Morocco is heaven on earth for those that love food as much as the Moroccans do; where eating is an important social ritual and meals are feasts for the eyes as well as for the stomach. A common feature that runs through most Moroccan recipes is the amount of herbs and spices used; combined with slow cooked meats. Vegetables and fruit are always available due to the exceptional climate; fruits can include oranges, apples, figs, and cherries. There are many other aspects of Moroccan food that is as equally fascinating, which will be covered in this section on Moroccan food and drink.
In most Moroccan families the main meal is served around midday unless it’s Ramadan, where food and drink will only be served before dawn and after sunset. There are several courses served at one meal andthis may seem an inordinate amount of food for one sitting, especially for those of us in the west who are accustomed to eating more conservatively. However, eating at mealtimes is a family gathering, a social meeting place where everyone can gather at the same table and catch up with news and gossip. Moroccans are very close to their families and mealtimes are an ideal time of day to meet up.
Spices and herbs are used to enhance the food rather than mask the taste. Some of the spices most commonly used are saffron, cinnamon, cumin, ground ginger, and paprika. Black pepper is also used and sesame seeds are to be found in bread and some sweets.
Most Moroccan foods start with salads and these can be served hot or cold. A variety of ingredients are used such as onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, chickpeas, green peppers, mixed herbs and eggplants (aubergine) and couscous. Two popular salads are chatchuka with includes tomatoes and green peppers, and ihzina, which will include olives, and slices of orange with some paprika. Sometimes instead of a salad a hot soup will be made such as harira with tomatoes, lentils and rice or noodles, flavoured with coriander. It is often the first meal Moroccans eat after a month of Ramadan. A pastry can come next with a combination of meat, fruits and vegetables.
Chicken and lamb play a big part in main meals and these are usually slow cooked in a tajine. A tajine is a tall conical funnel dish usually made of glazed earthenware. There are two types of tajine, the one you cook in and the one you serve with. They come with a variety of vegetables and are flavoured with spices such as saffron, turmeric, cumin and ginger. Although meat dominates most meals, there are other options for the vegetarian with such a variety of fruit and vegetables available. There is also a variety of breads and couscous.
Desserts are as equally delicious as the main meals. There are pastries, biscuits and crepes that are filled with all kinds of delicious fillings from nuts to fruit and usually covered in honey. Pastries are popular, and are usually served with nuts, cinnamon and fruit and are very filling.
A feast like is this is usually finished off with mint tea, which is a great favourite with Moroccans.This is usually served in glasses and the leaves are left in a pot to fuse in boiling hot water, more leaves can be added along with some sugar. The tea is then poured out slowly and tasted,and then repeated again. This tea can be found served in most souks as well as at a Moroccan family dinner. Coffee is popular too and is served strong either black or with milk.
Fast food is becoming more popular in Morocco with stalls selling fresh bread flavoured with olives, fruit and spices and sweet snacks comprising of flavoured biscuits with honey and nuts, usually almonds. Moroccans don’t really drink alcohol especially during Ramadan, although they are happy to serve it and it’s available in most hotels and bars.
Moroccan food isa rich and colourful combination of flavours using spices and herbs that have come from different nations and cultures over the centuries.Most will find something they like at a Moroccan table;there is much to choose from with plenty of variety and colour.
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