What Do People From Morocco Eat?

I went to Morocco for about a week in September 2013. I cannot describe all what I saw in one post, but this time I would like to share with you one of the things that I liked the most: food!

So, what do people from Morocco eat? The truth is that they eat nice dishes. Moroccan cuisine has been influenced by several cultures including, but not limited to, Berber, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, African, Portuguese, Spanish, and French gastronomy (1). But I better show you some samples of the great variety that Moroccan cuisine has to offer.

Some descriptions are at the bottom of each picture or set of pictures. Individual pictures can be enlarged if you click on them.

Tajine

El primer platillo que les presento es el pollo al tajín. Tal vez el platillo que más me gustó en Marruecos. El tajín es el contenedor de barro (ver la foto en el lado derecho) que sirve para cocer a fuego lento. Hay varias recetas y con diferentes ingredientes principales (ternera, atún, verduras, etc,), pero lo que a mí me atrajo de este platillo fue el sabor dulce que le acompaña. La versión para endulzar el platillo varía, pueden ser ciruelas pasas, membrillo caramelizado, limones en conserva, chabacano (albaricoque), etc., pero al final dulce y por el cocido lento en este recipiente, la carne queda muy suave. El tajín es muy popular en Marruecos y se venden por todas partes.

The first dish I want to show you is chicken tajine (also spelled tagine). This may be the dish that I liked the most of Moroccan cuisine I tried while I was there.  The term tajine is applied to both, container and dish. The container is made out of clay (see picture at the right side) and it is used as a slow cooker. The dish recipe may vary, main ingredients can be lamb, chicken, tuna fish, vegetables, etc. ; however, the thing that I liked the most is the sweet flavor in it. If you don’t like sweet and salt foods this dish may not like you. The dish can be sweetened with prunes, caramelized quince, preserved lemons, apricots, etc. The meat turn out very soft because of the slow cooking process. Tajine dishes are very popular in Morocco and you can find it everywhere there.

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Fruits

Mi recorrido por las calles en varias ciudades de Marruecos siempre incluyó una abundancia de higos, dátiles y otras frutas.

I always saw many figs, dates and other fruits during mi walks through the streets of different cities in Morocco.

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Las tunas (opuntia) también abundaban.

Prickly pears (opuntia) were also very common.

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Cheese

Algo que disfruté mucho fue comer queso fresco con un pedazo de pan y algo dulce como mermelada.

Something I enjoyed a lot was fresh cheese with a piece of bread and something sweet such as jam.

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Pastries

Éstas son las cosas dulces que comí. Marruecos tiene muy buena repostería influenciada por los franceses y combinada con ingredientes locales y sabores del Medio Oriente. Hojaldres y panes con almendras y rellenos dulces alegran la vista y el paladar. En el centro a la izquierda un paté o pasta untable de dátiles con cacahuates y a la derecha una mermelada de higos. Dulce no me faltó :)

These were some of the desserts I ate. Morocco has good pastry influenced by the French and the Middle Eastern flavors. Pastry with almonds and cinnamon were the ones I saw the most. And about the pictures in the center, the one on the left is a type of paste or pate made with dates and peanuts. The one on the right is fig jam.

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Otro bocadillo interesante fue la pastilla (también conocida como bastila, pastela, etc.). Es un hojaldre relleno de carne de paloma o pollo con cebolla, perejil, almendras, canela y azúcar.  Otra delicia.

Another interesting dish was pastilla (also  bastila, bastela, etc.). It is a squab or chicken meat pie. The meat is mixed with onions, parsley, almonds, cinnamon, and sugar. The wrapping is a thin and crisp layer of dough. Another sweet and salt dish that I like.

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Street Snacks

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También encontré otras cosas inusuales como este puré o masa de garbanzo con condimentos dulces llamado, según el vendedor, caliente. Esto lo vi en Chefchaouen y parecía algo popular.

I also found some other interesting things such as these “mash chickpeas.” The seller told me it was called “caliente” (meaning hot in Spanish). I saw this in Chefchaouen and seemed popular among the locals.

