There's a lot more to Moroccan cuisine than couscous and tajines. From cooked vegetable salads and slow-cooked meats to fresh fruits and flaky pastries, the traditional foods of Morocco are mouth-watering.
Midrange restaurant menus can often repeat the same old tajines, so to get more variety you need to feast on street food or dine at one of the growing number of creative fusion restaurants. Home-cooked food is also some of the best in the country, so eating at your riad (guesthouse) can be another good option. Here are the best things to eat and drink in Morocco.
Find time to try a tajine
The quintessential Moroccan dish is a stew cooked in a conical earthenware pot that keeps the ingredients exceptionally moist and tender. The most common tajines are chicken with preserved lemons and green olives, lamb or beef with prunes, and kefta (spiced meatballs of ground lamb and/or beef) interspersed with eggs in a zesty tomato sauce.
Where to try it: Dar Hatim, Fez.
Bite into a brochette from a street stall
Moroccan kebabs are a firm favorite, rubbed with salt and spices, grilled on a skewer, and served with khobz (flatbread) and harissa (hot chili paste), cumin, and salt. Among the most popular varieties are lamb, chicken, kefta, and the flavorful ‘mixed meat’ (usually lamb or beef plus heart, kidney, and liver).
Where to try it: Djembe El Fna Food Stalls, Marrakesh.
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Savor Morocco’s national dish, couscous
Morocco’s national dish – aka seksu – is traditionally served on Fridays; although some restaurants now dish it up every day of the week. The age-old process is time-consuming: durum wheat is ground into fine granules and then rolled by hand. Salted water and flour are added, after which it can take up to five hours to steam to light and fluffy perfection.
Couscous is served with an array of vegetables – seksu bedawi, hailing from Casablanca, includes cabbage, carrots, courgettes, onions, potatoes, pumpkin, and squash – or a mix of meat or chicken and vegetables, all accompanied by a flavorsome broth that soaks into the couscous.
Where to try it: Al Mounia, Casablanca.
Scoff down some slow-cooked tanjia
This Marrakesh dish has been dubbed the bachelor’s dish, as it was originally cooked by single men who would put chunks of meat, onions, preserved lemon, garlic, and cumin into a terracotta pot and take it to the local communal oven or hammam to slow cook in the hot coals. Nowadays, it’s a dish that everyone should try in Morocco.
Where to try it: Hadj Mustapha, Marrakesh.
Treat yourself to cornes de gazelle
Literally translating to gazelle horns, these small crescent-shaped cookies stuffed with almond paste and laced with orange-flower water are found across Morocco, and best served with a piping-hot cup of “Berber whiskey” AKA mint tea.
Where to try it: Pâtisserie Bennis Habous, Casablanca
Chow down on bastilla
A Fassi specialty, though now found across the country, this savory-sweet pie is made up of wafer-thin warqa (filo-like pastry) traditionally stuffed with pigeon, chicken, or vegetables as well as caramelized onions, lemon, eggs, and toasted sugared almonds – and then dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
Where to try it: Ruined Garden, Fez (booking essential).
Don't miss melt-in-the-mouth mechoui
This traditional Moroccan dish consists of a whole lamb, marinated with spices and slow-roasted for hours in an underground oven until it falls off the bone and melts in the mouth. Perfect for groups in restaurants, although it’s possible to get a smaller portion from street stalls.
Where to try it: Mechoui Alley, Marrakesh.
Slurp up some budget-friendly bissara
This thick fava bean or broad bean soup is especially popular for breakfast, topped with a generous drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of cumin, and a freshly baked khobz (flatbread). It’s also often a filling, affordable option costing little more than a few dirhams.
Where to try it: Baissara Ansar, Chefchaouen.
Enjoy a refreshing maghrebi mint tea
This refreshing drink, affectionately nicknamed Berber whiskey, is ubiquitous across Morocco. Combining steeped green tea with a handful of fresh nana mint leaves (spearmint) and sugar, you'll be offered some when you arrive at your riad (guesthouse) or you're invited as a guest into someone's home. Small tea shops are often found in the souks, too.
