Topics include Dining Scene, Morocco: For Foreign Visitors & more!
Moroccan cuisine is considered one of the most important cuisines in the world. One of the reasons for its importance is its remarkable diversity of influences. In Moroccan dishes, one can trace the country's long history of colonizers and immigrants who have left their mark in more than one way. The cuisine of the first inhabitants, the Berbers, still exists today in the staple dishes like tagine and couscous. The Arab invasion brought new spices, nuts and dried fruits, and the sweet and sour combinations that is seen in dishes like tagine with dates and lamb. The Moors introduced olives, olive juice and citrus while the Jewish-Moors left behind their sophisticated preserving techniques that is seen in the frequent use of preserved lemons, pickles, etc. The Ottoman Empire introduced barbeque (kebabs) to Moroccan cuisine. The French colony, although short-lived compared to reign of some of these other empires, left behind a culture of cafes, pastries, and even wine. Over time, cooks in the kitchens of the four royal cities (Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes, and Rabat) have developed and perfected the dishes that blend each of these distinct tastes. Every Moroccan dish has its place in society and varies with the market, the season, and the region.
Harira is the most important soup in Morocco as it serves as the breaker of the fast during the whole month of Ramadan. During this month, at the break of the fast, harira is accompanied by dates, warm milk, juices, bread, and traditional Moroccan pancakes. Tagine , also spelled tajine, is an historically Berber dish. It is a stew made of meats and vegetables and traditionally cooked in a conical clay pot to allow the steam to rise, condense, and drip back down to the stew. Tagines are traditionally prepared on top of a portable clay majmar (much cheaper than a stove!) under which people put hot coals. Practically anything can be turned into a tajine: meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, and some even make it with meat and fruits. Couscous , known also in Morocco as seksu, is a traditional Berber dish as well. It is a dish made of fine semolina and topped with meat and vegetables. Couscous is typically made with seven vegetables. There is also a sweet variant called ''Couscous Fassi'' made from caramelized onions, raisins and chickpeas. It can be served as a vegetarian dish without the meat or the chicken. As is apparent in its Spanish-sounding name, Pastilla (bisteeya or basteela) is an Andalusian dish brought to Morocco by the Moors when they were chased out of Southern Spain in the 15th century. It has since become a trademark Moroccan dish that many Moroccans proudly claim was “perfected” in Fez. It takes a long time and a lot of work to prepare, so the only time that you will see this dish in Moroccan households is for a wedding or some other special occasion.