Considered as one of the most diversified and sumptuous food, Moroccan cuisine offers a delightful experience. There primary reason contributed to the diverse Moroccan food is it’s interaction with the outside world for centuries. Food in Morocco has blended different cuisines from different cultures like Moorish, Arab, Middle Eastern, Berber, Jewish, Iberian and Mediterranean African.
Over different historical eras and centuries the Moroccan cuisine was refined by the highly capable cooks of the royal kitchens in Meknes, Fez, Marrakech, Tetouan and Rabat. This refined cuisine laid the base for the modern Moroccan cuisine.
History of Moroccan Cuisine
Morocco has been at the crossroad of different civilizations, which has greatly influenced Moroccan food. Today you will even find some of the best Moroccan recipes over the internet but the truth is that nothing tastes like the Moroccan spices. It is said that the history of Morocco can be seen reflected in their cuisine. People and tribes from different parts of the world has come to Morocco and settled here, which has led to creation of a blended cuisine that has many different flavors. There was a time when political refugees came all the way from Baghdad, Iraq during the Middle Ages to settle in Morocco. They brought their local recipes, which have since become a part of the traditional Moroccan cuisine. One of the signature characteristics of this type of blended recipe is where fruit is cooked with meat like apricots with chicken.
Moroccan food has also been influenced greatly by Morisco or the Muslim refugees who were thrown out of Spain preceding the Spanish inquisition. An important part of Moroccan cuisine is the ingredients used. Since Morocco produces Mediterranean vegetables and fruits, they are used in the preparation of different Moroccan recipes. Poultry, cattle and fish is also found in abundance in Morocco and hence they have become an integral part of the country’s cuisine.
Food in Morocco can’t do without the Moroccan spices. One of the biggest markets in Morocco for spices is at Agadir and you can find different types of spices used as an ingredient for rendering a different taste. These spices are used in all Moroccan recipes and render a taste that will remain with you for a lifetime.
Some of the popular Moroccan spices include saffron that came from Tiliouine, olive and mint came from Meknes, while lemons and oranges came from Fez. Some of the common spices were also home grown like kamoun (cumin), karfa (cinnamon), kharkoum (tumeric), libzar (pepper) , skingbir (ginger), tahmira (paprika), sesame seed, anis seed, kasbour (coriander), zaafrane beldi (saffron) and maadnous (parsley).
The Great Moroccan Meal
You have to really taste the tanginess and the spicy flavors of the Moroccan cuisine to understand why it is so popular across the world. The most important part of the Moroccan cuisine is the midday meal. A Moroccan mid day meal will start with hot and cold salads, followed by tagine. Bread is the staple food in every mid day meal. This is followed by a chicken or lamb dish and then a dish of couscous topped with vegetable and meat. At the end of the meal, you will get to drink a cup of sweet mint tea, which is a part of their tradition.
Couscous is the main Moroccan dish and is considered to be of Berber origin. The most commonly consumed form of meat is beef although lamb is also preferred but costs more than beef. There is also a growing importance for seafood and it is slowly becoming an important part of Moroccan cuisine. Some of the popular as well as famous Moroccan food recipes include Pastilla, Couscous, Tajine, Harira and Tanjia. Although Harira is a soup, but it is an important part of the Moroccan cuisine and is consumed mostly during the holy months of Ramadan.
Where you have rich food laced with Moroccan spices, you will definitely have Desserts. Desserts in Morocco don’t necessarily have to be sweet although the sweeter it is, the better it will be. One of the common desserts is the kaab el ghzal or gazelle's horns. Of course that’s just a name and you won’t get to eat any real horns. Kaab el ghzal is a type of pastry with sugar toppings that is stuffed with almond paste. Honey cakes are extremely popular too and they are prepared by deep frying dough and then dipping them in hot honey and finally sesame seeds are sprinkled on the top.
Moroccan cuisine has a lot of variety and also include drinks (Mint Tea) and snacks apart from their mid day meal and to feel the real flavor of spice, you will have to taste their traditional food.
Moe Tamani is an importer of Tagines and an aficionado of Moroccan Tagines.
http://www.themoroccanbazaar.com/shop.php/moroccan-cooking/cooking-tagine/c_54.html Moroccan recipes
By Moe Tamani
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