Where to try it: Pâtisserie Driss, Essaouira.
Vegetarians and vegans
Despite the camel spleen sausages, sheep’s-head soup, and other nose-to-tail eating options, Morocco offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Dried fruit, nuts, and olives from the souq are solid snack options or grab some goat cheese with just-baked khobz (bread).
If you're eating and drinking out in Morocco, you can load up on pastries, pancakes, fresh fruit, and fresh-squeezed juice for breakfast. Bissara is a delicious bean soup that’s typically meat-free, but steer clear of bubbling roadside vats – they may contain snails or sheep’s-head soup.
At lunch, try the mezze of salads, which come with fresh bread and may range from delicate cucumbers in orange-blossom water to substantial herbed beets laced with kaffir lime. Vegetarians can sometimes, but not always, order a vegetable tajine or couscous with seven vegetables —call ahead if you can. Pizza is another widely available and inexpensive vegetarian option, best when topped with local herbs and olives.
Foods worth trying
Nothing goes to waste in Morocco and those with a strong stomach should try these popular dishes, available from markets and food stalls across the country.
Snail soup Pluck the earthy-tasting snails from their shells and then drink the flavorsome broth or opt for the broth sans snails; this mix of more than 10 spices is reputedly good for your digestive system.
Camel spleen Think more camel sausage. The spleen is stuffed with camel meat, spices, and hump fat and then baked, sliced, grilled, and served up in a gamey-tasting sandwich.
Sheep’s head Watching a sheep’s head being charred over hot coals isn’t for the squeamish, but Moroccans have their favorite parts, perhaps a soft chunk of the cheek. The brain is probably bubbling away in a rich sauce nearby.
A year in food
Morocco is the archetypal Slow Food destination, and there’s never a bad time to visit. Its myriad fruits and vegetables are often bound for Europe, but head to any medina market to find local, seasonal produce piled high on market stalls and wooden carts.
It’s time for avocados, apricots, and oranges, as well as strawberries, delicious in fresh juices.
Fruits, such as watermelon, tomatoes, peaches, figs, grapes, and prickly pear have ripened, and mid-June brings the Cherry Festival in Sefrou.
Autumn sees grapes and pomegranates (mentioned in the Quran as being one of the fruits of paradise), along with the date harvest – it’s said that Morocco has more than 100 varieties.
The cooler months bring clementines, onions, beetroots, carrots, and potatoes, as well as omnipresent oranges.
Eating during Ramadan
During Ramadan, most Moroccans observe the fast during the day, eating only before sunrise and after sunset. Dinner is eaten later than usual, and many wake up early for a filling breakfast before dawn.
Although you will not be expected to observe the fast, eating in public is still frowned upon. Hence many restaurants are closed during the day until iftar, the evening meal when the fast is broken – though if you call ahead to restaurants in tourist areas, you may have luck. Plan ahead: load up on snacks in the market to eat indoors, make arrangements for breakfast or lunch in the privacy of your guesthouse and ask locals about a good place to enjoy iftar.
What is a typical Moroccan meal? ›
The main Moroccan dish people are most familiar with is couscous; beef is the most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco, usually eaten in a tagine with a wide selection of vegetables. Chicken is also very commonly used in tagines or roasted. They also use additional ingredients such as plums, boiled eggs, and lemon.What can you eat and drink in Morocco? ›
- B'ssara. At a few pennies a bowl, this rich soup of dried broad beans is traditionally served for breakfast, topped with a swirl of olive oil, a sprinkling of cumin and bread fresh from the oven.
- Tagine. ...
- Fish chermoula. ...
- Harira. ...
- Kefta tagine. ...
- Couscous. ...
- Makouda. ...
One of the foremost popular Moroccan dishes is couscous. Traditionally, it's made from wheat pasta, which is rolled and sliced by hand. It's steamed with stewed meat and seasonal vegetables. While serving, the couscous is covered by meat, then vegetables are placed on top or on the edges of the pyramid.
