If you are ever at Morocco, there are 8 dishes you want to treat your taste buds to. Here they are.
In the villages between Marrakech and the Berber mountains, there exists a fantastic flat bread called ‘tafernout’. It is baked in a clay oven on a bed of pebbles or medium-sized stones. This method of cooking helps distribute the heat evenly, yielding a beautiful texture to the bread, and allowing it to get an evenly brown hue.
The bread is served straight from the oven, usually with a burning-hot pebble stick still stuck to one of its dimples. It used to be that ‘tafernout’ was only available in the most remote villages. Nowadays, its popularity is such that you can find it in nearly every roadside restaurant in the South.
Mint tea is ubiquitous in Morocco. It is served with every meal, or on its own for a bit of refreshment. It is also used to celebrate life’s milestones, be it weddings, births or religious holidays. As the tea is usually consumed in large gatherings, it is typically prepared in a communal teapot using gunpowder green tea and sugar cubes.
Alternately, it can be sweetened with a generous piece of colonial sugar cone, which is believed to taste better than granulated sugar. The tea is often served in an engraved metal tray with small, ornate glasses boasting intricate designs.
Eggplant tagine mderbel
Fan of eggplant? This comforting ragout is for you. Meat (usually beef or lamb) is braised in a sauce of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. The concoction is then smothered in delicately spiced eggplants that have been roasted or fried.
The spices used vary by region, and slightly different versions can be found throughout North Africa. Like all tagines, this one is best enjoyed very warm and with good bread to scoop up the deliciousness.
Baghrir: Moroccan pancakes
‘Baghrir,’ aka, ‘thousand-hole pancakes’ are an almost lacy delectable that is typically served for breakfast during religious holidays (though it makes for a nice accompaniment to mid-afternoon tea). The presence of holes on the surface is due to a yeasted batter that has been allowed to ferment before cooking.
‘Baghir’ are traditionally topped with a warm sauce of melted butter and honey that gets completely soaked up into the holes, yielding moist, pleasantly soggy pancakes. Chopped nuts and dried fruits make an excellent garnish for these time-honored favorites.
Zaalouk: Roasted eggplant salad
This warm salad is made with roasted, grilled or fried eggplants generously seasoned with garlic, cumin and chili powder, then cooked in a thick tomato sauce to yield a very savory jam. It is typically served as a side to a tagine or grilled kebabs and enjoyed with warm flat bread. Roasted spicy peppers are sometimes added for more smokiness and a very tasty kick.
One of the most popular forms of couscous is a version served with seven vegetables. This dish is traditionally enjoyed on Fridays after midday prayer. There are also sweeter variations featuring raisins, caramelized onions, cinnamon and almonds. These tend to be served on holidays and at various ceremonies.
‘Chebbakia’ are fragrant cookies made with toasted sesame seeds and flavored with saffron, orange blossom water, olive oil and cinnamon. The unique flower-shaped cookies are fried, bathed in a pot of warm honey until shiny and sticky, then sprinkled with sesame seeds or chopped almonds.
These sweets make for a popular Ramadan treat, and are typically enjoyed at a sunset meal during fasting season. At that time, pyramids of glistening, heady-smelling ‘chebbakia’ are found in every market. Luckily, one can find them in smaller quantities at various bakeries throughout the year.
Meatball and egg tagine
Tagine of meatballs (‘kefta’) is a popular family-style meal. The meatballs are seasoned with paprika and cumin, shaped into bite-sized balls and cooked in a savory tomato sauce. Eggs are the most common topping for this dish but vegetables such as potatoes, carrots or peas can be braised in the sauce alongside the meatballs.
Article culled from www.edition.cnn.com
Photo Credit: Nisrine Merzouki