We tried a variety of Moroccan cuisine while we were there. Before traveling to Morocco, we associated Arab cuisine with fascinating flavors, combinations of oriental spices with meat and vegetables, aromatic tea variations, and mouthwatering fish. So what did we order, and what foods and beverages are available in Moroccan restaurants and cafés? To find out more about the food of Morocco, see this article.
meat and veggies in couscous
In Europe, couscous is expensive and almost often considered an unusual side dish. For gastronomic delights, a kilo of couscous will cost between 3 and 4 euros in the Czech Republic, for instance. In Morocco, couscous is a common side dish that is used in a number of traditional dishes. For those who don’t know, couscous is grits that have been roughly ground.
The most popular version of this side dish is Morocco’s national dish is couscous with vegetables and a piece of meat (chicken, cattle, lamb, or fish). In a regular pot or a specialized pot called a tajine, couscous is cooked. Tajin is a ceramic dish with a conical top. In a tagine, the food stews and takes on a delicate flavor. When food is ready, the cover is taken off and a ceramic tray with couscous, vegetables (turnips, carrots, and eggplant) that have been roughly diced, bone-in meat, and flavorful seasonings is placed on top. It sounds delicious, doesn’t it? However, it is definitely not advantageous for you if you don’t like couscous, consume meat, and want to be well-fed. This is because only 100 grams of beef are used in such dishes.
Couscous aux legumes et à la viande (vegetarian couscous with meat) often costs between 45 and 80 dirhams at Moroccan restaurants, depending on how touristy the area is. In my opinion, I anticipated finding enormous amounts at such low prices in Africa.
A tajine is anything prepared in one, not just a pot used for stewing meat. We enjoyed the tajine with beef and prunes (tajine de boeuf aux prunes) and the tajine with chicken, lemon, and olives (tajine with chicken, lemon, and olives) (tajine de poulet au citron). Tajine is typically prepared over a fire with the addition of spices, dried fruits, and olive oil for taste. Pieces of Moroccan flatbread are provided to sop up any remaining sauce along with this dish, which may also be garnished with almonds or boiled egg slices.
Menus in Moroccan restaurants are typically only available in Arabic or French. Make sure to look up the translation of uncommon dishes in a dictionary if you don’t understand any of these languages otherwise you can find up eating tajine with giblets or liver in place of meat.
Depending on the fillings, a tagine might cost anywhere from Dh40 to Dh90 on average. At the Menara Mall in Marrakech, we had the most delicious and substantial tajine for 85 dirhams. We never again experienced a tajine with such a powerful flavor, no matter where we tried it. At the Zayna restaurant in the new medina, we had the worst tajine with liver we’d ever had in Casablanca.
Shish Kebab Kebab
Similar to our shish kebab, a popular type of kebab from Turkey has made its way to Morocco. These kebabs are often cooked with lamb or chicken and served with fresh vegetables and onions. A quick and simple snack is a shish kebab. It is offered in the Moroccan cuisine courts of shopping centers and roadside cafés. It often comes with little side salad made of vegetables and French fries. A portion of shish kebab with a side dish costs between 60 and 70 dirhams in a hygienic environment.
Moroccan soup called harira is created from lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, and meat broth. Two dates and a flatbread with mint are served with the soup. The ingredients for the soup can be mixed in a blender and served either whole or pulverized. The soup is garnished with lemon juice and occasionally pieces of chicken or lamb when it is served. We found harira soup to be very greasy and spicy, which may be why Arabs eat it when fasting during Ramadan. Around 6–8 dirhams will get you a bowl of harira soup.
Moroccan cuisine mint tea
Because it is so soothing, the local mint tea, or thé à la menthe, is frequently called “Moroccan whisky.” Before being poured into a vintage teapot with a small spout, green tea with peppermint is heavily sugared. Tea is poured into tiny glass cups from a height, where it gets oxygenated and foam forms. Each participant drinks one miniature kettle of mint tea throughout the dinner. In the cafe, a cup of mint tea costs 15 to 20 dirhams.
A large bundle of dried mint may be purchased at Moroccan shops for less than ten dirhams, and you can make yourself a delightful cup of mint tea at home. Another problem is that the tea won’t be in factory packaging, which can make border customs officials suspicious. But this is obviously a prank. Along with dried mint, berber tea is a seductive concoction of mountain herbs with a distinctive flavor.
Moroccan cuisine desserts
Businesses have entire sections devoted to tiny packaged cookies because the locals love sweets. You can construct your own candy box or purchase one that has already been assembled. These treats, in my memory, had a marzipan filling and a wonderful almond and honey flavor. We carried them to Prague, but once there, we realized that we had only appreciated them in Morocco and that they had not stirred up any special emotions in us. A package of Moroccan sweets that weighs a kilo costs between 70 and 100 dirhams. Not a bad present for those with sweet tooths.
