Moroccan food is known all over the world for its unique and interesting flavors and varieties. The beauty of food in Morocco goes back to its history and culture. Being an extremely old and diverse nation, their food is expressed through centuries of cultural and religious influences. Also, the geographical location of Morocco, being on the border of Europe and Africa and the gateway to the Mediterranean.
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What is special about Moroccan food?
I’ve been eating Moroccan food almost my whole life and I have never thought of it as special and unique until I left Morocco to live abroad. Moroccan food is a mixture of all-natural ingredients. It includes a variety of vegetables, legumes, exotic spices, and of course meat.
While vegetables are important in many dishes such as couscous and tagine, meat, bread, and tea are an integral part of Moroccan cuisine and culture. No religious and social celebrations can be complete without these 3 main ingredients.
Another important part of Moroccan cuisine is the Tagine (The pot). Tagine is a clay pot used to cook the famous Tagine (The dish) and sometimes to just serve the dishes. So, don’t be surprised if everything comes in a clay pot. Moroccans love their Tagine.
Commonly used ingredients in Moroccan food include olive oil, garlic, ginger, tumeric, and a lot of herbs.
Now let’s get down to the list of the most amazing Moroccan dishes. Some of these happen to be my personal favorites.
The best dishes in Moroccan cuisine
This section is divided into main dishes or courses, starters, pastry and sweets and finally drinks. You can click and jump straight to a section or just read through the whole post to not miss a single dish.
Main food and dishes in Morocco
Couscous ‘Seksu’ is the national dish of Morocco. Every Friday after Jumuaa prayers, Moroccans around the world gather around a large clay plate to feast on the traditional Moroccan Couscous. Originally a Berber dish, the Moroccan couscous is basically a steamed wheat grain (sometimes semolina grains) topped with 7 different veggies and meat or chicken previously cooked in a super tasty broth.
The two-part pot is used to cook this special dish where the bottom part serves to slowly cook the meat and veggies while the top part is where the grains are getting steamed.
The couscous is usually served with Leben, a famous Berber drink that is made by letting milk ferment for a few hours and then shaking it until you get a sour delicious drink.
#2 Tagine or Tajine
Tagine is an age-old Moroccan Amazigh tradition of cooking food with a unique dome-shaped clay pot. The dish was named after the pot. This world-famous food can be made with chicken or meat or vegetables only if requested but not common for Moroccans since they LOVE their meat :P.
The Tagine is made by cooking the meat in a mix of exotic spices, onions, and then top it up with either vegetables, green olives, or nuts. What I like about the Moroccan Tagine is the beautiful presentation and that it is always served with bread (Khobz). I looove Khobzzzz!
My favorite food in Morocco is this one. Rfissa is a very popular dish in Morocco during celebrations. Rfissa is traditionally made with Msemen pastry bread, chicken, lentil, and chicken broth. Rfissa is a Moroccan savory dish that cannot be served without its two main ingredients, the Fenugreek spice and Ras El Hanout blend of spices. It is cooked with them and added on the side when serving for whoever wants more!
In addition to the mouthwatering taste, Rfissa is known to be good for health especially for women recovering from childbirth and that’s why Rfissa is present in every newborn party in Morocco (S’boua)! Don’t miss the opportunity to attend one of these to taste Rfissa.
#4 Chicken With Preserved Lemon and Olives (Djaj Mhemer)
Chicken with preserved lemon and olives is another dish that Moroccans like to serve on occasions. It can be served in a Tagine or in a beautifully decorated plate. As the name speaks for the dish, it is made with chicken slowly cooked with spices, garlic, onions and flavored with homemade preserved lemon and green olives.
Sometimes, the chicken can be cooked with the spices, then roasted or fried to get that dark brown color before serving it with lemon and olives. The dish is served with Moroccan bread.
#5 Lamb or Beef With Prunes (Lhem B brkoko)
Slowly cooked on a coal fire, that’s how Moroccans serve you the most tender and jaw-dropping meat dish. The meat is cooked with garlic, saffron, ginger, onions, and species then topped with syrup cooked prunes, and finally decorated with fried almonds.
Lamb or beef tagines with prunes are the best food you can try in the bustling restaurants in Morocco. However, this recipe is quite easy to try at home, and you don’t need a special pot. A conventional pot can do just fine.
#6 Meatball Tagine (Kefta Tajine)
Meatball (Kefta) with eggs or tagine is a heavenly delicious meal that you can have at lunch or even for breakfast if you are so hungry. The mince-meat is seasoned with a lot of cumin, paprika, and herbs before being shaped into small balls and cooked slowly in a tomato sauce. The last 10 minutes is when the egg mix is poured to add a fabulous touch and taste to the boring meatballs.
The meatball and egg dish is light, delicious, and filling when eaten the traditional Moroccan way, with bread. It’s a must-try food when you visit Morocco.
#7 Fish Tagine (Tajine Hout)
Can I have a fish Tagine? Yup, you can! Moroccans are so creative with their Tagine dish recipes. They can make a tagine out of everything, even fish. You can have Sardine meatballs Tagine or a whole fish Tagine. I like the sardine meatballs more, so if you love fish, try it on your next trip to Morocco. The picture below is an example of a fish and vegetable tagine cooked and served on a traditional plate.
