The most important tip I can give you on Morocco local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Morocco, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in Morocco
Moroccan cuisine is often reputed to be some of the best in the world, with countless dishes and variations proudly bearing the country’s colonial and Arabic influences. Unfortunately as a tourist through Morocco, especially if you’re on a budget, you’ll be limited to the handful of dishes that seem to have a monopoly on cafe and restaurant menus throughout the country. Most restaurants serve dishes foreign to Morocco considering that Moroccans can eat their domestic dishes at home. Apart from major cities, Moroccans do not generally eat out in restaurants so choice is generally limited to international fare such as Chinese, Indian and French cuisine.
Traditional cuisine Couscous made from semolina grains and steamed in a colander-like dish known as a couscoussière is the staple food for most Moroccans, and is probably the best known Moroccan meal. It can be served as an accompaniment to a stew or tagine, or mixed with meat and vegetables and presented as a main course. Almost all Moroccan restaurants uphold the tradition of serving couscous on Fridays. Tagine (or tajine), a spicy stew of meat and vegetables that has been simmered for many hours in a conical clay pot (from which the dish derives its name). Restaurants offer dozens of variations (from MAD25 in budget restaurant) including chicken tagine with lemon and olives, honey-sweetened lamb or beef, fish or prawn tagine in a spicy tomato sauce.
There are many variations of this dish. A popular Berber contribution to Moroccan cuisine is kaliya, a combination of lamb, tomatoes, bell peppers and onion and served with couscous or bread. A popular delicacy in Morocco is Bastella, made by layering thin pieces of flakey dough between sweet, spiced meat filling (often lamb or chicken, but most enjoyably pigeon) and layers of almond-paste filling. The dough is wrapped into a plate-sized pastry that is baked and coated with a dusting of powdered sugar.
A MAD3-5 serve of harira or besara will always include some bread to mop the soup up and will fill you up for breakfast or lunch: Moroccans often elect to begin their meals with warming bowl of harira (French: soupe marocaine), a delicious soup made from lentils, chick peas, lamb stock, tomatoes and vegetables. Surprisingly, among Moroccans harira has a role of nourishing food for “blue-collars” rather than a high-flying cuisine. Soups are also traditional breakfasts in Morocco. Bissara, a thick glop made from split peas and a generous wallop of olive oil can be found bubbling away near markets and in medinas in the mornings.
Many cafes (see Drink) and restaurants also offer good value petit déjeuner breakfast deals, which basically include a tea or coffee, orange juice (jus d’Orange) and a croissant or bread with marmalade from MAD10. Snacks and fast food Snackers and budget watchers are well catered for in Morocco. Rotisserie chicken shops abound, where you can get a quarter chicken served with fries and salad for around MAD20. Sandwiches (from MAD10) served from rotisserie chicken shops or hole-in-the-wall establishments are also popular.
These fresh crusty baguettes are stuffed with any number of fillings including tuna, chicken, brochettes and a variety of salads. This is all usually topped off with the obligatory wad of French fries stuffed into the sandwich and lashings of mayonnaise squeezed on top. You may also see hawkers and vendors selling a variety of nuts, as well as steamed broad beans and BBQ’d corn cobs. Clarify the price before ordering and make sure about what you order (the best is aking for the menu). Otherwise you might be charged more or get food you haven’t orderd, but last one happens very infrequent.
What to Drink in Morocco
Although a predominantly Muslim country, Morocco is not dry. The purchasing age of Alcoholic beverages is 18, however there is no legal drinking age. Alcohol is available in restaurants, liquor stores, bars, supermarkets, clubs, hotels and discos. Some Moroccans enjoy a drink although it is disapproved in public places. The local brew of choice carries the highly original name of Casablanca Beer. It is a full flavored lager and enjoyable with the local cuisine or as a refreshment. The other two major Moroccan beers are Flag Special and Stork. Also you can find local judeo-berber vodka, mild anise flavored and brewed from figs.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal even if you drank just one beer As a rule, do not drink tap water at all in Morocco, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of minerals than the water in Europe. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for travellers from places such as Europe, drinking the tap water will usually result in illness. Generally this is not serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it is enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday.
Bottled water is widely available. Popular brands of water include Oulmes (sparkling) and Sidi Ali, Sidi Harazem and Ain Saiss DANONE (still). The latter has a slightly mineral and metallic taste. Nothing with a high mineralization produced (so far?). Any traveller will be offered (sometimes very sweet) mint tea at least once a day. Locally known as “Moroccan whiskey” due to its similarity in color, the small glasses it is usually drunk from, and the fact that most Moroccans do not drink alcohol, even the most financially modest Moroccan is equipped with a tea pot, a few glasses, and an almost reverent attitude toward sharing this drink with a guest.
Sometimes the offer is more of a lure into a shop than a hospitable gesture — use your wits to determine when to accept. Before drinking, look your host in the eye and say “ba saha ou raha”. It means “enjoy and relax,” and any local will be impressed with your language skills. Note that a solo woman may feel more comfortable having a drink or snack at a pastry shop or restaurant as cafes are traditionally for men. This doesn’t apply to couples though.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.