Moroccan Food: Best 25 Moroccan Dishes w/ Recipes
The Moroccan table is adorned with unique and varied dishes that highlight the country’s rich cultural heritage, making it one of the most famous international cuisines.
Dishes differ from one region to another in Morocco, as each area is characterized by specific dishes which reflect its history and customs. Some dishes are prepared according to special rituals or only for celebrations.
Since ancient times, the Kingdom has been a land of coexistence of several civilizations and cultures. Moroccan food culture encompasses dishes of Berber, Arabic, Jewish, Andalusian, African, and Maghrebi origins.
Experts stress that preparing most Moroccan meals depends on fresh vegetables and fruits, natural oils, and authentic spices, noting that all these ingredients are nutritious as well as delicious.
Moroccan cuisine is among the most famous worldwide, as it consistently ranks alongside French and Italian cuisines. We’ve selected the following as are Morocco’s top 25 popular dishes, so enjoy this sample of what Morocco has to offer your taste buds!
Tagine is made from spiced vegetables cooked with light broth, accompanied by meat, chicken, or fish. All ingredients are placed inside heavy pottery vessels called “tagine.”
Tagines have a clay cover to distribute the heat from the top to the whole pot. This ensures a healthy and slow cooking process until all the ingredients are infused with the flavor-laden steam and the meat melts off the bones. It’s a true pleasure to sample a homemade tagine, especially when some lemon is added to impart an exceptional taste.
The secret of the tastiness of tagine lies in the spices used when cooking: cornflowers, ginger, saffron, onions, and garlic. These are the essential ingredients that give the tagine its taste.
Insider tip: tagine is never eaten without bread to mop up every last drop of the liquid.
Couscous is a popular traditional Moroccan staple, which is almost always served on Fridays as most Moroccan households prepare on this ‘sacred’ day to enjoy after prayers.
You’ll also find couscous at every special occasion in Morocco, including marriages, funerals, and sacred feasts. It is usually steamed and added to meat, vegetables, green pulverized beans, milk, butter, and refined sugar, according to tastes and occasions.
There are many ways to prepare couscous depending, but the most popular versions are made with ‘the so-called ‘seven vegetables’: pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, white and yellow turnips, cabbage, and onions. Some regions also include lentils or white beans.
So important is couscous in North African food culture that In 2019, the countries of the Maghreb (Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, and Tunisia) made a joint demand to UNESCO, asking it to consider this popular dish as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. In 2020, it was accorded this prestigious accolade.
A Tanjia (also spelt tangia) is a dish of lamb or beef, with which the spices are mixed and cooked in the same clay pot and buried under hot ash to cook slowly.
Tangia is always associated with Marrakech, as it’s the city’s most iconic dish. Prized for its unique taste and incredible flavor, it is often prepared in Marrakech’s traditional ‘Farran’ (bakeries). These traditional bakeries often get crowded, especially during religious feasts when demand is extra high.
Interestingly, tangia is a distinctively ‘male’ dish, considered men’s ‘sacred’ companion on their excursions! Especially in Ramadan and spring holidays, men gather together to enjoy it in gardens and orchards. Traditionally, women rarely prepare Tangia.
4. Fried Chicken
Fried chicken is one of those basic dishes that Moroccans have relied on since ancient times. It can be the principle dish that is served on special occasions, such as weddings, birth parties, circumcision, and other celebrations.
What makes it uniquely Moroccan is that it is served with olives, sour and sometimes hot peppers.
Trotters are lamb and cow’s feet cooked with hot spices and served with hummus. Their broth tastes of garlic and vinegar, and it is rich in fats, protein, and vitamins. It is advised to eat trotters a couple of times a month as their composition – high-calorie and high in fats – is said to require the body to invest a lot of energy in its digestion process.
In Moroccan society, many people traditionally tended to prefer fatty, high-calorie dishes, to compensate for the energy they lose after the long and tiring work days or to heat them up on cold winter days. Trotters are popular throughout the country, and, they say, whoever wants to strengthen his bones should eat them. Well, at least everyone should try them once!
