Moroccan Cuisine

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One of the great cuisines of the world, Moroccan cooking abounds with subtle spices and intriguing flavour combinations. Think tart green olives paired with chopped preserved lemon rind stirred into a tagine of tender chicken, the surprise of rich pigeon meat pie dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar, or sardines coated with a flavourful combination of coriander, parsley, cumin and a hint of chilli. Influenced by Andalusian Spain, Arabia and France, Morocco’s cuisine is a delicious combination of mouthwatering flavours that make it unique. If you’re heading to Morocco for vacation or business, know that you’re in for a gastronomical treat. The food of Morocco ranks high on lists of the world’s best cuisines and is well worth exploring. You won’t be disappointed with the incredible variety and innovative ingredient combinations that await you.

Couscous…

Couscous is prepared weekly in many Moroccan homes and the presentation pictured here, couscous with seven vegetables, is one of the most popular versions. Lamb, beef or chicken is stewed along with a variety of vegetables then arranged on a glorious heap of tender, steamed couscous grains. As with many other Moroccan dishes, everyone gathers round to eat from one super-sized communal plate.

Bastilla…

Chicken bastilla is Morocco’s famous rendition of a savory pie, and it simply doesn’t get better than this. Traditionally pigeons were the birds of choice, but here chicken is cooked with saffron, ginger, pepper and cinnamon, then layered within crispy warqa pastry with an herb-laden omelet and and almonds scented with orange flower water. It’s an utterly amazing fusion of flavors and textures.

Makouda…

Moroccan street food is legendary and the best place to sample the wide variety is Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech. Here beside the kebabs, calamari and grilled sardines, you will find the more unusual sweet cheek meat of sheep’s heads, snails cooked in a spicy broth that wards off colds, and skewers of lamb’s liver with caul fat. Makouda are little deep-fried potato balls, delicious dipped into spicy harissa sauce.

Mint tea…

Mint tea is the drink of choice. It is usually heavily sweetened with sugar chipped off a sugar cone. Gunpowder tea is steeped with a few sprigs of spearmint stuffed into the teapot. It is poured into a tea glass from a height to create a froth called the crown.

Rfissa…

There may be nothing elegant about pouring hot meat and broth over a plateful of bread, yet around the world such humble fare is regarded as savory, satisfying comfort food at its best. In Morocco it takes the form of Rfissa, a spectacular presentation of stewed chicken and lentils fragrantly seasoned with fenugreek, saffron and Ras el Hanout. The dish is famously served to new mothers, but it’s also a popular specialty dish to offer to family or guests.

Mechoui…

Moroccan roasted lamb, referred to as mechoui, is perhaps best sampled in Marrakesh, where whole lamb is roasted in deep pits with smoldering araar wood. But worry not; you need not dig a hole in your backyard if you want to try roasted lamb at home. Instead, try this Moroccan mechoui recipe which calls only for a leg or shoulder.

Fresh Seafood…

Morocco’s position by the coast means there are lots of fresh fish. Sardines represent more than 62% of the Moroccan fish catch, but anchovies, prawns and mackerel are also common at the fish markets and on the menu cards. The best place to get fresh fish is by the coast, like in Agadir and Essaouira.

Zaalouk…

Moroccan meals are very much communal affairs that open with a dazzling array of salads, dips and breads; look out for zaalouk, an irresistibly smoky aubergine puree seasoned with garlic, paprika, cumin and a little chilli powder. Equally distinctive is b’sara, a broad-bean purée with cumin, olive oil and a pinch of paprika. Both are perfect slathered on fresh-from-the-oven khubz (flatbread).

Baklava…

Moroccan style baklava is usually made with almonds, the nut ingenious to the country. They are used to prepare a nutty filling that is placed between layers of very thin pastry. The sweet-and-sticky syrup is flavored with orange flower water.

Shish Kebab…

The tasty Moroccan kebabs, also known as brochettes, are found on almost every street corner. The chicken, lamb, or beef kebabs are rubbed in salt and spices, and then grilled over charcoal fire.

Published in Melange Intl. Magazine in November 2018.

 

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