or milkshakes, eggs dipped in cumin, various breads and mint tea. A late dinner follows.
Spices, condiments and sauces
Common spices include karfa (cinnamon), kamoun (cumin), kharkoum (turmeric), skinjbir (ginger), libzar (pepper),tahmira (paprika), qesbour (coriander) and zaafran beldi (saffron).
Amlou - a sweet spread made from almond paste, honey, and argan oil.
Charmoula - a marinade made of herbs, oil, lemon juice, pickled lemons, garlic, cumin, and salt. It may also include onion, fresh coriander, ground chili peppers, black pepper, or saffron.
Harissa - a hot sauce from Tunisia made with a blend of hot peppers, garlic, coriander and caraway.
Limon dduk - preserved lemons.
Bread in Morocco - khobz or khübz - is usually round, flat and crusty. It’s often used in the place of utensils to
scoop up meat, vegetables, sauce, salads, dips and more. In a traditional home the dough will be made at home
then taken to the communal oven for baking.
Baghrir - a pancake that looks like a large crumpet.
Batbout (or mkhamer) - pita bread.
Khobz Belboula - barley bread.
Khobz dyal Smida - semolina bread.
Khobz dyal Zraa - wheat bread.
Krachel - sweet rolls with anise and sesame.
Msemmen - flat bread.
Salads are typically served as the first course and include both raw and cooked ingredients, served either hot or cold, accompanied by bread.
Bakkoula - spinach with olives flavoured with cumin, paprika, garlic and lemon.
Kahrmus - an eggplant purée similar to babaghanoush.
Lhzina - oranges and black olives flavoured with paprika.
Salade marocain - finely chopped tomato, cucumber and sometimes green pepper.
Taktouka - tomatoes, roasted peppers and garlic served at room temperature.
Zaalouk - a cooked eggplant and tomato mixture.
B’sara - a thick soup of dried broad beans with garlic and olive oil, traditionally eaten for breakfast.
Harira - a thick tomato and lentil soup with lamb, chickpeas, noodles, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and cayenne.
Often eaten as a meal in itself, especially during the month of Ramadan. Can be served with dates or sheba-keeya, a sticky pastry.
Briouwate - a pastry filled with meat or rice.
Couscous - a Berber dish made from steamed fine semolina grain with a topping of vegetables, lamb or chicken
in a hundred variations. Typically served after a tagine.
Djaj mhammar - roast chicken.
Ferakh Maamer - spring chicken stuffed with sweet couscous, raisins, almonds and sugar and slow cooked in
honey, onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and saffron.
Mechoui (or m’choui, mashwi) - roasted lamb or beef flavoured with paprika and cumin.
M’rouzia - a lamb or goat stew with raisins, cinnamon and almonds.
Pastilla (or Bsteeya, Bestilla) - a pigeon or chicken pie containing parsley, hard-boiled egg, almonds and honey
sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. There’s also a seafood version.
Tajine (or tagine) - a medley of chicken, meat, fish and/or vegetables slow-cooked in a special terracotta dish with a cone-shaped cover.
Tanjia - a dish from Marrakech traditionally made by men for men using the embers of a hammam’s furnace, and named for the pot in which it’s cooked. Involves large pieces of seasoned beef or lamb.
Dessert is often served at some point during the meal rather than at the end. Seasonal fruits rather than cooked desserts are often served at the close of a meal.
Bastilla - layers of flaky pastry with toasted almonds, cinnamon and custard flavoured with orange flower water.
Briouat bil luz - a pastry stuffed with almond paste.
Faqqas - a type of macaroon made with semolina flour.
Ghriyyaba - biscuits flavored with aniseed and sesame seeds, or almonds and raisins.
Halwa shebakia - dough shaped like a pretzel, deep-fried, dipped in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Often eaten during the month of Ramadan.
Kaab el ghzal (“gazelle’s horns”) - small, crescent-shaped pastry stuffed with almond paste and sprinkled with sugar.
Behla - the name comes from a word that means ‘stupid girl’ because the mixture doesn’t use eggs.
Ma’amoul - small shortbread pastries filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts (or almonds or figs).
Milk pastilla - a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough covered in sweetened milk and topped with crushed nuts.
Pastili - a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.
Rozz bel Hleeb - rice pudding flavoured with orange flower water.
Seffa (or sfaa) - sweet couscous made with cinnamon and sugar, served with cream and sometimes studded with prunes, raisins and almonds.
Sellu - roasted flour mixed with olive oil, honey, cinnamon and almonds or peanuts.
Sfenj - a doughnut sprinkled with sugar or soaked in honey.
Zucre Coco - coconut fudge cakes.
Snack and street food
Babouches - the street name for snails, boiled in a spicy broth and served with a pin or toothpick for prying them out of the shell; said to guard against colds..
Bee hoon - seasoned rice vermicelli.
Beghir - pancakes.
Bocadillo - the Spanish word for ‘sandwich’ is widely used in Morocco to describe a baguette filled with salad and a choice of meats or fish.
Chawarma - roasted meat in pita bread.
Kalinti (or karane, karantika) - a quiche-like dish made from chickpea flour and eggs, and sold by the slice.
Kefta - spiced minced lamb or beef rolled into the shape of a sausage or meatballs; can be part of a tagine.
Khlia (or khlii) - strips of seasoned, sun-dried beef preserved in animal fat. Often found in the market piled up in plastic tubs, typically served pan-fried with an egg on top.
Mahlaba - shops selling dairy products, including yoghurt drinks, often with juices and sandwiches.
Maqouda (or maakouda ) - potato fritters.
Mint tea - Moroccan mint tea is actually green tea with mint leaves thrown in at the last minute. The pouring technique is crucial: Moroccan tea pots have long, curved pouring spouts which allow the tea to be poured evenly into tiny glasses from a height, creating bubbles.
Raib - a sweetened yoghurt, similar to a milkshake or India lassi.