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From slow roasted lamb to delectable traditional pastries, aromatic spices and tons of olives. I’m heading deep into Medina in an ambitious attempt to discover the secrets of the Moroccan food. Join me on this tasty journey featuring the best food in Marrakech.
Lamb, lamb, lamb
As the night gently falls over Marrakech, I’m entering a small humble restaurant not far from Jemaa el-Fnaa. There’s almost no one, just two local men drinking tea having an intimate conversation. The only thing I know is that I’m going to try lamb.
The waiter serves two different dishes and a pile of traditional bread. The smell hits my nose and unleashes my curiosity.
“Try the cheek! It’s the best!”, Mohamed invites me while pointing to the lamb head in front of me.
And so I do. I pull a piece of meat and sprinkle it with cumin and salt. That’s the right way to eat it, as I heard. After a night in the oven, it’s so appetizing and tender. I’m chewing this scrumptious mixture of meat and spices and I’m thinking:
“What the heck?! I don’t even like lamb!”. While I’m sinking into my own confusion, I prepare my next bite – a piece of a lamb cooked in a clay pot.
“It’s Marrakechi Tangia.”, Mohamed says. “It’s typical for this region.”.
I’m nodding as a sign of understanding whilst the meat melts in my mouth. Incredible taste. Definitely one of the best eats in Marrakech.
The Kingdom of olives
I’m strolling along the busy narrow streets of Medina and the bustle swallows me slowly. Imperceptibly, I find myself on a square surrounded by olive stalls. There is a slightly sour smell in the air blended with some herbs.
“Let’s try some olives.”, Mohamed suggests and I silently agree.
We approach a stand heavily loaded with piles of olives of all kind. I taste the green ones. Spicy, sour, with herbs or just salty, I like them all. Meanwhile, I can’t move my eyes away from the jars stuffed with beautifully arranged olives, lemons and peppers.
Msemmen aka Moroccan pancakes
My food tour in Marrakech continues along one of the most bustling arteries of Medina. I try to keep an eye on Mohamed and the others but it’s hard. So much is going on around me – wandering customers, persuasive merchants and seductive goods. We make an improvised stop in front of a little shop.
“Would you like to try some pancakes?”, Mohamed inquiries as he immediately orders.
We are going to try Msemmen known as Moroccan pancakes with butter and honey.
“It smells so nice”, I noted while impatiently staring at my pancake on the stove.
The taste is a bit different than the one I’m used to but it’s so delightful. That would be a perfect ending of the night but no, there is more Moroccan food to be discovered tonight.
Sardine Sandwich – Junk food Moroccan style
We are in a small but lively square in front of a local joint.
“This is the best place to try sardines.”, Mohamed claims.
He also shares that Morocco is one of the largest exporters of sardines in the world. While we are having this conversation the owner of the place serves the sardines. Absolutely not what I expected. Hout quoari is a sandwich with grilled sardine meatballs, onion, green olives, tomato sauce and Moroccan butter. It tastes heavenly.
“Ingenious!“, I exclaim.
Certainly the most bizarre burger I’ve ever tried.
Couscous at another level
At this point of the food tour, I feel my stomach almost full. However, we are on our way to a very special place to have a proper Moroccan dinner.
It’s unbelievably quiet and it’s hard to believe I’m in the heart of Marrakech. We pass between some herbal stalls and find our way to a small square. I see the place. It’s not a restaurant. There is just one table under the clear starry sky, perfectly arranged and waiting for us. A middle-aged woman greets us and we take our places. She first brings mint tea and Mohamed pours it the usual way – from high up.
We start with a traditional Moroccan salad called Zaalouk. It’s a common side dish with eggplants, tomatoes and spices well moistened with olive oil.
“Keep some space for the couscous.”, Mohamed recommends. “You haven’t tried anything like this.”, he adds.
Meanwhile, the woman brings a big tajine with couscous with vegetables called Couscous Tfaya.
It truly doesn’t look like the couscous I know. Nope, not at all. That woman spent hours to prepare it. She didn’t just put it in a boiling water for 10 min but used a special technique and steamed it few times. As a result, the couscous is so smooth and light.
Various types of perfectly cooked vegetables lie above it but the very best component is the caramelized onion sprinkled with raisins at the top. Mouth-watering, right? Without any doubt, this is one of the finest Moroccan dishes.
Sweets & smoothies
It’s time to put an end to our exceptional food tour in Marrakech. We are in a small bakery but a whole new galaxy of tastes. The abundance of different pastries and sweets makes me dizzy. I simply cannot choose. Hopefully, the staff step in and I receive a plate with the nicest and most traditional Moroccan pastries.
“Would you like to try a smoothie?”, Mohamed addresses me.
“Sure!”, I take a gander at the menu and shoot: “Avocado, dates and almonds.”. It’s such a perfect night to chill outside and observe the boiling life around over some sweet pleasures.
It’s such a perfect night to chill outside and observe the boiling life around over some sweet pleasures.
Special thanks to Mohamed and Marrakech Food Tours for taking care of filling my stomach and showing me some of the best places to eat in Marrakech.
Have you ever tried Moroccan food? Do you have a favorite dish?
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