The foods of Morocco take great advantage of the natural bounty of a country where eating is both a practical and social ritual. The cooks in the kitchens of the four royal cities (Fez, Meknes, Marrakech and Rabat) helped to refine Moroccan cuisine and create
the basis for what we know as Moroccan cuisine today. The midday meal is the main meal, except during the holy month of Ramadan, and abundant servings are the norm. The meal usually begins with a series of hot and cold salads which are followed by a
tagine, or stew. The heartiest plate, often a lamb or chicken dish, is next, followed by a heaping plate of couscous topped with meats and vegetables. A soothing cup of sweet mint tea is the grace note to this repast. It is not uncommon for Moroccans to eat
using the first three fingers of a hand, and to use bread as a "utensil."
The Moroccans are quick to point out that the best meals are found not in the restaurants but in the homes. In this land of good and abundant food, the emphasis is clearly on preparing your own. It is worth mentioning that women do virtually all of the cooking
in this very traditional country
Moroccan cuisine is rich in spices, only natural when you consider the ages-old spice trade from Arabia to North Africa. Spices here are used to enhance, not mask, the flavor of food. The following spices are among the most commonly used:
Saffron, Cinnamon, Cumin, ground Ginger, Paprika,
Black pepper and Sesame seed Herbs also play an important role in Moroccan food, chief among them the following:
Parsley, Green coriander, Cilantro
The Moroccan table also makes good use of the following ingredients:
Onions, garlic, preserved lemons, couscous, filo dough, eggs, chick-peas, olives, orange flower waters and honey
You are probably quite likely to find the following items at a Moroccan banquet. If so, consider yourself lucky, for you'll be eating some of the most delicious food around.
A fresh, cool salad is often served at the start of a meal. Among the most commonly served are a tomato and green pepper salad, a mixed herb salad, eggplant salad.
This traditional savory pastry is made in three layers:
a layer of shredded chicken is topped with eggs which are curdled in a lemony onion sauce and further topped with a dusting of sweetened almonds. The whole is enclosed in filo dough and topped by a layer of cinnamon and sugar.
These are fine semolina grains which are plumped by steaming them over a simmering stew. The grains are then piled on a large platter, with the stew heaped on top. It is often served with either lamb or chicken and topped with an assortment of vegetables.
Some of the tastiest dishes in Moroccan cookery involve chicken, which can be steamed, broiled or fried and is often accompanied with vegetables.
Chicken with lemon and olives is the classic preparation, while a chicken tagine cooked with butter, onions, pepper, saffron, chick-peas, and lemon is also popular. Chickens are also prepared stuffed with raisins, almonds, and honey sauce.
Lamb is king on the Moroccan table, especially roasted lamb, which is as tender and flavorful as you will find. It can also be braised, browned, steamed or served on skewers, the latter commonly known as shish kebab. Lamb or beef which has been generously
spiced, placed on a skewer and broiled Also, lamb tagines are prepared with an assortment of vegetables and some even use fruits such as dried plums.
Pastries which sre stuffed with almond paste and topped with sugar, while honey cakes are pretzel-shaped pieces of dough which are deep-fried, dipped into a piping-hot pot of honey and then sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Green tea is steeped and then laced with sugar and fresh spearmint. The resulting brew is a minty, sweet, and very tasty.