From the indigenous, rural Berber people come the basics of Moroccan cuisine, such as couscous, but Moroccan food owes much to influences from its neighbours. In the 1600s the Arabs introduced bread, pulses and spices, notably chickpeas, cinnamon, ginger, saffron and turmeric, from their empire in the East. In the 11th century Bedouin tribes brought dates and milk from their wandering flocks. The Arabs returned from Andalucia (Southern Spain) with produce such as olives and lemons, and later tomatoes and peppers from the Americas.
If you’re traveling on a road trip through Morocco you’ll find plenty of opportunities to sample through the country’s regional specialties: from popular barbecue street foods kebab and kofta, to fine wine, and sumptuously spiced spreads at ornately decorated dining rooms at luxury hotels.
Here Are 15 Must Try Tastes in Morocco
Hariria is a dish traditionally served at sunset during Ramadan, in order to break the fast. The tomato-based soup is typically flavoured with lentils, chickpeas, onions, fresh herbs, saffron, ginger, olive oil and beef. It is often served alongside wedges of lemon, dates and traditional honey sweets.
Briwat are deep-fried stuffed turnovers made with dough as thin as phyllo pastry called warka. The tiny triangular packages are filled with meat (mostly chicken or lamb) and mixed with cheese, lemon, and pepper. They’re an addictive appetizer, reminiscent of spring rolls and samosas.
Couscous is the Moroccan national dish – a semolina-based grain served with an accompanying stew. You can typically order couscous as vegetarian (decorated with carrot, zucchini, pumpkin and cabbage), or topped with chicken, beef, or roast lamb.
Tagine, a slow cooked stew, is named for the earthenware dish with a conical lid in which it is cooked. Any visitor to Morocco will find themselves likely feating on tagine on the daily, and it’s remarkable to see how versatile the dish can be based on each chefs preference and technique. Pictured here is a chicken tagine muddled with preserved lemon and olives but we also encountered other sublime variations which included a perfectly cooked beef steak topped with prunes and pear.
Pastilla are Morocco’s iconic sweets. If you’re visiting Casablanca be sure to pop by the city’s wildly popular Chez Bennis which has been preparing the petite treats as a family for four generations. Morocco’s most famous pastry is the cornes de gazelle (gazelle’s horns), a crunchy cookie filled with sweet almond paste.
Wine has been produced in Morocco since Roman times, and local wine production was encouraged during the Protectorate. The country has three major wine-producing areas: around Oujda, in the northeast, in the Fes and Meknes area, and in the west, between Rabat and Casablanca. The most popular wines include red and white Medallion, red, white and rose Siroua. If you’re driving from Casablanca to Rabat take a quick detour to enjoy a wine-sloshed lunch at Le Ryad des Vignes, which is situated in a gorgeous tropical garden.
Casablanca Beer is Morocco’s national brew produced by Brasseries Du Maroc (owned by Heineken). The pale lager pours a golden straw colour and pairs well with Moroccan kebab and kefta.
All over Morocco, from the sophisticated town house to the simple nomad’s tent, green mint tea has become the national drink. The bitter libation, which is made with varying amounts of sugar, mint, and Chinese green tea is a symbol of hospitality. The tea ceremony is almost always performed in front of guests, served in small, slender glasses decorated with a gold or coloured filigree pattern.
Traditionally made with squab or pigeon, the Moroccan dish b’stilla is a spiced, savoury and slightly sweet meat pie, layered with exotic flavours, encased in tender phyllo and baked to golden, buttery perfection. This dish is usually reserved for special occasions due to its labor-intensive preparation, which includes proudly spreading a dusting of almond sugar and cinnamon between each layer of savoury chicken.
The most popular grab and go street food in Morocco can be found simply by following your nose. Head to each butcher and you’ll typically find barbecue joints that offer up kebabs (chunks of marinated meat) and kefta (herb and spice minced beef) served on skewers alongside a simple and fresh tomato, lettuce and onion salad.
Morocco has long coasts on the Atlantic and Mediterranean, which provide a wide variety of seafood. Fish such as bream and sea bass (pictured here) are typically marinated in a garlicky, spicy mixture called chermoula. Prawns, squid, lobster, oysters and mussels are also available and good quality.
Olives are Morocco’s most iconic snack and you’ll find shopkeepers in every market in the country specializing in the pretty plump treats. Most olive stalls also sell pickled cucumbers and preserved lemons.
You’ll find Muhalbiyah on every dessert menu in Morocco. The soft milk pudding is flavoured with perfumed rosewater and often topped with honey, shredded coconut and walnuts or pistachios.
Similar in flavour to Muhalbiyah, Jawhara incorporates Morocco’s love for rosewater pudding and nuts with layers of crunchy phyllo and cinnamon.