#8 Moroccan roasted lamb (Mechoui)
Lamb Mechoui is one of the amazing foods you can try in Morocco especially in Marrakech. It is also a unique and crazy experience seeing how it is cooked. Usually, the Mechoui is made by wrapping a whole sheep like a popsicle and cooking in a very hot and big pit whole where they can cook like five sheep at a time (Wow!)
The result is insane, a jaw-dropping saucy and tender meat. And you can choose your cut from wherever you want, a leg, a shoulder the choice is all yours.
#9 Grilled Liver (Boulfaf)
Eid Al Adha in Morocco wouldn’t be complete without Boulfaf. Boulfaf is a grilled lamb liver, heart, and kidneys. After the meat pieces are nicely grilled on a coal fire, they are cut into small cubes and then wrapped in pieces of fat and put again on fire for a few minutes and finally seasoned with salt and pepper and served.
#10 Khlii (khlea) with eggs
We know eggs but what is Khlii? Khlii is a kind of dried and preserved meat or let’s say a type of jerky in Moroccan cuisine. Traditionally it’s made by marinating beef meat in lots of spices and garlic. The meat is then sundried and finally preserved in fat. Sounds unhealthy right? WHO CARES!!! You should definitely try the Khlii and eggs dish for breakfast when visiting Morocco. The Khlii meat is first sauteed for a few minutes then the eggs are added et voila Besehha as Moroccans say! On a serious note, khlii is not consumed in large quantities.
#11 Steamed sheep head (Lhem Rass)
The sheep head is cleaned and steamed and cut into pieces then seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin. This food is made every Eid Al Adha but in Marrakech, you can purchase a whole head or even half and enjoy the soft and tender meat. My favorite part of the sheep’s head is the super-soft cheek meat. You can either have it with bread or plain.
#12 Tangia or Tanjia
If there is one food you shouldn’t miss in Morocco, it is Tangia. The Marrakechi special dish can be hard to find outside Marrakech and even if you do find it, I believe it won’t taste the same way. Tangia is not to be confused with Tajine. It’s totally different. Tangia is traditionally a few chunks of lamb meat cooked in a jar-like clay pot.
The meat is seasoned with various ingredients including herbs, spices, garlic, saffron, cumin, turmeric, and lastly smen (A homemade salty butter).
Starters and Soups
#13 Chicken or seafood pie (Pastilla/Bstila)
Patilla refers to a different type of food in Russia and the Philippines but in Morocco, Pastilla also spelled Bastilla means something very yummy, a crispy dough pie with meat filling. The Moroccan Pastilla has an unusual mixture of sweetness and salt that will wake up your taste buds for sure.
In Morocco, there are two main versions of pastilla, one with poultry and one with seafood. Pastilla is generally served as a starter of special meals and occasions including wedding celebrations.
#14 Tomato & lentils Soup (Harira/H’rira)
Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup made of tomato sauce, onions, lentils, chickpeas, spices, and a lot of fresh coriander and parsley. Harira is a Ramdan special in Morocco. We cannot have our Ramadan Iftar (breakfast) without a bowl of Harira or two. Don’t worry! Harira is made and served even out of Ramadan in restaurants and cafes in Morocco.
The savory soup is even better when enjoyed with a sparkle of sweetness like Chebbakia or dates. Chebbakia is also a Ramadan sweet pastry.
For decades, cooked lentils have served as a budget-friendly food for Moroccans but now it’s an irreplaceable part of Moroccan cuisine.
#15 Bissara soup
While Harira stands out from the crowd for being a very famous soup in Morocco, Bissara deserves a mention for being a very much loved heavy fava bean dip during the cold months. Bissara is made of pureed broad beans flavored with mainly olive oil, lemon juice, and lots of cumin. Bissara is commonly served for breakfast.
Zaalouk is a Moroccan salad of cooked eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. The eggplant and peppers are first grilled, peeled, and then mixed with the tomatoes and sauteed in olive oil, garlic, and spices. Zaalouk is a great Moroccan starter that goes with meat dishes like Lamb and chicken Tagine.
The salad is served cold on small plates around the main dish and eaten ideally with Moroccan bread. If this sounds delicious to you, worry not! because you won’t need to book a flight to taste Zaalouk, it is an easy recipe that you can make at home in 15 minutes. Try it!
#17 Potato Fritters (Makouda)
Maakouda refers to a Moroccan appetizer dish. It is traditionally prepared with mashed or grated potatoes, seasoned with sauteed onions, garlic, salt, cumin, and turmeric for the yellow color. There is also a version where tuna, meat, or cheese is added. Then the fun part, this potatoe mix is rolled into circle-shaped cakes and fried. Maakouda is also a famous street food in Morocco that might be eaten plain or in a sandwich.
#18 Lentils soup or dip (A’dess)
Lentils in Morocco are usually served as a side dish or as a starter. They are cooked with onions, tomatoes, garlic with added spices like pepper, salt, turmeric, and cumin. The lentil soup in Morocco is a staple food that can be vegetarian or with meat.
