One of the many reasons travellers flock to Morocco is because it has a cuisine like no other – a heavenly combination of Mediterranean and African influences. Marrakech is packed with street food stalls and traditional restaurants, the perfect place for sampling all the culinary delights on offer. Although many travellers intend on tasting the real Morocco, few know what to look for when they arrive. Below are just some of the foods and drinks you should try while staying in this wonderful city…
Traditionally served as a starter, you can pick up these tasty snacks from street food vendors all over Marrakech. B’stilla originates from Fes, and is a kind of elaborate meat pie made up of layers of thin pastry, which are usually filled with chicken, eggs, almonds and plenty of spices. For the more adventurous, you can try the more traditional filling of either pigeon or offal.
Chebakia is a favourite sweet treat amongst locals – a sesame cookie fried before being coated with masses of honey or syrup. These are especially popular during Ramadan, and can easily be bought by street vendors (factory-made versions just don’t compare).
A symbol of friendship and hospitality all over Morocco, mint tea is the drink of choice, and can be seen being sipped by folks young and old outside cafes. It is usually served heavily sweetened, served from a teapot steeped with sprigs of spearmint, and you’ll find people drinking it all times of the day from after lunch to winding down after a long day.
Easily available from the stalls in the Jemma el-Fna, you may be hesitant to try snails at first, but once you smell the rich aroma of the broth, you’ll want to dive right in. Bursting with flavour and spice, the broth coats the distinctive chocolate brown snails which bring their own special savoury taste.
Following Ramadan, the fast is often broken with a steaming bowl of harira soup, which is packed full of tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils and lamb. Finished off with lemon juice and some chopped coriander for an extra kick, harira is often served with the previously mentioned favourite, chebakia.
Tagine is an already well-known Moroccan dish, and many travellers will have already tried a lamb or chicken tagine. If you’re in Marrakech, however, you should definitely try a kefta tagine – a combination of lamb or beef mince combined into meatballs with fresh coriander, parsley and cinnamon. These tasty meatballs are then cooked in a rich tomato and onion sauce, and just before serving, eggs are cracked into the sauce, cooking to perfection.
Couscous is the staple dish of Morocco. You’ll find it served with almost every savoury dish. Made from steam and dried durum wheat, you’ll find it often quite filling by itself, with a tangy taste flavoured by a range of spices and vegetable pieces.
The perfect on-the-go snack as you explore the streets of inner Marrakech, ma’qooda are deep-fried potato balls which can have anything added to them from spicy harissa sauce to a fried egg. All of this deliciousness is then stuffed into a sandwich, creating a filling snack which is super cheap and incredibly easy to find on the streets of Marrakech.
Where to stay
If you’re seeking out a stay in one of our luxury hotels, Marrakech hosts some of our favourites, from quiet retreats in the desert to lavish riads providing an escape from the hustle and bustle of the heart of the city.
Images: Kimberly Vardeman, Olve Utne, Miansari66, Nathalie_r, available under Creative Commons