The ancient and imperial city of Fez is famous for its bazaars and narrow streets. It’s also the home of many traditional Moroccan dishes and pastela is one of the most prized.
It is somewhat challenging to prepare, but is worth the effort as it’s a strong competitor to some other well-known Moroccan dishes, such as tagine, in terms of flavor and ingredients.
In the city of Fez, you’ll find it prepared with chicken and pigeons. In contrast, it is prepared with fish and seafood in the north of Morocco. At the same time, in the southern parts, such as Rachidia, it has another variation that looks like bread and is called ‘al-Madfuna’.
Rfisa is a family dish par excellence, prepared for family reunions and religious occasions, known in Morocco as “Zarda”. It’s a mouthwatering dish of stewed chicken, lentils, and onions served on a bed of shredded msemen, trid pastry or any kind of bread. An aromatic broth is poured over everything as the finishing touch
This dish is prepared primarily to celebrate the arrival of a new baby because it contains healthy, beneficial, and milk-producing ingredients such as fenugreek, lentils and special spices such as ras al hanout.
Zaalouk is a distinctive Moroccan dish made with fried and grilled eggplant and two hot and sweet pepper varieties, according to mood and the chef.
It is often served as a salad, especially in winter, when Moroccans prefer cooked salads to raw alterntives. It is known in some countries in the Middle East as “Baba Ghanouj”.
Harira is a traditional soup that Moroccans enjoy all year round. It’s popularly used to break the fast during the sacred month of Ramadan.
Harira is among the most complete dishes in the Moroccan culinary canon. It can contain many ingredients, including pastries, lentils, herbs, tomatoes, and more.
Every component is packed with nutrition. For example, lentils and chickpeas are abundant in proteins and healthy carbs, providing the body with energy. It is also rich in mineral salts and vitamins, especially vitamin D, found in coriander, parsley, and celery, not to mention the vitamins in tomatoes that are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.
Bisara is made from dried crushed fava beans. They are peeled and cooked in water with various local vegetables, spices, and olive oil. It is served hot with barley or wheat bread, at lunch, dinner, and in some regions, for breakfast.
Saffa is a steamed couscous-like dish. It may be based on vermicelli, rice, or any type of pasta. For saffa with chicken, each component is prepared separately.
The grain or pasta is cooked in the usual way, while the chicken is prepared with spices and aromatics. When served, the chicken is buried under the saffa and the dish is garnished with powdered sugar and cinnamon, giving it a unique Moroccan twist.
12. Meat with Prunes
Meat with prunes is a dish served on most special occasions and celebrations in every region in Morocco. The prunes add a distinctive flavor to the meat because of their distinct sweet and sour taste.
13. Moroccan Cured and Dried Meat – Gueddid
Gueddid is meat preserved by drying, either by putting it under the sun for a week or so or on a charcoal fire. These traditional methods of preserving meat are found in tribal cultures worldwide.
Preserving meat is a Moroccan custom that follows the cutting off the meat of the sacrificed animal on the third day of the ‘Eid Al Adha’, the biggest feast in the Islamic world. Women collect the meat slices in large containers, sprinkle them with salt and spices, mix them well, and leave them for some time so that the spices seep into them.
After washing the intestines well, the women collect the meat cuts and tie them to the bowel strips to make them into balls of different sizes. The end result is sometimes served with couscous and rfisa.
14. Fried Sardines
Moroccans have a distinctive approach when it comes to preparing sardines. First, the fish is purified and washed with vinegar. Then coriander, minced garlic, cumin, salt, seed, ginger, and sweet red pepper are mixed with lemon juice and a spoonful of oil.
The fish are arranged, and covered with some of the mixture. They are then dusted with flour to prevent them sticking to the pan or each other and fried in boiling oil. This dish is usually accompanied by lentils or zaalouk.
Tkalia with chickpeas is a 100% traditional Moroccan dish, prepared for feasts, weddings and lunch on the second day of Eid al-Adha in certain regions.
Anyone who loves lamb will adore it as it uses various parts of the animal (guts, lungs, fat, and stomach) that are not so often prepared, in addition to chickpeas, and of course, those authentic Moroccan spices.
