Moroccan cuisine is an incredible melting pot of spices, meats and influences from Arabic and Mediterranean countries. Walking through markets in any Moroccan city you will find a huge array of colorful spices, herbs, street food stalls and aromas that will make you fall in love with Moroccan food.
Most people know Moroccan food for its heavy reliance on delicious spices such as saffron, turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, paprika, ginger and fennel just to name a few! There are also striking similarities with the Mediterranean diet in terms of the meats, fish, fruits and vegetables used in cooking.
Some typical Moroccan dishes are much more well known than others and those are the ones you will very likely recognise. However, we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the lesser known (but outrageously delicious) dishes of Morocco.
So without further ado, here are our 12 best traditional Moroccan dishes to try…
Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup that is made up of tomato, chickpeas, lentils and meat (beef, lamb or chicken). Of course, as with most traditional dishes, there are endless variations on the recipe and the specific ingredients used. It is typically eaten as a starter or a hearty lunch and is most commonly associated with being eaten to break the Ramadan fast.
Harira is a beautifully fragrant soup dish that has warming qualities and typically Arabian flavors from the saffron, turmeric and ginger. It’s most often served with a hard boiled egg to add a cooling, earthy taste. Try this Moroccan Harira recipe for yourself.
I love Mechoui as it’s such a beautiful sharing meal that brings guest together and is perfect for celebrations. Mechoui is a whole lamb that is slowly roasted on a spit over a fire for up to nine hours.
The result of the slow roasting is melt-in-your-mouth meat that just falls off the bone. Simply tear the meat apart and eat it with cumin and salt for the most authentic Moroccan experience. There’s an exquisite lamb mechoui recipe to try here.
Tagine (maraq or marqa)
When people think of Moroccan cuisine, tagine is one of the first dishes that springs to mind. So closely associated is tagine with Morocco that it has become somewhat synonymous with any mention of Moroccan cuisine! In fact, tagine actually gets its name from the clay pot that the dish is cooked in, rather than the food itself.
In a nutshell, tagine is a slow cooked stew of meat, often lamb and chicken with a variety of fresh fruity ingredients such as apples, apricots, pears, raisins, quinces, olives, dates and prunes as well as vegetables. Typical spices include ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, cumin and paprika, and additional flavors such as honey and nuts are also typically added.
Slowly cooking the dish in the earthenware tagine pot causes the flavors to blend together and sleep right through to the meat which falls easily off the bone. The mixture of spices along with the fruit makes the taste so uniquely North African and packs a flavor that is both hearty and fresh. Check out this great recipe for authentic Moroccan lamb tagine.
Stuffed fried sardines are a fantastic Moroccan street food served by vendors at markets and throughout cities such as the capital Marrakesh. Typically sardines were seen as a food of the poor due to the association of fishermen being from less wealthy backgrounds. Of course, Moroccan cuisine not only has many notable Mediterranean influences, it also has a great coastline for fishing!
Stuffed sardines are quite simply made by filling with chermoula paste before covering in flour and frying. You can find a great recipe for stuffed fried sardines here.
Briwat are scrumptiously sweet, stuffed, triangle-shaped pastry turnovers that have been deep-fried. Stuffed with meat and cheese with some simple seasonings, they’re then dipped in warm honey before eating.
Briwat is a family favorite snack which is closely associated with Ramadan and so they are very much held in high esteem in Morocco! As you would expect, there are hundreds of variations on the classic recipe but I particularly like this one as it feels so authentically Moroccan, utilising typical ingredients and spices.
Moroccan Chicken Bastilla
Chicken bastilla a dish usually reserved for special occasions such as weddings and celebrations. Bastilla is essentially a chicken pie cooked with some uniquely Moroccan spices such as saffron and cinnamon.
Chicken is the most common meat used in bastilla, cooked with onions and red pepper, a huge range of herbs and spices, cinnamon toasted almonds, and encased in a delicious phyllo pastry. Of course, it is well loved throughout Morocco but also throughout the rest of the world!
Chicken bastilla is sometimes considered a complicated dish but if you’re up for the challenge, there’s a fabulous recipe here.
Another celebratory dish reserved for special occasions, rfissa is a chicken, onion, vegetable and lentil dish that is served with shredded puff pastry in a soupy broth. A bit like a deconstructed pie except the broth is the real hero of the dish, making it hearty and warming.
Of course, expect to use a huge array of spices or the Moroccan spice blend of ras el hanout. There’s a great recipe for chicken rfissa which you can find here.
Zaalouk (or Zalouk) is a Moroccan cooked salad consisting off eggplant and tomatoes seasoned with a range of traditional spices and garlic. Typically served as a side dish, it is eaten with a big chunk of pita bread or crusty white bread to mop up the delicious sauce.
Zaalouk is then garnished with cilantro and a lemon wedge. If you plan on trying zaalouk I would highly recommend serving as a side to another traditional Moroccan dish as it works very well as a complimentary dish. Check out this great zaalouk recipe for inspiration.
Of course, no list of Moroccan foods would be complete without couscous! It’s almost difficult to write about couscous because it’s such a base level, eponymous ingredient of Moroccan cuisine that you sometimes forget it even originates in North Africa!
If you’re not already aware of couscous, it is a bit like rice but consists of thousands of tiny, steamed balls of wheat. It’s a staple ingredient in much of Northern Africa and is typically served in a stew with vegetables and spices. It can be served as a side dish or a main couscous dish is also quite common such as this one.
Khobz (Pita or Flatbread)
Khubz is a typically Arabic bread that is widely consumed in Morocco and indeed the Middle East and Northern Africa. Whilst not unique to Morocco, it is a popular staple that is a big part of the traditional diet and so it’s important to include!
Khubz has the same traditional bread ingredients of yeast, flour, salt and water but it is cooked to be round with little bubble pockets throughout. Khubz is eaten as a side to pretty much every dish as Moroccan cuisine consists of many stews, broths and delicious sauces.
You can try making your own khubz with this recipe.
Now you might find this one a little bit weird but it’s actually not even unique to Morocco. In Norway they serve their own version of sheep’s head, Smalahove. Of course, the Moroccan steamed sheep’s head is a little different as it has a bit of a spicy kick to it.
The sheep’s head is prepared by steaming and charring the head before serving with vegetables and a spicy sauce. If you happen to be in possession of a sheep’s head and want to create a unique Moroccan dish, you can try this recipe.
Brochettes are essentially lamb or beef skewers that are known in other parts of the world as kebabs. They are a traditional Moroccan street food that you will find absolutely everywhere you visit, but they are are also prepared at home and particularly around special occasions such as Eid al Adha.
Different countries have their styles of cooking kebab skewers but Moroccans use alternating chunks of lamb and beef that is marinated in a spice mix of cumin, cinnamon and cayenne among other spices. Here’s a great brochettes recipe to try yourself.
So there you have it! The most popular authentic Moroccan dishes that you simply must try either at home or by visiting the country yourself!