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Due to its fertile land and pleasant climate Morocco is able to produce some of the best fruit and vegetables you will ever taste. The gateway to Africa and a trading post for spices with its Berber and Arabian heritage and French influences cuisine in Morocco is truly unique and some of the best in the world. With hundreds of miles of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, you will get great seafood anywhere along the coast.
Spices feature heavily and more so than say Lebanese or Egyptian food. You can expect dishes to contain cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, saffron, ginger and pepper. Mint, coriander, lemon, orange and prunes also feature heavily in various dishes. Being a Moslem country pork is not on the menu, though it can be purchased from the Marjane supermarket, but is very expensive when compared to prices in Europe. If you see "ham" on a menu it will be turkey ham.
The most famous dish is couscous, a semolina which is steamed. Bear in mind that couscous in Morocco tastes far better than any instant cous-cous purchased in the UK or Europe. In Morocco a cook will spend several hours preparing the couscous, firstly steaming, then breaking up the semolina by hand with butter and olive oil, before steaming and doing the whole process three times. Couscous is traditionally served on Friday. The couscous is covered in a lightly spiced broth with vegetables and meat. Cous-Cous Royale is usually a combination of both lamb and beef or sausages. It can also contain chicken, lamb, rabbit or even camel. Often you will receive a dish of the broth to add to the couscous.
Tagine or Tajine is a traditional Berber clay cooking pot. The tagine comes in two parts. The clay pot with its cone shaped lid. This helps the contents steam. The second part is the base which the tagine sits on whilst cooking usually on charcoal. If purchasing a tagine dish for use make sure that it has a metal strip surround the top to help stop the tagine from cracking in high temperatures. Many dishes that are sold are simply for decorative use, if you want one for cooking do check.
There are many different tagines but is usually a thick stew of meat with vegetables and spices. There are many receipes and everyone cook will have their favourite, Some to look out for include chicken with lemon and olives. The preserved lemon add a real punch to the dish. Kefta tagine is meatballs with coriander, usually an egg is also cooked in the dish. Beef with prunes and mixed vegetables with big chunks of pumpkin and turnip. You eat a tagine with bread and it is a commual pot with everyone eating from the dish with their hands. There is strict ettiquette when it comes to eating commually. You only take food from your section and your host will push meat to your section of the dish. Only use your right hand to pick up food from the pot. Often your Moroccan host will provide a fork since Europeans aren't good at eating with fingers.
Harira is a typical soup which is served in many cafes and can be purchased very cheaply. The soup consists of tomato, lentils, chickpeas, onion with a small amount of meat stock usually lamb or beef. Coriander, ginger, cumin are added to spice the soup up. It is often served with a wedge of lemon or lime which adds punch to the soup. It is delicious and every Moroccan will be able to direct you to where in town makes the best harira.
Bastela in Berber also known as Pasilla or Bastilla is a meat pie traditionally made with pigeons but can be made with lamb or chicken. The pie contains layers of both sweet and savoury and is usually served as a starter or a special occasion. The pastry is very thin, similar to puff pastry. The pie is usually dusted in cinnamon and is considered a real treat.
With the abundance of fruit and vegetables which grow throughout the country Moroccan salads are excellent and play an important role in every meal. Olive oil and vinegar is a common dressing.
Bread is a staple in Morocco and is eaten at every meal and is a round loaf and usually is covered in semolina. It is usually white. With the French influence excellent baguettes can be purchased everywhere.
Moroccans have a sweet tooth, but desserts within a home will usually be fresh fruit or maybe sweet pastries. kaab el ghzal translates to gazelle horns and these are sweet pastries filled with almond paste and coated in sugar. Another popular dessert is orange segments with rosewater. French influence has left Morocco with great patisserie's where you can get wonderful cakes and sweets. Ice cream is also a popular dessert and you will find a great selection of ice-cream sellers in the towns and on the beaches.