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Y justo al lado del vendedor del puré de garbanzo un puesto de caracoles.

Right next to the “caliente” snack seller there was a stand selling snails.

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Shawarma

Otro platillo popular en el Medio Oriente y que no falta en Marruecos es el shuarma que es como carne al pastor en México, una varilla vertical con pedazos de carne (pollo, cordero, puerco, res, etc.) dando vuelta todo el día para rostizarse en el fuego. Obviamente los sazonadores cambian. Shuarma no sólo define  la preparación de la carne también se usa para hablar del platillo servido que se pone en un pan delgado en forma redonda (como una pita de la gastronomía de la India, Grecia, Turquía y otros) y se dobla como un taco, sandwich o hotdog. En este caso me acordé de los percherones de Hermosillo, Sonora, México.

Another popular influence from the Middle East reaching as far as Morocco is shawarma. Shawarma is applied to both, the name of the dish and the way the meat is prepared. The meat can be from chicken, lamb, pork, etc. and it is placed on a spit to be grilled all day long. This reminded me of tacos al pastor in Mexico (cooked in the same way, but different marinating flavors). Shawarma also means the way the dish is presented, the meat in a flat and round piece of bread (like Indian, Greek, and Turkish pita bread) and folded like a taco, hotdog or sandwich. This also reminded me of percherones (a kind of burrito but larger) in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.

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Bessara

De desayuno probé la bessara que es como una sopa o puré de habas y/o chícharos (guisantes o arvejas) con condimentos y aceite de oliva o argán.  Se acompaña con pan. También una grata experiencia.

In the morning I had bessara, which is a type of thick fava bean and/or green peas soup. It also has some spices and olive or argan oil. It is eaten with bread. Also a pleasant experience :)

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Harira

Hablando de sopas, otro platillo popular en Marruecos es la harira. Esta sopa es un poco más fuerte que la bessara. La harira está hecha principalmente a base de tomate con una variedad de ingredientes según el lugar. Los ingredientes pueden ser garbanzos, lentejas, habas, pasta, etc. y con condimentos como gengibre, paprika, azafrán (turmérico), comino, nuez moscada y otros.

Talking about soups, another popular dish in Morocco is the harira. This soup is stronger than the bessara. The harira is mainly made with tomatoes and a variety of ingredients according to the place. Some ingredients may be chickpeas, lentils, fava beans, pasta, etc. Spices may include ginger, paprika, turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, and others.

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Kefta

También en el mismo restaurante probé el kefta marroquí con huevo. El kefta son albóndigas (bolas de carne) con trozos de cebolla y condimentos. En este caso se acompañan con un huevo y una salsa o puré a base de tomate. Nada mal.

Also in the same restaurant I tried the harira, I had the Moroccan kefta with eggs. The kefta dish consists of meatballs with some onions and spices. In this case it had eggs and a type of tomato sauce. Not bad.

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Moroccan Salad

Una ensalada marroquí. ¿Pueden ver los ingredientes? además de lo que ven estaba acompañada con un toque de limón amarillo.

A Moroccan salad. Can you tell the ingredients? Besides what you can see there was a touch of lemon and salt.

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Couscous

Y para terminar les presento el cuscús marroquí. Un platillo altamente tradicional en la cocina de Marruecos. Está hecho a base de sémola de trigo. Se acompaña con otro ingrediente fuerte como pollo, verduras, cordero, etc. En esta foto yo lo pedí con pollo. Se parece al tajín, pero no lo  es, es el mismo restaurante y la misma ensalada, pero no el mismo platillo.

And to conclude, the Moroccan couscous. A very typical dish in Morocco. It is made from semolina. It is served with another main ingredient such as vegetables, chicken, lamb, etc. In this picture, you can see the chicken version. It looks like tajine, but it is not. Same restaurant and same salad though.

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Sources:

  1. “Moroccan Food.” Ifood.tv. ©2009 FutureToday Inc., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2013. <http://www.ifood.tv/network/moroccan>.
  2. All pictures in this post were taken by Jesús Rosas in September 2013 in different cities of Morocco.