Tagines, couscous, harira, Gazelle horns… Moroccan cuisine is rich in tastes and flavors!
Rich in flavor and taste and cleverly spiced, Moroccan cuisine is one of the most famous in the world. The diversity of its dishes is only equaled by its influences: Arabic, Berber, Moorish, Jewish, African and even Asian!
Whether they are prepared for celebrations or everyday meals, here are the 16 top Moroccan specialties that will awaken your taste buds!
Probably the most popular dish along with the Tagine, it’s, in any case, the one that comes first to mind when we talk about Moroccan gastronomy. Traditionally served on Fridays at noon, after the dhuhr prayer, it’s now enjoyed indiscriminately every day of the week.
Of Berber origin, the traditional version consists of beef and mutton, sometimes chicken, a multitude of vegetables and legumes (courgettes, turnips, beans, lentils, peas) and of course, wheat semolina. Moroccans eat it directly from the table or serve it on individual plates.
The tagine is a traditional Moroccan dish whose origins are also Berber. It’s said that the best tagines are still enjoyed today in Berber territory! It’s a kind of stew cooked in an ovenproof casserole with a conical cover.
There is an infinite number of tagine recipes, each one more delicious than the next: Chicken tagine with vegetables, saffron or prunes, vegetable tagines with chickpeas, sardine tagines, lamb tagines with onions and chickpeas etc….
Practically a different recipe for any given day of the year!
This is a very special Moroccan tagine recipe, traditionally served during the Eid al-Kebir festival and prepared with lamb, almonds, raisins, honey and cinnamon, all subtly balanced by the Ras El Hanout blend.
The dish is prepared days before the festival, the meat has to be cooked for long hours to be easily removed. In the traditional recipe, kidney fat was added to form a protective film, which allowed the dish to be preserved at a time when there was no refrigerator.
The third great Moroccan specialty, pastilla comes from Fez. The traditional version is made from pigeon, but there are still several variants.
Served at parties and other events, it can be sweet or salty, the latter being the most common version. It’s a puff pastry cake, made with pastry sheets and stuffed with minced pigeon or chicken, before being sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
There are also fish pastillas and seafood pastillas, while Johara, the pastilla from Fez, is a sweet preparation in which the pastry sheets are filled with a creamy milk and cornstarch mixture.
5. The Moroccan Tanjia
Tanjia is a typical dish from Marrakech: going there without tasting this emblematic dish would be a heresy.
Two stories are told about its origin. The most popular one is that it was created by workers who, not having time to go home to eat, took all the ingredients they could find, meat, spices, vegetables, put them in a jar and then let them heat it up overnight in the nearby hammam.
Today, it’s a dish of meat and spices cooked for long hours in a terracotta jar and served in many Moroccan restaurants.
6. The Mechoui
A meat-based dish, mechoui is more a cooking method than a particular recipe. Of Arab origin, it’s a popular dish, served mainly at weddings or special occasions.
The particularity of the Moroccan mechoui is that the lamb or sheep is cooked, not on a roasting spit, but stewed, in an oven built into the ground, during many hours. Pieces are then detached by hand, and distinguished guests are traditionally served first.
Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup, not always easily digestible and with questionable nutritional properties, but nevertheless always appreciated by Moroccans to break the Ramadan fast.
Of Andalusian origin, it’s made up of tomatoes, meat, onions and dried vegetables. Harira is served with hard-boiled eggs, honey pancakes or Moroccan pastries.
Briouate, or briwate, is a puff pastry triangle that can be both sweet and salty. Originally from Fez, its most common version consists of almonds, sugar, orange blossom water and cinnamon, all wrapped in a Moroccan Bastilla sheet. Seafood Briouates are also very popular.
There are other recipes where the triangles are stuffed with minced meat, chicken, cheese, or vegetables.
9. Moroccan Salads
During a traditional Moroccan meal, many salads are served before or during the meal, hot or cold. Whether simple or complex, they all bring a touch of freshness and allow Moroccans to consume a lot of vegetables.
