Cultured Palate: Dishes from Morocco

Morocco is a country that has been influenced by many different cultures over its long history. Their cuisine is a reflection of this cultural melting pot. Mediterranean influences mix with Arabic, Berber, and Subsaharan ingredients to create flavorful taste profile that’s fresh, earthy, and spicy. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a formal meal in a Moroccan’s home, you’ll be treated to a parade of both hot and cold salads, followed by dish after dish of delicately spiced meats, vegetables, and couscous.

If you’re traveling to Morocco on your next trip, here’s a list of some amazing Moroccan dishes that you should watch out for.

1. B’ssara

B’ssara is a soup made of dried fava beans, and is one of the cheapest things that you can buy in Morocco. It’s often called Morocco’s four-dirham snack, which is the equivalent of about 50 American cents.

B’ssara is popular throughout Morocco as a breakfast dish or as a simple, easy snack. It originated in Northern Morocco, and is usually garnished with paprika, to give a dash of spice to a dish that’s otherwise quite mild. Buy it on the street, and make sure to get a side of bread to sop up every last drop.

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2. Harira

Another popular Moroccan soup is harira. In fact, it’s achieved such popularity that many people have declared it Morocco’s national soup.

Harira is often served as a starter at formal meals, but is most frequently enjoyed during Ramadan, as a way to break the day-long fast. It’s a vegetable soup made of primarily tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, and rice that contains egg and a bit of stewing meat for extra protein. Depending on your preference, it can be served with bread, hard-boiled eggs, or dried fruit on the side. It’s one of the most common dishes enjoyed in both Morocco and neighboring Algeria.

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3. Maakouda

Like many popular snack foods, maakouda can be found everywhere. They’re easy to make at home, but even easier to pick up from a vendor on the street.

Maakouda are spiced potato fritters that have been dipped in whipped egg whites before being fried to a crisp. They’re flavored with parsley, which elevates a potentially heavy and greasy dish with its fresh flavor and aroma. You’ll find them on the menu at most restaurants, and although they’re usually served as an appetizer, they make an indulgent meal on their own stuffed between a few slices of crusty bread, accompanied by a smear of harissa for a kick of spice.