There are only a few cuisines in this world that are as extremely diverse as that of the Moroccans. Its interaction with various other cultures and nations over the centuries is the main contributing factor to the diversity in its cuisine. Their food has been subject to Berber, Moorish and Arab influences. The royal cooks have carved out a cuisine out of these bases and over the ages, have polished it to the Moroccan cuisine we know today.
[box_dark]The Various Ingredients[/box_dark]
- CORE INGREDIENTS
Morocco is located in the Mediterranean region. So it has a large variety of fruits, veggies, and tropical ingredients.
Common meats include beef, mutton, tons of poultry, rabbit, seafood and camel. These meats serve as a base for the cuisine.
Characteristic flavourings include lemon pickle, cold-pressed unrefined Olive Oil and dried fruits. It is known to be far more heavily spiced than other Middle Eastern cuisines.
- SPICES & FLAVOURINGS
Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. Although spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, many ingredients, like saffron from Tiliouine, mint and olives from Meknes, and oranges and lemons from Fez, are home-grown.
Common ones include spices like: Karfa (cinnamon), kamoun (cumin), kharkoum (turmeric), skinjbir(ginger), libzar (pepper), tahmira (paprika), anise seed, sesame seeds, qesbour (coriander), and zaafran beldi(saffron). Common herbs include mint and ‘maadnous’(parsley).
[box_dark]The Main Course[/box_dark]
The main Moroccan Berber dish most people are familiar with is couscous, the old national delicacy. Beef is the most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco. Lamb is also consumed. North African sheep breeds store most fat in their tails, which means that Moroccan lamb does not have the pungent flavour that Western lamb and mutton have.
Poultry is also very common, and the use of seafood is increasing in Moroccan food. Among the most famous Moroccan Berber dishes are Couscous, Pastilla (also spelled Bsteeya or Bestilla), Tajine, Tanjia and Harira.
Although the latter is a soup, it is considered as a dish in itself and is served as such or with dates especially during the month of Ramadan. Pork consumption is forbidden in accordance with Sharia, religious laws of Islam.
[box_dark]Street Food & Snacks[/box_dark]
Selling fast food in the street has long been a tradition, and the best example is Djemaa el Fna square in Marrakech. Starting in the 1980s, new snack restaurants started serving “Bocadillo” (a Spanish word for a sandwich, widely used in Morocco). Though the composition of a bocadillo varies by region, it is usually a baguette filled with salad and a choice of meat, fish (usually tuna), or omelette.
Dairy shops (Mahlaba in Moroccan Arabic) are located throughout all the cities in Morocco. They generally offer all types of dairy products, juices, and breakfasts as well as bocadillos; competing with former established snack restaurants (You can say they are Moroccan delis XD).
‘Twas the late 1990s, when several multinational fast-food franchises opened up shop in the major cities of morocco.
[box_dark]Moroccan Cuisine’s Travels[/box_dark]
Couscous is one of the most popular Berber North African dishes globally. Markets, stores and restaurants in Europe, especially in France and lately the UK feature lamb tajines, bastilla, and couscous.
Prolific American author, Paula Wolfert, published 9 cookbooks (2 on Moroccan cuisine) and enabled Moroccan-Americans to enjoy their native cuisine with ease. She even appeared on the Martha Stewart Show to demonstrate cooking in clay. The first Moroccan book was published in 1973 is still in print and was added to the James Beard Hall of Fame in 2008. The second Moroccan book came out last year and just won the James Beard Best International Cookbook of 2011.
Raised between Fez and San Sebastian, Chef Najat Kaanache has served as an unofficial Culinary Ambassador of Morocco, sharing Moroccan flavours and magical cooking techniques with many of the world’s top chefs during her pilgrimage through the best restaurant kitchens of Spain, Denmark, Holland and the US.
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