Morocco is a feast for the senses! Food plays an important role in Moroccan life. The many stalls in the medina selling fresh meat and vegetables, sit side by side with other stalls displaying an incredible array of herbs and spices in rainbow colours.
In the main square in Marrakech, Djemaa El Fna, there are vendors selling anything you can imagine. Stalls selling freshly squeezed orange juice compete for space amongst the stalls of glossy dried fruits. At dusk, the smoke begins to rise from the many open-air restaurants which barbeque fresh ingredients.
At night, vendors with mobile trolleys laden with delicious sweets, that would not look out of place in a shop in Sydney, push their way through the crowds and tout their wares.
Beyond the hustle and bustle, there are some wonderful restaurants in Morocco. We also enjoyed lunch at the cafe in the Jardin Marjorelle, Marrakech, within the gorgeous gardens restored by Yves Saint Laurent. Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé discovered the Jardin Majorelle in 1966, during their first stay in Marrakech.
The restaurant ‘Pepenero cucina Italiana’ in Marrakech is also a delight. Lovely Italian food prepared with a Moroccan twist.
For a memorable dining experience, treat yourselves to dinner in one of the restaurants at La Mamounia. A grand Marrakech hotel in pure Moroccan style, which combines history and also luxury. La Mamounia is also home-away-from home to celebrities and movie stars, who are busy with the Moroccan film industry. Pre-dinner, stop to enjoy the musical quartet in the bar. After dining, stroll the acres of garden in the moonlight. Just perfect.
Moroccan food is incredibly diverse, thanks to the country’s interaction with other cultures and nations over the centuries. This includes the Berber, Moorish, Arab and also Mediterranean influences. Since Morocco lies on two coasts, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Moroccan cuisine has excellent seafood dishes.
A big part of the daily meal is bread. Bread in Morocco is principally made from durum wheat semolina known as khobz. Bakeries are very common throughout Morocco and fresh bread is a staple in every city, town and village. The most common is whole grain coarse ground or white flour bread and also baguettes. There are also a number of flat breads and unleavened pan-fried breads. We had the opportunity to visit a communal bakery, where locals bring their own bread to be baked in old stone ovens.
Usually, seasonal fruits rather than cooked desserts are served at the end of a Moroccan meal. A common dessert is “gazelle’s horns”, a pastry stuffed with almond paste and topped with sugar. Another is “Halwa chebakia”, pretzel-shaped dough deep-fried, soaked in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. We also visited several patisseries, where you select the pastries you would like to eat and sit down to enjoy them with a cup of tea. A delightful way to spend an hour in the midst of the chaos of shopping.
In Moroccan culture, mint tea is also served before and after meals and throughout the day. After a day haggling in the Souks, it is sweet and also refreshing.
Moroccan mint tea is drunk throughout the day. Even in the smallest stalls selling babouches (slippers), ceramics or linens, trays of steaming mint tea would materialise seemingly within minutes of our arrival. Mint tea is a welcoming aspect of Moroccan life, guaranteed to refresh you in the chaos of shopping in the medinas.
If the deal is a serious one, you’ll probably want to sit down over tea and talk about anything but the price of the goods you are considering.
We were also surprised to learn that Morocco is the world’s largest importer of green tea from China!
- 4 to 5 cups of water
- 1 x large bunch of fresh Spearmint (nb peppermint does not work as well)
- 1 tbsp of green tea (Gun Powder Tea is preferred and you can find it in oriental/chinese stores)
- 4 to 5 tablespoons of sugar
- Boil water. Only boiling water should be used.
- Place green tea in the teapot.
- Add 1/4 cup of boiling water, let it sit for 1/2 minute and then pour it out. This allows the tea leaves to open completely.
- Rinse the mint and add all the rinsed mint to the teapot, then add 4-5 tbsp of sugar (to taste).
- Top with boiling hot water and let it sit for another minute.
Pour out 1 full glass of hot mint tea and pour it back into the teapot. Repeat this twice to allow for the sugar to mix without breaking any mint leaves.
Breaking of mint leaves whilst mixing with a spoon will make the tea bitter.
To serve your Mint tea
Hold the teapot high above the glass, so that the tea ‘foams’ as it is poured into the tea glasses. This foam is called the “Tea Turbin” and it is believed that the larger the turbin, the better the tea!
However, it does take practise to pour tea from a height!
Fresh is Best
In Morocco, the key to cooking is “fresh is best”. Wander through the medina and marvel at the food carts filled to overflowing with fresh vegetables. Fresh herbs such as parsley, coriander and mint, are also used in abundance. Moroccan cooking is spicy and zesty but not overpowering. Cumin, turmeric, chilli, saffron and ginger, paprika, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon and also black pepper are the main spices used. Cumin is also used in almost every Moroccan dish and is considered so important that it is served on the table along with salt and pepper.
In our blog, we plan to introduce you to some Moroccan recipes to tantalise your tastebuds.
In conclusion, when enjoying a Moroccan meal at home, why not use the bold ceramics, beautiful plates and bowls, tagines and platters crafted in Morocco.
Caravanserai Trading Company have a selection of bold ceramics which we discovered in Fez. They are also a great choice for everyday dining and casual entertaining and are guaranteed to look terrific on any dining table. Choose from the brown and green clay ceramics with colourful designs crafted in Safi or also ceramics crafted from white clay in Fez. The choice is endless.
Whatever you eat in Morocco and wherever you enjoy a meal, we are also certain the experience will be a ‘Feast for the Senses’.