Tomatoes with cucumbers, carrots with cumin, eggplant Zaalouk, zucchini with hazelnuts, mushrooms with celery, lentils with orange… once again, the possibilities are endless!
Morocco is one of the world’s largest producers of dates.
Particularly consumed during the fasting months, the dates are rich in vitamins and mineral salts. In some areas, it’s used to restore women’s strength after childbirth. Moroccans are generally fond of it, with a consumption of 150,000 tons per year.
They are found in many dishes, including the famous Maamouls cakes, filled with date paste.
11. Gazelle horns
Now on the way to the infinite and colorful world of Moroccan pastries!
One of the most famous of these is probably the gazelle horn. Made from crushed almonds coated with a fine shortbread paste flavored with orange blossom water, it’s a perfect match for the mint tea ritual.
Chebakia is, with the almond briouate, the flagship pastry of Ramadan.
The dough, made with wheat flour, eggs, orange blossom water, aniseed and almond, is fried in vegetable oil, then covered with honey and sesame seeds. It’s also one of the cheapest and most popular pastries in Morocco.
Ghribia, or ghoriba, is a traditional Moroccan pastry with a recipe inspired by the mantecados, an Andalusian cake made from pork fat. The Moroccan ghribia does not include it, of course, it has been replaced by vegetable oil, and it’s now a cake that is served during engagements, weddings or family celebrations.
Orange is an essential element of Moroccan cuisine. It’s served in all kinds of sauces, sweet or salty. It’s also found in the form of salads, served at the end of a meal.
The oranges are mixed with sugar, cinnamon, orange blossom water and a few mints leaves and are a refreshing dessert after all the dishes we have just listed.
For instance, the Moroccan orange blossom salad with cinnamon is a simple but refined salad. It’s a great dessert to finish a hearty meal on a fresh note. You can serve it with mint tea and Moroccan pastries. Yummy!
Finally, the orange juices found in Marrakech’s markets or in Jemaa El Fnaa Square are absolutely delicious.
Khobz is the Moroccan bread, and it’s a staple of the local diet.
16. Sardines with chermoula
Sardines with chermoula is a traditional Moroccan dish very well known. Chermoula is a marinade made with parsley, coriander, garlic and lots of spices that are used a lot in Moroccan cuisine.
17. Amlou, Berber spread
Amlou, a Berber spread, is a delicious blend of almonds, honey and argan oil. It’s an ultra-healthy and nutritious treat that might become an addiction. It was nicknamed the Moroccan Nutella, but it’s much better and healthier in fact.
Amlou is a refined dish originating from the Imazighen people of the southern region of Morocco that the Chleuhs (Berbers) are used to eating.
It is a delicious blend of roasted almonds, natural honey, argan oil that has a texture similar to peanut butter or praline paste.
Traditionally, Amlou is served at breakfast or tea time in the afternoon to spread on fresh homemade bread, Baghrir, Msemen, Bouchiar or Mkhanfar pancakes, it also goes well with all kinds of pastries.
Amlou, the Berber spread is a healthy ally par excellence, it is a real energy bomb rich in vitamins E, antioxidants, omega 9 and 6 and proteins because of its pure orange tree honey which has a host of benefits and curative properties. But also, for its perfectly roasted almonds that enclose incredible nutritional virtues.
Finally, argan oil, rich in antioxidants, stabilizes hypercholesterolemia, stimulates brain cells and promotes the proper functioning of the liver. It also reduces the risk of high blood pressure. Argan oil contains twice as much vitamin E than olive oil.
18. Bouchiar ultra soft Berber cake
Bouchiar, Chiarبوشيار is an Amazigh culinary term used in the Moroccan Atlas that refers to a thin cake.
This ultra-soft and light Berber bread is something halfway between Msemen (Melloui) and Moroccan Batbout, apparently it is also a variant of Algerian bread Khobz, prepared with a mixture of wheat flour and extra fine wheat semolina, baker’s yeast and water, soaked in oil and semolina and then cooked in a hot pan.
The version I suggest also contains an egg and a little baking powder in the composition of the dough to give it a spongy and melting feel that is very pleasant to taste. However, you can prepare it without it and it will not change much!