#19 White beans (Loubia)
Loubia is made with white beans. They are soaked overnight then cooked with onions, tomatoes, a lot of herbs, and spices (salt, pepper, and turmeric). It is also common to add meat or chicken.
Best sweets and pastry to try in Morocco
The rose-shaped sweet pastry is a Ramadan must in Morocco. It goes so well with Harira soup. Chebbakia is made of a special Chebbakia dough and rolled to get the unique shape and then deep-fried until golden, and finally dipped in a homemade Chebbakia syrup and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
#21 Sellou/ Sfouf
Sellou, also called Sfouf is a rich dessert or a snack that goes with tea or Moroccan spiced coffee. Sellou is a mix of ground-fried almonds, ground-toasted sesame seeds, browned flour, and flavored with cinnamon powder, anise powder, and honey or sugar. The nutty ground is then mixed with melted butter or heated olive oil.
#22 Kab El Ghzal (Gazelle Horns cookies)
Kab El Ghzal is a crescent shaped cookie. The cookies are made by stuffing almond paste into a delicate pastery. The cookie is shaped like a crecent and baked in the oven. The almond paste is flavored with rose or orange flower water and cinammon which gives the cookies a unique taste. Kab El Ghzal is usually made on special occasions only such as wedding, baby showers but easily found in restaurants and bakeries.
Best drinks to have in Morocco
A unique tea that combines fresh mint and natural gunpoweder green tea. The process of making it is awsome but the taste is another story!
You won’t be able to find your good morning cup of coffee in Morocco but I’m quite sure there are other good Moroccan alternatives. Nous-Nous coffee is one of them. We wrote a whole post about coffee in Morocco check it out.
Leben is homemade fermented milk. The process of making Leben in Morocco is quite long and hard as it takes up to 2 days to get through the whole process of fermenting, shaking, and finally removing the butter. However, the result is very delicious. You can buy Leben from Supermarkets in Morocco but the homemade one is the best you can have.
#26 Fresh sugarcane juice
My husband and I love freshly made sugarcane juice. The juice is usually made and sold in the streets. A full cup of sugarcane will cost you 10Dh max. In case you don’t know what this drink is, sugarcane juice is extracted from peeled sugar cane sticks by crushing them in a machine. We also like adding the optional fresh ginger. A great kick to the sweet juice. Amazing!!!
There is more Moroccan food to try!
#27 Snails soup (Babbouche)
Snails soup and Ras El Hanout are a combination of spicy distinctive flavors. The main ingredient of the soup is of course the snails. They are cooked in a broth with a mix of spices and herbs called Ras El Hanout that includes thyme, aniseed, Arabic gum, mint, caraway, and many more. The rich dish is known to be very good for health to what it contains. The snail’s soup is generally a Moroccan street food that can be also prepared at home.
Moroccan Briouats are sweet or savory stuffing wrapped in filo dough. Briouats are usually fried but they can be also baked in the oven. The stuffing can be made of meat both chicken and beef or simply cheese and vegetables. Briouats in Morocco are served as a starter and they are an integral part of the Ramadan menu.
#29 Sheep’s Brain
We mentioned the sheep’s head meat, right? So the brain doesn’t go to waste, they also cook it. And you know what, it’s crazy delicious if you can handle the zesty texture. This food can be found in Jama El fna in Marrakech.
#30 Moroccan Doughnuts (Sfenj)
Sfenj is a type of doughnuts in Morocco. Sfenj is usually cooked and sold by street vendors only as it is hard to make at home. The sfenj is made with a very sticky sour dough and shaped into rings before deep friying it in sunflower oil. The traditional Moroccan doughnuts are crispy from the outside and fluffy from the inside. Sfenj goes very well with Moroccan mint tea.
#31 Bread (Khobz)
Moroccan cuisine has different types of bread. But the one I’m referring to here is the typical Moroccan Khobz that is served with almost every meal of the day from breakfast to supper. In the old days Moroccans used to bake their bread in shared neighborhood ovens or in communal ovens. Now, it seems like everyone has their own oven at home. However, in some places, the tradition of cooking bread or sweets in a communal oven is still alive.
Unlike the Arabic bread, the Moroccan whole wheat bread is a thicker round bread, crusty from the outside fluffy from the inside. In Morocco, Khobz serves to eat all the main dishes by hand like the renewed tagines, salads, and more. Many Moroccan street food dishes use widgets of bread to make sandwiches with different stuffings like meat, fish, and things like that.
#32 Spiced olives
You will get a small plate full of spiced olives before or with every Tagine you order in Morocco. Morocco is one of the largest producers of olives and olive oil. They taste pretty good, to be honest, and I love olives.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Eating Moroccan food gives you overwhelming pleasure but it can be also an unbearable pain. Most of the Moroccan dishes are meat-based so eating too many things and mixing up all kinds of food can do injustice to your stomach. Make sure to pack some over the counter medication and pain relievers just in case.
Which one of these foods would you try in Morocco? Is our Morocco food bucket list missing a dish that we need to try on our next trip? Please let us know in the comments below!