In the adorable L’Adresse café in Marrakech‘s medina’s Djema el-Fna plaza, we tried these delicacies before the Carrefour store and ordered a meal with them for dessert. About 70 dirhams would be a good estimate.
We were really pleased with the candies that the Paul’s chain of confectioneries in Morocco was selling. Compared to what we were used to in Prague, they were far better. A beautiful raspberry tartlet and a cup of coffee cost 55 dirhams in Marrakech.
Pomegranate and fresh orange
Long considered an orange paradise, Morocco. Here, oranges and their freshly squeezed juice are excellent. We did not sample the fresh fruit sold on the streets because of the poor cleanliness in some areas, but for 15 to 20 dirhams, you can buy a fresh fruit platter made up of exquisite oranges in any café or restaurant. Because Moroccan running water is of poor quality and is used to make ice, we asked that no ice be added to the juice.
Moroccan streets also sell pomegranate juice for just 10 dirhams, in addition to orange juice. The native pomegranates, which were little and pink, didn’t appeal to us. However, the imported Turkish pomegranates were so delicious and practically overflowing with juice that we brought a few back to Prague.
The odd thing is that Moroccan medina markets occasionally have carts of cacti. The vendor cleans the cactus in front of you with special gloves before removing a delicious red fruit. Avoiding becoming dirty is the main objective here.
Arabic fast Moroccan cuisine
Fast food and street cuisine were useful in Morocco, especially as our trip was coming to an end and the traditional tagine was no longer an option. Traditional fast food options include burgers, pizza, and pasta. At the mall in Fez, we tried some pizza and pasta with meat but weren’t pleased, so we ordered more. Funny thing about the pasta was that after two plates, we still felt hungry.
We had incredibly delicious and juicy hamburgers at Blend, which was close to the apartment we were renting in Casablanca. At McDonald’s, a decent burger with meat runs about 40 to 50 dirhams. Two people can enjoy a great lunch of hamburgers and beverages for 200 dirhams.
We never entered a place that provided neighborhood fast food. The interior was terribly messy and unclean. Typically, these cafés provide sandwiches, pizza, burgers, and shawarma for 20 to 45 dirhams each. Such places are easily recognized by their stench, which is audible from a mile away.
Moroccan cuisine Seafood
We skipped the seafood while we were in Morocco because it was only served in restaurants run by foreigners and we preferred to eat authentic local fare. I frequently went to the fish counters in Acima and Carrefour supermarkets and was consistently shocked by the price of seafood. For instance, a kilo of little shrimp costs about 14 euros, yet in the nearby Canary Islands, a large box of shrimp weighing at least 2.5 to 3 kilograms costs less than 20 euros. The common belief in Morocco is that local markets are the only places to find inexpensive seafood. Nobody will ever disclose the full cost to a tourist, though. And be ready to pay a premium if you want to get fish from a store under normal circumstances.
Date options nearby
Morocco grows dates, just like many other southern nations. We tried a range of dates, including ones that cost 180 dirhams per kg in the supermarket, 120 dirhams per kg at the medina bazaar, and 40 dirhams per kg at a small kiosk next to the house. The most expensive ones, which were really syrupy and juicy, would have been a great alternative to candy. The less expensive ones, though, didn’t stir up anything special. The market also sells Tunisian dates in addition to Moroccan dates.
I got the sense that bread was the main item on the Moroccan table because it is easy to see from observing Moroccans that they are poor. But when I tasted various kinds of bread in Morocco, I was yet again unimpressed. Any bread, whether it was baguette bought at a European shop, bread provided at lunch in a restaurant, or bread purchased at the market, was always rubbery and unappealing. Tortillas from Morocco are commonly offered to diners. They can frequently be found in Moroccan food markets.
Like other Arab nations, Morocco has a limited supply of alcohol. However, it can be found in specialized liquor stores or shopping centers built in expat neighborhoods far from mosques.
We were pleasantly surprised to discover several decent local wines, particularly the reds. French technology is used to produce the wines here, and European professionals are closely involved in the process. You may expect to pay between 55 and 100 dirhams for a 0.75 liter bottle. The only place in the world where “vino gris,” a rare grey wine, is sold is in Morocco. We gave it a try but found nothing special about it.
In addition to wine, beer is also produced in Morocco. Only the Casablanca Premium beer was available to us. A specialized alkomarket charges approximately 15 dirhams for a 0.33-liter bottle. The beverage was discovered to be a straightforward light lager with no unnecessary flavors or aftertaste. So we decided to have a glass of red wine and enjoy the evening.
Last but not least, I’d like to say that we had higher hopes for Moroccan food. It cannot be compared to the gastronomy of the nearby Canary Islands and falls short of Mediterranean cuisine in many ways. Tourists assert that the seafood at the beach resort town of Agadir is superior than that found across the rest of the nation, but we haven’t verified this. The expensive prices and small portions at European restaurants let us down. Have you ever tried Moroccan cuisine?