I love this hot cake soaked in butter and honey, it’s the ultimate treat for gourmet taste buds thirsty for delicious traditional dishes!
Bouchiar is excellent for the month of Ramadan when fasting ends or for Shour (the last meal before dawn) accompanied by mint tea or coffee with milk it is a delight! Due to its ease, simplicity and fast preparation it is super good and addictive, beware to those on a diet!
19. Mkhanfar extra soft Berber pancake
Mkhanfar (مخنفر), L’Mkhanfar (لمخنفر) or Khobz almawi (خبز الماوي) different names that designate an ultra-soft, spongy and fluffy thick pancake halfway between Baghrir (thousand holes) and Sfenj (fritter), prepared with a mixture of wheat flour and extra fine wheat semolina, baker’s yeast, baking powder, baking powder, egg and water, cooked in a hot frying pan with very little oil, which gives it the unique taste of Sfenj without being greasy and a very melting and aerated texture of Baghrir.
Mkhanfar is prepared in no time at all, in 10 minutes the dough is ready, the preparation is done in a blender, if you don’t have one you can use a hand blender or an electric mixer, a hand whisk or if you are brave by hand it takes a little longer, but it is nice to be able to feel the texture of the dough like our mothers and grandmothers used to do!
The dough must rest for about thirty minutes and then we move on to the baking, which is also very fast. In a short time, we will have a gourmet snack or breakfast to offer.
20. Msemen puff pastry pancake
Named Msemen, Msemmen, Rghaif or Meloui, these delicious Berber puff pastry pancakes are very popular in the Maghreb, and we love to taste them topped with honey with orange blossom around a round table by drinking a good atay mchahar (mint tea) either for breakfast, as a snack or for ending the fast during the sacred month of Ramadan with a good Harira and honey dates to replace the bread!
Baghrir (بـغـريـر), an Arab-Berber term used in the Maghreb, is a pancake made with semolina, flour, yeast and salt, served hot and soaked in butter and honey. It is also known as edarnan or tiγrifin in Berber, or a thousand holes.
Light and spongy pancakes, baghrirs are cooked on only one side; when cooked, many small cavities of one or two millimeters appear on the top.
22. Snail soup
In Morocco, they are called Bobbouche or ghlala. Snails are eaten in a brown and powerful broth with plants, very beneficial for stomach aches, and a real pleasure for most Moroccans.
Moroccan Zaalouk is a traditional specialty that is also found in other Maghreb countries. This excellent aubergine caviar with tomato is one of the most popular salad recipes that we like to share with family and friends during the Ramadan period. There are many ways to prepare Zaalouk in Morocco and Algeria depending on the region or family tradition.
24. Tagine Kefta with eggs
In Morocco, this dish is popular because it is simple and economical.
We like to taste it with good homemade bread.
Here is an essential appetizer of the month of Ramadhan, the maâkouda, with which we accompany the Harira or Shorba.
Maakouda is a potato cake or croquette. The potatoes are boiled before being pureed and then garlic, parsley, spices and an egg are added to the puree.
A traditional Moroccan dish that is prepared for special occasions and especially on the 3rd or 7th day after the day of birth.
This dish requires a long preparation process. First, we make the Trid (very thin msemen), then cut them into strips and drizzle them with a particularly tasty chicken sauce, topped with lentils, fenugreek and many other spices.
Chaaria (Moroccan recipe) or pasta vermicelli, raisin-based sauce and sliced almonds
Here is an excellent sweet and salty vegan recipe!
Usually, noodles in the shape of vermicelli are used to make soups. Here, it’s very different: the pasta is melting but must remain firm, al dente.
In Morocco, it is a very popular holiday recipe when you receive guests.
Saikouk or Sekouk is a couscous (Seksu or Kesksu) made with barley semolina and buttermilk or whey (Arabic ben, ighi berber), a delicious dish of Moroccan cuisine that can be enjoyed warm or cold, it can be purchased on the markets in the medinas in Morocco.
A dish of barley semolina steamed in a couscous dish then topped with a fatty substance (butter, olive oil), and simply salted. Then drizzled with cold ben (buttermilk) it can be sweetened if desired.
