Six must-try dishes in Marrakech
Marrakech is a multi-cultural city where you can find virtually every cuisine on offer. But when you travel here it is essential to experience some of the delectable local cuisine that you can find on every corner café or street food stall. From spice-infused meat stews to traditional flaky pastry pies, the variety is incredible and the flavours are to die for. Here are six must-try dishes that Marrakech does best.
The tagine (sometimes spelled tajine) is undoubtedly one of the most famous traditional dishes you will find in Marrakech. You will see it on the menu of just about every local restaurant across the city. The term ‘tagine’ actually refers to the cooking vessel, a clay pot. A stew itself is created using a mix of meat, chicken or fish along with vegetables and fruit. The condensation from the stew rises during the cooking process, then drops back down so the dish retains its moisture.
While you could head to any of the fantastic restaurants the city has to offer, tagine is best experienced in its natural environment – a Moroccan family home. Many traditional Marrakech properties have been converted into riads which serve as guest accommodation, and a large number of these have their own kitchen with skilled chefs preparing dishes. Visit El Zohar, the best riad in Marrakech for traditional Moroccan dining for a taste of a truly authentic tagine.
Visiting Marrakech, there is a huge variety of restaurants aimed at tourists with tastes from around the world. But if you’re more interested in trying something that the locals eat, it doesn’t get more traditional than zaalouk. Zaalouk is a simple dip consisting of roasted aubergine, tomatoes, garlic and a blend of spices. If you are finding yourself struggling to get out of the routine of visiting tourist restaurants, why not try a food tour of the city? This can be a fantastic way to experience foods like zaalouk and others.
Many assume that tagine is the national dish of Morocco due to its prevalence and popularity – officially, however, couscous is the country’s national dish. Traditionally eaten on Fridays, couscous is also very common on occasions such as a weddings, funerals and Ramadan feasts. The dish is highly flavoursome, served with a stew featuring mix of vegetables and meat on the top. You will be spoiled for choice in Marrakech – nearly all restaurants serving local fare will have it on offer.
Although it originated in Fez, B’stilla has become a delicacy all across Morocco. You will likely find it advertised with a multitude of spellings (bastella, pastilla, etc.) but it all means the same thing – something of a hybrid of a pastry and a pie, it brings together a surprising mix of salty and sweet flavours. Traditionally cooked with pigeon or chicken, the pie is flavoured with almonds and spices and topped with icing sugar. Also popular in Marrakech cafes is an entirely sweet version of the dish, known as a jawhara (or pastilla with milk).
The market at Djemaa el-Fna square might well be the best place in Marrakech to sample Moroccan street food. And one of the most popular dishes is the ubiquitous makouda; deep-fried potato balls that can be eaten on their own with a spicy harissa sauce or as the filling of a sandwich. It’s definitely worth scouring the market for the range of different options that you can find here. There is everything from kebabs and calamari to grilled sardines and more.
Although similarly named, the tanjia is a different dish from the tagine. Like a tagine, the dish is named after the pot that it is cooked in. A tanjia is a stew that is cooked in a tall pot that is filled with a mixture of either beef, lamb or chicken along with a range of fragrant spices and preserved lemon. The top of the pot is covered with butcher’s paper and then cooked for up to eight hours. This is a real speciality of Marrakech that was traditionally prepared at home or created by local butchers who would slow roast the dish over the coals that heat the local hammams in the Medina.