Moroccan cuisine is very diverse, with many influences due to the interaction of Morocco with the outside world for centuries. It has a mix of Berber, Moorish, Mediterranean, and Arab influences.
The cooks in the royal kitchens refined Moroccan cuisine over the centuries and created the basis for what is known as Moroccan cuisine today. Spices such as cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin and parsley, are widely used all over the Country. Chicken or lamb, along with bread, accompanied with cold and hot salads and vegetables are popular all over Morocco. Beef is another common ingredient. Fresh couscous with chickpeas and vegetables is a delicacy enjoyed by the people of Morocco.
The midday meal is the main meal, with the exception of the holy month of Ramadan. This typically begins with a series of hot and cold salads, followed by a Tagine. Among the most famous Moroccan dishes are Couscous, Pastilla (also spelled Bsteeya or Bestilla), Tagine, Tanjia and Harira. Although the latter is a soup, it is considered as a dish in itself and is served as such or with dates especially during the month of Ramadan.
Seasonal fruits are typically served at the end of meals. A common dessert is kaab el ghzal (“gazelle’s horns”), which is a pastry stuffed with almond paste and topped with sugar. Another dessert is ” Halwa shebakia ” it is honey cake, which is essentially pretzel-shaped pieces of dough deep-fried and dipped into a hot pot of honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Halwa Shebakia are cookies eaten during the month of Ramadan. Zucre Coco are coconut fudge cakes.
For a formal meal and after the salads, a lamb or chicken dish is served next, followed by couscous topped with meat and vegetables. A cup of sweet mint tea is commonly used to end the meal. Bread is eaten with every meal, and used in place of knives and forks. The Tagine is placed in the centre of the table, and everyone eats from the same dish, using only their right hand, and taking only from the part of the dish directly in front of them.
The most popular drink is green tea with mint. Moroccan teapots have long, curved pouring spouts and this allows the tea to be poured evenly into tiny glasses from a height. To acquire the optimum taste, glasses are filled in two stages. The Moroccans traditionally like tea with bubbles, so while pouring they hold the teapot high above the glasses.
Traditionally, making good mint tea in Morocco is considered an art form and the drinking of it with friends and family members is one of the important rituals of the day. The technique of pouring the tea is as crucial as the quality of the tea. The tea is accompanied with hard sugar cones or lumps.