Moroccan kitchen; excellent for every vegetarian!

When you think of Morocco, you think of tagines and couscous. And let yourself be able to make excellent vegetarian dishes with that! Moroccan cuisine has a nice selection of vegetarian tagines and couscous. The variety options are impressive and the food is healthy, fresh, full of vegetables, without artificial additives and deliciously flavored with special products such as pickled lemon and spices. Morocco also has a number of special customs and eating habits. We would like to discuss the most characteristic with you below:
• The main meal in Morocco is lunch, except during Ramadan when the main meal is moved to the time of sunset. Usually that meal consists of a tagine, couscous or “Salad Maroc”.
• When you are in Morocco you will regularly find “Salad Maroc” on the menu. At first you could think of a salad, with green lettuce and raw chopped vegetables, however … make no mistake: Salad Maroc is a collection of a kind of Moroccan mezze, often consisting of spiced carrots, courgettes, potatoes, lentils in red sauce and their own version of baba ganoush with bread. Great! In Morocco this is a kind of starter followed by couscous or tagine, but trust me: this is more than enough for you!
• Moroccan cuisine smells and tastes like it is because of the many spices. Think especially of cumin, paprika, saffron, mint, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cardamom and pepper.
• In Morocco a lot of use is made of dried fruit, especially dates, figs and apricots. These can be found in both sweet and savory dishes.
• Fun fact: a date filled with a walnut is a standard part of the bridal gift.
• Couscous is the most important dish in Moroccan cuisine. The name is given to both the dish and the product itself. The dish is known and loved throughout the Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya). In Morocco, couscous is always eaten on Fridays with the whole family after everyone has been to the mosque. In Morocco, couscous is not a matter of 10 minutes soaking, it takes no less than 4 hours to make this dish: by hand, kneading and soaking, and with a lot of love and attention.
• Another famous dish is tagine (see also other “Aziz narrated” blogs), named after the famous earthenware stew shaped like a round pyramid. It is served with many variations, including a vegetarian version with stewed vegetables. The tagine is perhaps the most seen cooking instrument in Morocco, everyone has one or more at home. It works like a kind of oven: on the gas stove, the vegetables are automatically cooked in it without you having to do anything.
• Tea is also an important part of Moroccan cuisine. The Moroccans love their tea: strong green tea, with mint in it and a good amount of sugar. The tea is poured from a great height, not only for show, especially because the real Moroccan tea must “foam” after pouring. Summer or winter, morning or evening, Moroccan tea is always drunk.
• The famous Moroccan almond cookies: Fekkas (or Fekkes, feqs) are typically Moroccan almond biscuits, originally from the Rif Mountains in Morocco. Like rusk, they are baked twice. Besides almonds, the cookies also contain flour, sugar, mazhar (rose water) and some spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Fekkas are regularly served as a dessert along with Tuareg tea. They are also served at weddings, baby parties and on religious holidays such as the Sugar Feast and the Sacrifice Feast. The biscuits were created by the Berber tribes in the Rif Mountains as food to keep for a long time. The ingredients were easy to get and the dry composition kept the cookies good for a long time.
• A well-known export product from Morocco is Argan Oil, also known in the Netherlands as Moroccan Oil. In Morocco, this is used for both food and cosmetic purposes. For this, the Argan nut is double shelled, after which it looks like a kind of almond. Then it is ground or roasted for the culinary oil. A very nice natural beauty product!
• Hospitality is very important in the Moroccan culture. If you’re ever in Morocco and have the opportunity to wander around, don’t be surprised if a family asks you to come in for tea and eat a typical Moroccan pancake. How nice is that! It is striking that it is culturally determined that the host or hostess will always encourage you to eat and drink more, as respect for you as a guest. So you always go home with a full stomach. That experience of Moroccan hospitality and the rich culinary culture… I can wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone!                                                     
                                                                                                                        Aziz Ouchan

This post is also available in: Dutch