Moroccan cuisine is far and away from that of its Arab neighbors drawing influences from Berber and French traditions. There are a few dishes that every Moroccan holds sacred and at the heart of most all of them is Khubz, or a flat loaf of bread coated in semolina grain. Khubz is your fork, knife and spoon at a Moroccan table, used to break off pieces of meat, pick up stray veggies and scoop up the sauce of a tajin.
Tajin is actually the name of the clay crock-pot like dish that is used cook the obligatory lunchtime meal by the same name. Tajin can come in many varieties, but some common tajins include red meat with plums and a yellow turmeric sauce, or chicken with olives, carrots, potatoes and the like, but most things you might expect in stew can be put into a tajin (and then some!) Tajin is always placed in the center of the table and eaten with the right hand only. You are entitled to the triangle of the dish that lies directly in front of you and everything in it, except for the meat which is usually gathered in the middle and distributed to each person about ½ – ¾ of the way through eating the meal. Bones are viewed as a treat and often sucked dry of their juices during the last phases of the meal. Tajin is always followed up with apples, bananas, oranges, or the Moroccan favorite, pomegranates for dessert.
Couscous, like Tajin is also a specialty dish of Moroccans, placed in the middle of the table and this time usually eaten directly with hands after being crafted into a ball with various vegetables that might include turnips, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, or a pumpkin-like gord. Couscous is almost invariably eaten on Fridays (the Islamic holy day) and is typically an occasion to have over family or other guests. Couscous day has become my favorite day of the week, and I always add the special sauce (or Marqa) in which the vegetables and meat are initially cooked. It’s usually served with Libn, of which buttermilk is the closest equivalent. I’m told it’s an acquired taste…
Most Morccans don’t have regular access to cheese, but the closest equivalent Laughing Cow “cheese” is widely available since it doesn’t need to be refrigerated (which is why I put the quotes around cheese). It’s a breakfast staple food eaten savory with olive oil, and sweet with jam or honey (or often some combination of the 3).
Other commonalities in Morocco include Harrira, a tomato based soup with lots of veggies, legumes and often meat. It’s thicker than a regular veggie soup and viewed with all the same wholesomeness that we view chicken noodle. Lubiya or white beans braised in sauce is another common item at any Moroccan restaurant (probably more accurately characterized as a café in most cases). Other common items you might find are fries (sometimes atop a tajin) often eaten with Mayo (and for good reason if you ask me). Or, of course, Moroccan mint tea. Mint tea is actually not purely an herbal tea and is usually brewed with green tea leaves as well and served with plenty of sugar. Other popular herbs used in tea include Absinthe (Sheba) or Louiza (Verbena) that has a light lemony flavor.
Another interesting note is that Moroccans normally have 4 meals in the day with a meal consisting almost exclusively of baked goods (depending on the region) called Kaskaroot which often includes tea, and then forms of bread of tea cookies with assorted accompaniments such as Amalou which is described in the video.
As always if you have any further question please let me know, and thanks for joining me for my first (self-brewed) real Moroccan Mint tea!