Do not eat, hand, or grab things with your left hand. As a foreigner, if you are sharing a meal with Moroccans, it is recommended that you use your right hand to pass dishes, to grab something, or to take food. The left hand is considered unclean and is often prohibited when touching food or shaking hands.What is a typical breakfast in Morocco? ›
In Morocco bread is eaten with every meal and breakfast is not an exception. Pancakes and cakes made from semolina are also frequent guests on the table. Other Moroccan breakfast staples are fresh goat's cheese and olives. Such a popular in many countries morning meal option as fried egg is beloved in Morocco too!What is the national drink of Morocco? ›
“Mint tea is Morocco's national beverage and favourite pastime. Steeped in ritual and ceremony, it is always served to a guest when in a home or shop. Even a family without electricity, furniture, or an adequate roof will likely own a silver tray and pot for serving tea.What can you not eat in Morocco? ›
Food in Morocco is delicious and amongst the best in the world. However, you should only eat fruit or vegetables that have been peeled, washed or thoroughly cooked prior to eating. Seasoned travelers avoid salads altogether unless they're sure they've been prepared hygienically.Can I brush my teeth with tap water in Morocco? ›
Stick to bottled water
You shouldn't drink the tap water in Morocco, or even use it to brush your teeth.
- Mint tea. Morocco's signature drink is more than refreshing. Mint tea is served with reverence, as a gesture of hospitality and welcome that warms both the mouth and the heart.
- Orange juice. Citrus is big business in Morocco. ...
- Water. It's important to stay hydrated while travelling in Morocco.
Although most would think mint tea is the most popular warm beverage in Morocco, the truth is that Moroccans love coffee, and its consumption is enshrined in their café culture and love for sipping this world-renowned drink.
What should female tourists wear in Marrakech? ›
Women in particular are advised to dress modestly, covering shoulders and legs, particularly above the knee. Men can get away with dressing in shorts and a t-shirt, but women are advised to cover up a bit more.What vegetables do Moroccans eat? ›
Potatoes, onions, zucchini, carrots, and pumpkin are common vegetables in a Moroccan dish. Eggplant is a favorite vegetable in Morocco and turns up in many cooked vegetable salads or fried dishes. Being a country with a Mediterranean side, olives are common in their cooking.What is considered rude in Morocco? ›
Use your right hand. In Morocco, the left hand is reserved for bathroom hygiene and dirty chores. So it is considered incredibly rude to eat, shake hands, give a gift, or leave a tip with your left hand.What you should not do in Morocco? ›
You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times. See Travelling during Ramadan. Avoid public displays of affection, particularly outside the main tourist areas and near religious places. Sexual relations outside marriage are punishable by law.What should female tourists wear in Morocco? ›
Think Loose and Flowy
All things lightweight and full coverage is ideal—loose trousers or maxi skirts are perfect. A tunic dress or shirt with leggings or a full kaftan is great too. Not only does full coverage allow you to dress conservatively in Morocco, but it will also protect you from the sun.
In addition to Morocco being an agricultural country, you may find that vegetables and fruits play a huge role in the kitchen of Moroccans and add a pure test to their dishes. In addition to the flavors, Moroccan cuisine is based on olive oil, Argan Oil that they use in almost every dish.Do they eat rice in Morocco? ›
Dietary staples include wheat, couscous, chicken, meat and seafood. Moroccan chef Aghchoui and his team tell us that Moroccans rarely eat rice, possibly only once a year — a revelation that shocked us. The first course in a Moroccan meal may consist of salad or soup, and the traditional bread.What is traditionally served with tagine? ›
Traditionally, tagine is served as a dish to share communally, using Moroccan bread to scoop and up the meat, vegetables, and sauce. Tagine is also delicious served over couscous.Is Moroccan food the best in the world? ›
Moroccan gastronomy is known worldwide as one of the most delicious and flavorful cuisines! With influences from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Moroccan cuisine is a unique blend of colorful ingredients and cultural techniques.