Taktouka (or tchakchouka, tetzouka) is a traditional Moroccan salad made up of a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, onions and olive oil.
Taktouka is a salad that can be eaten fresh or reheated according to taste. It is a mixture of a variety of vegetables that can be different according to the Moroccan regions. Some use tomatoes, roasted peppers and paprika while others add onions and eggs. Tomatoes are pureed while peppers are cut into small pieces. This salad can be enjoyed at any time of the year. It is often served with traditional Moroccan dishes such as tagines since it is an equally traditional salad.
29. Moroccan style lenses
A very popular recipe in Morocco. Prepared especially in winter, lentils are highly appreciated not only for their taste but also for their nutritional value.
Rich in iron, vitamins, calcium and magnesium, lentils provide tone and energy.
Loubia, or Moroccan-style white beans, is a hearty, comforting and warming dish to serve with grilled meat or skewers.
Hargma or veal feet with chickpeas and raisins is a typical Moroccan dish, very gourmet, generally prepared for special occasions or during periods of extreme cold.
Originally, this recipe was prepared by Moroccan Jewish families, who served it with hard-boiled eggs. Over time, the recipe has become more or less elaborated, and today we are used to preparing it with chickpeas and raisins or with crushed wheat or rice.
Each region of Morocco brings its own grain of salt.
The Gombos tagine “Mloukhia” is widely consumed in Moroccan cuisine. This vegetable goes well with other vegetables such as red pepper (the case of our recipe) and round zucchini.
It is a very low-calorie vegetable, rich in vitamins and micronutrients. Its high mucilage content (a kind of gelatin that forms in some foods when their carbohydrates swell with water) is especially useful for natural slimming diets. Its consumption is also beneficial to people suffering from stomach aches.
33. Kebda Mchermla
Kebda Mchermla (lamb liver in tomato sauce) is a festive dish that is usually prepared during the Alkabir aid or in the month of Ramadan either with a chermoula or skewer (Malfouf or boulafef, liver in strainer) a delicious starter for giblet lovers, this may not sound good to you but believe me, when it is well prepared it is divine.
34. Khliî Omelette
Khliî is dried meat preserved in fat, this meat can be of sheep, beef or camel.
It is cut into strips or pieces, then put in a mixture of spices and herbs for marinating time ranging from one night to one week.
Dried in the sun, it is then preserved in the animal’s fat for a few hours and then preserved in the same cooking fat.
It is a rather long and tedious process that allows the meat to be preserved without any health risk.
This North African specialty is very old. I will tell you about Khliî according to Moroccan gastronomy because it is the one I have known best since my childhood.
Although it is very old as a method of conservation, this specialty still persists in the Moroccan culinary heritage. Most homes prepare Khliî for sheep festivities, weddings and as soon as an animal is slaughtered for a special occasion.
They are easily found in stores or at the local grocery store. Khliî is present in almost all homes and is common to all regions of the country.
Khliî differs from Gheddid in the cooking process, Gheddid is also a salted and dried meat that has a smoked taste but has not been cooked or preserved in fat, so it must be cooked before being prepared.
It is just dried in the sun for a few weeks and then kept dry.
Khliî is usually eaten in an omelette for breakfast, with just eggs and sometimes onions and tomatoes. It is also used in the preparation of various dishes such as lentils (small salted), white beans (cassoulet), chickpeas, couscous or soups as well as stuffed puff pastries.
A bowl of hearty fava bean soup called Bissara is the popular workers’ breakfast.
You can sprinkle some cumin and chili on it. Yummy!
36. Mint tea
How could we talk about Moroccan specialties without mentioning traditional mint tea?
A perfect ending to a good Moroccan meal, it’s also the drink of hospitality, one of those that cannot be refused. Made from Chinese green tea, sugar and mint, its preparation is traditionally the responsibility of the head of the family.
In some regions, ingredients such as sage, verbena, cinnamon or orange blossom water may be added. It goes perfectly with Moroccan pastries but can also be enjoyed at any time of the day.