Morocco is a unique country - spicy, yet sweet and so is its food. Be prepared for some changes, because Moroccan food isn't what you're used to. It can not be compared to either Chinese or Japanese nor even French. Moroccan food is all about the spices and slow cooking. And here are our top 5 tasty delights you have to try when in Morocco:
Tajine is a whole bunch of layers. It's named after the pot in which is cooked. The cooking process is slow. They start with onions and meat. Then they add the key ingredient – spices (It's a super mix of ginger, paprika, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, saffron and probably they add some secret ingredient). After the spices there comes a layer of vegetables and fruit (carrots, potatoes, olives, lemon, prunes, etc.). As mention before Tajine takes time – slow is good, the tajine is cooked after 2-3 hours and ready to serve (It can be served alone or with couscous).
Pastilla or Bastilla is basically a meat pie usually made from chicken. Sometimes they use pigeon in this pie dish. But let's not get into details. We'll be talking about chicken pie. This traditional Moroccan dish is savory and sweet, made from (hopefully) chicken breasts, onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, saffron, almonds, dried dates, parsley, and lots of olive oil.
If you like soups, this one will blow your mind. Harira is an authentic Moroccan soup usually served on Ramadan. And yes, even McDonald's has their Happy Meal that includes Harira on Ramadan. This hearty soup is made of tomatoes, chickpeas, onions, and coriander. But we have to disappoint all you vegetarians out there – it does include meat. You'll find small amounts of lamb, beef or chicken in this heavenly soup which can be served as a starter or as a snack.
As one of the world's largest exporter of Sardines, Morocco is a place where you have to try their famous spicy fried sardines. They come in numerous variations but are usually filled with coriander cumin, ginger, and red hot chili.
Zaalouk is the famous Moroccan salad. There are million ways to prepare this salad, and the recipe differs from region to region. But usually, it's made with eggplants and tomatoes. And olive oil – lots of olive oil. Did you notice there hasn't been a dish here that didn't involve olive oil or olives in the recipe? That's because olive oil is a jewel in the crown of Moroccan food. Have you ever been to Sicily? Have you tried their olives? Don Altobello said they are the best in the world. Well, I guess he hasn't been to Morocco. Because these olives are out of this world and there's a reason why Moroccans put them in almost every dish they can. The same goes for their olive oil.
This whiskey isn't actually a whiskey, and sorry – it doesn't involve any alcohol whatsoever. Moroccan whiskey is a mint tea. Moroccan Mint tea or Maghrebi Mint Tea can be served at almost every occasion. And when you order their mint tea they will perform a true ceremony. Usually, the head of the family will be the one to serve you their super sweet mint tea as a sign of hospitality. It can be also served as a dessert with nuts or cookies.
Few facts about Morocco
- Morocco is the model for Arab democracy. Women rights and religious freedom is more progressive than in other Arab Countries. It may be very conservative at some points, while Casablanca and Rabat are quite liberal.
- Violent crime in Morocco is rare, but it's wise to be careful about pickpockets in the major cities.
- Days may be warm, but the nights can be pretty cold – especially around Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert.
- When you visit bazaar be prepared to do some haggling – you may not feel like it, but they will be offended if you don't - especially in small villages where tradition is very alive and kickin'.
- If you're gonna do some mosque hopping – ladies need to put something on their head – so just in case always have a scarf with you.
- Morocco will change you. Just ask Keith Richards. Rolling Stones came back from Morocco transformed. Some change was good, some bad, but in the end, they saved the band and that was their final goal.