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Introduction To Moroccan Cuisine - Main Ingredients And Recipes

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August 10, 2017 / Moroccan / By
ETG - Food For Thought

Moroccan cuisine is a mix of Arabic, Mediterranean, Andalusian and Berber cuisines that also has some European influences. The most popular dish of Morocco is the famous couscous that is now served in restaurants from all over the world. Another popular dish of Morocco is tagine or tajine, a hearty, savory stew usually made with beef and vegetables. This dish, as most Moroccan dishes is spicy, sweet and sour at the same time.

Spices are very important in Moroccan cuisine and so are other herbs and ingredients so before talking about some amazing Moroccan recipes we decided to give you an introduction to the things you need to have in your house if you want to try some traditional Moroccan dishes or dishes that are inspired by Morocco’s cuisine.

Moroccan Spices, Herbs And Other Ingredients

Moroccan Spices

You won’t need many spices to prepare an amazing tagine or the famous couscous, however, it is important to find the ones that are most commonly used in Moroccan cuisine and that can be a complicated and, sometimes, expensive task.

Ras El Hanout

Ras El Hanout is a spice blend that is very important if you really want to enjoy the flavors of Moroccan dishes in your own home. The exotic flavor of this spice blend is essential in tagines, meat dishes but also in vegetable dishes. If you cannot find Ras El Hanout at your local grocery store, you can order it online from various shops and websites including Amazon.

Saffron

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world but its delicate and distinctive aroma add an amazing taste to various dishes including those from the Moroccan cuisine. Saffron also gives food a nice color due to its yellow-orangey pigmentation. In Moroccan cuisine, saffron is usually used in main dishes but it also used is some unexpected ways, such as tea – the Moroccan saffron tea, chebakia – a fried sesame cookie and in soup – semolina soup, to be more specific.

Moroccan Herbs

While the spices are used in small quantities in Moroccan cuisine, herbs are used abundantly in most everyday dishes The most common herbs are garlic, onion, cilantro and parsley.

Other Ingredients Used In Moroccan Cuisine

Couscous

Couscous is considered Morocco’s national dish so, of course, we have to talk about it first. Some time ago, couscous was used in Moroccan cuisine as a substitute for bread and was eaten on a daily basis but nowadays it is mainly used in dishes such as couscous tfaya and couscous with vegetables. The most common couscous in Morocco is the one made from semolina but you can also find corn, wheat, seeds and barley varieties.

Warqa

Warqa is a very thin pastry dough similar to phyllo dough that is used in various recipes including Chicken Bastilla – the Moroccan chicken pie or in sweet treats like ktefa  - Moroccan pastry with crème anglaise.

Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons are very common in Morocco and can be purchased from grocery stores however, they can be hard to find in other countries and if you want to add their distinctive flavor to the dishes you prepare at home, it is best to learn how to make them. All you need for preserved lemons is fresh lemons, water and kosher salt. We found a great article that explains how to make preserved lemons and a few suggestions of dishes you can use them in on Daring Gourmet.

Olives

Olives, usually red or green olives, are used in Morocco in various dishes, such as chicken tagine but they are also served as condiments or used for garnishing.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are used in Moroccan cuisine for garnishing various dishes or to add texture and a nutty flavor to baked goods. When it comes to baked goods, sesame seeds are commonly used in bread but also sweets.

Semolina

Another ingredient extensively used in Moroccan cuisine is semolina. Fine and coarse semolina is the main ingredient of the famous Moroccan couscous but can also be found in various types of bread specialties and sweet treats, such as crepes and pancakes.

Almonds

Used in baking goods but also as a garnish or a snack, almonds are well loved by Moroccans for their delicate nutty flavor. Almond Briouats – a Moroccan pastry with almonds and honey is one of the traditional desserts where almonds are a key ingredient.