16. Steamed Head Flesh
This dish is traditionally served on the second day of Eid al-Adha, although it is available all year round. The head of the lamb is cooked or steamed, just like couscous. However, different ingredients and spices are added.
This delicacy is cherished by Moroccans and it’s also something that daring tourists love to sample. It is the most famous dish served in the Jamaâ El Fna Square in Marrakech where locals name it ‘Bawlo’.
Moroccan Khliaa is one of the most famous traditional dishes in the Maghreb. It is offered during the New Year celebrations or Eid al-Adha. This dish is prepared by drying well-salted meat in the sunlight for several days. After that, seasonings and aromatics are added. The meat is then placed in glass bottles for a month.
After this, it is used to accompany several traditional dishes, eaten as it is, or added to an omelets. It is one of the typical ingredients from the Moroccan cities of Fez and Marrakech.
Bulfaf is one of the most traditional dishes that Moroccans love to serve at weddings, birth celebrations and circumcision parties. It is called “Bulfaf” because it consists of pieces of liver and lung wrapped with fat and grilled on charcoal.
It is customary for bulfaf to be the first dish served after the lamb is sacrificed on the first day of Eid Al Adha.
19. Kidney Beans, Lentils, and Chickpeas
Traditionally, these ingredients were regarded as ‘saviors’ in case the household ran out of meat and vegetables (or money!). They are not only highly nutritious, but being so rich in fiber, a great way to add bulk to a smaller meal and make it more filling. Over time these foods have gained a special significance in the Moroccan diet.
Nowadays, these simple foods are considered some of Morocco’s most-loved staples. The cold winter days witness a high rise in their consumption, in contrast to the summer when they are considered too heavy on the stomach on those scorching hot days.
20. Berkuksch or Berkoux
This tasty and popular traditional soup has simple ingredients, and Berber origins. It is made with large couscous grains similar to pearl pasta, and takes some work to prepare.
Berkoux has become a modern staple on special occasions, such as marriages. Moroccans prepare it in various ways. Some like it with bacon and vegetables, and others serve it with ‘Amlou’ (made from amends and olive or Argan oil), and it can also be found made with milk and butter.
Chebakia is one of the oldest known desserts in Moroccan cuisine. It is considered indispensable in the month of Ramadan and is typically enjoyed with mint tea (also a Moroccan staple) or harira.
It has a distinctive shape, and is covered with honey and sesame seeds. The name Chebakia comes from the way the dough is carefully arranged in an ascending spiral and drenched with anise and honey.
Msemen is a crunchy Moroccan bread made from layers of thin semolina dough and butter. Some people eat it with soft cheese, jam, or olive oil.
These little squares are popular snacks as part of a delicious breakfast or afternoon treat with a cup of refreshing mint tea.
This is a round-shaped, spongy bread prepared with flour or semolina and water, left for hours to ferment and then poured over a hot skillet until browned. When properly cooked, it is filled with small holes, like a crumpet.
The most popular way to eat baghrir in Morocco is to dip it in a mixture of butter and honey, but it can also be served with jam.
Sallo, Al-Sfouf, Al-Tquawt or Al-Zumaita are all names used for this desert that has always been associated with the month of Ramadan and happy occasions, such as weddings, birth celebrations, etc.
It is made with roasted nuts, flour, sugar, and oil or butter.. These ingredients are rich in beneficial nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, fibers, and sugars. While sugar is not typically regarded as ‘healthy’ , it nourishes the body and restores energy lost during the long hours of fasting, especially for people who suffer from thinness or loss of appetite.
Harsha is a Moroccan staple prepared from semolina, oil, salt, and yeast, that are mixed and cooked in a hot frying pan. This simple comfort food is very popular and is sold in most, if not all, shops, cafes, and even in modern bakeries. It’s ideal when you just need something fast to stave off hunger pangs.
Did you find your favorite Moroccan food on our list? Let us know which ones you love most, and if you have more suggestions for our community to try, we’d love to hear them!