Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Marrakesh Local Delicacies- What To Eat In Morocco

Food and drink delicacies to try on a trip to Marrakesh, Morocco

The Lone Male On Tour- Marrakesh, Morocco.

As a gastro-tourist you're in for a treat in Marrakesh or any other region of Morocco. We all know of tagines and couscous which are mainstays of Moroccan food. Yet they're not all to look forward when eating out in Marrakesh. Whether you're eating lamb brochettes at the impressive food stalls on the Djemaa el Fna or having a meal in the decadent surroundings of a palatial Riad- Moroccan food can cater for all tastes with some impressive local delicacies from it's Berber, Moorish and Arabian influences.

The Lone Male in Marrakesh watching the world go by from the Cafe Panoramique
The food stalls of Marrakesh getting ready for a night as viewed from the Cafe Panoramique
Mint tea on one of the Djemaa el Fna roof terraces. Watch the world go by beneath you from the cafe Panoramique (View featured above). It's the ultimate vantage point to see what's going on down on the UNESCO heritage site without being pestered for dirham by a young child or having a snake charmer wrap a shady character around your neck. Grab a sugary mint tea and watch Marrakesh go by.

Although by day you really need a freshly squeezed orange juice from one of the stalls before you hit the souks. Not exactly a local delicacy but something to savour.
Lone male in the kitchen
Freshly squeezed fuit juice on the Djemaa el Fna- Turbocharged and ready for the souks
Most produce is locally grown and those spices you see and smell in the souks definitely aren't just for the tourists to take home.
Lone Male in the kitchen
A Moroccan food souk fruit and vegetable shop- Amazing locally grown produce 

Local delicacies to sample in Marrakesh, Morocco

Couscous (seksu). Couscous is a staple part of the Moroccan diet. You'll sample something that's atmosphere's above the packets that you find in supermarkets. It's often steamed with an aromatic broth with the addition of nutty argan oil to create a light, fluffy texture. It's regularly served just with vegetables which will satisfy the vegetarians amongst us from Casablanca to the Atlas Mountains.
Tagines- The stereotypical cooking method in Morocco is the tagine. Think slow cooking food in a terracotta pot and you have the idea. You can't visit Marrakesh without trying a tagine. If you order a chicken tagine (tagine poulet) expect tender chicken cooked with preserved lemons and olives. If you go for beef or lamb expect spices like Ras-El-Hanout and apricots. The tagine is a real Moroccan delicacy and no trip would be complete without sampling. 
Lone male in the kitchen
Hidden in this vegetable tagine is mouthwatering fluffy couscous
Meat kebabs (brochettes) and spiced sausages (merguez) are hearty meat dishes to consider from the food stalls on the Djemaa el Fna. 
Lone male in the kitchen
Kebabs and spicy sausages (brochettes and merguez) at the Marrakesh food stalls
The kebabs are often lamb or beef and are rubbed with salt and spices. Expect them to be served with unlevened flat bread (khoobz) and a tomato based capisum-pepper sauce which has a kick to it. If you order the mixed kebabs expect a mixture of lamb, beef, kidney, heart and liver which adds a strong flavour combination which will leave you yearning for more.
Merguez are a reddish colour homemade spiced sausage which are packed full of flavour, especially after being smoked over hot coals.

Brochettes cooking over smokey hot coals
Lone male in the kitchen
Brochettes cooking over a bed of hot coals out in the Atlas Mountains

Pastilla- Sweet meets savoury meat in this Moroccan delicacy. Traditionally made from pigeon meat although sometimes found made with chicken, Pastilla is effectively a sweat and savoury pigeon pie. The filling is meat laced with almonds and spices like cinnamon surrounded with filo pastry sprinkled with icing sugar and cocoa powder. If you have a sweet tooth then pastilla is the ultimate guilty pleasure of a main course. Boo in London sampled some fantastic looking Pastilla at La Maison Arabe, Marrakesh which looks divine.
Lone male in the kitchen
Icing sugar coated Pastilla in Marrakesh
Grab some snails from one of the evening food stalls for a quick and cheap snack
Lone male in the kitchen
Snails are a great snack at the Marrakesh street stalls and are extremely reasonably priced
Snails are a local delicacy with a French flavour that will have  a Marmite (love or hate) effect on many travellers. I'd never tried them prior to visiting Marrakesh and for the sake of about 40 pence I couldn't pass off the opportunity. My motto has always been that you can't really pass judgement properly until you've experienced something.

The snail sellers just seem to sell small and large bowls of what might be described as snail soup. A small bowl will net you around 25-30 snails cooked in their shells with a light garlic sauce likely flavoured with hints of lemon and turmeric. They're not for everyone but definitely worth a try if you're feeling adventurous.

What's your favourite Marrakesh delicacy?