Sugar

Sugar is used all around the globe but Morocco has one of the highest sugar consumption figures per capita in the world so, it’s safe to say, sugar is very important for Moroccan people. With all the healthy concerns surrounding sugar, Moroccans tried to limit their sugar consumption but it is still used a lot for sweeting in both cooking and baking.

Honey

Another popular sweetener used In Morocco is honey. Honey is used for cooking but also as a condiment and a natural remedy for various health problems. There are numerous types of flavors of honey in Morocco including orange blossom and eucalyptus.

Harissa

Originally from Tunisia, harissa was introduced to the Moroccan food scene a few decades ago and it became a very popular ingredient in stews, marinades and tapenades. The hot chili pepper paste is also served as a condiment for tagines, sandwiches and grilled meats.

Orange Flower Water

Orange flower water is a key ingredient in numerous savory Moroccan dishes and soups but also in sweet treats like pastries and puddings. Some Moroccans prefer rose water instead of orange flower water. These two fragrant waters can be used interchangeably most of the times but the orange flower water is generally more used than the rose water.

Khlea

Khlea, also known as khlii, is a preserved meat that can be added to eggs and vegetable dishes. Usually made from beef, lamb or camel meat, khlea is considered almost a delicacy nowadays. In the past, when refrigerators were not found in every Moroccan house, preserved meats where dietary staples.

Dried Beans

White beans, black-eyed beans, fava beans and lentils are staples in Moroccan cooking because they are delicious, nutritious and also economical. Dried beans are used in soups, stews, couscous and purees.

Smen

Another traditional and essential ingredient of Moroccan cuisine is smen, a preserved butter that can be added to various dishes like harira soup and chicken rfissa. Smen can also be enjoyed on a slice of bread but if you are not familiar with it like Moroccans are, you might find the aroma of smen too pungent if it is not incorporated in a dish.

Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are not only a healthy snack in Moroccan cuisine, they are used as a key ingredient in numerous dishes, including savory dishes like tagine and sweet pastries. The most common dried fruits are prunes, figs, dates and raisins.

Moroccan Recipes

After we introduced you to some of the most common ingredients used in Moroccan cuisine, it is time to talk about our favorite Moroccan recipes you can try at home.

Moroccan Lamb or Beef Tagine with Apricots from The Spruce

This tagine recipe is the epitome of Moroccan cuisine. Tagine is one of the most popular meat dishes and this recipe includes another favorite ingredient – apricots. You can make tagine without dried fruits however, adding apricots or dried fruits to the dish makes it really special.

Detox Moroccan Sweet Potato Lentil Soup from Little Spice Jar

This Moroccan Sweet Potato Soup is great especially during winter months when all you want is something to keep you warm. The soup is not only healthy but also easy to make.

Slow-Cooked Moroccan Lamb Pies from BestRecipes.com.au

Lamb Pies are another amazing Moroccan dish you can easily replicate at home. You can use chicken if you do not like lamb.

Moroccan Lamb Meatballs from The Girl Loves To Eat

Moroccan meatballs are different than the beef or pork meatballs we are used to but they are delicious and full of amazing flavors.

Moroccan Carrot & Quinoa Salad from Happy Hearted Kitchen

This Moroccan Carrot & Quinoa Salad is great as an appetizer, side salad or as a vegan lunch if you add chickpeas, beans or any other type of protein in it.

Moroccan Chickpea Salad from Delicious Everyday

Another flavorful and delicious salad is this Moroccan Chickpea Salad that is perfect for lunch or a light dinner. You can make it vegan if you substitute the yogurt for vegan yogurt.

Easy Moroccan Lamb Stew from The Mediterranean Dish

15 minutes of prep time and a couple of hours in the slow cooker and you will be able to enjoy a hearty and tasty Moroccan Lamb Stew.

Shakshouka - Moroccan Eggs Tagine from Eat Drink Paleo

Shakshouka is a popular breakfast dish in Middle Eastern countries and in North Africa but the Moroccan version is one of the best Shakshouka we tried and we think you are going to love it too.

 


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