Culture Trip stands with
Black Lives Matter
Tanjia is a dish local to the Red City of Marrakech. Commonly associated with traders who work in the souks, the dish takes its name from the type of pot that it is cooked in. While there are plenty of places where you can try the meat-heavy dish around the city, why not cook your own as the locals do? Visit a butcher and rent a tanjia pot, which the butcher will fill with meat and spices before securely sealing it. Next, take your filled pot to the local hammam. Don’t enter the steamy chambers, though; look for the person who stokes the hammam’s fire and keeps it burning. The traditional way of cooking a tanjia is to leave it sitting for several hours in the hammam’s hot embers! Leave your pot, go off, enjoy your day, and return later to collect your meal. Unseal the pot and enjoy!
While couscous is eaten in several countries around the world today, the Northern African dish has special significance in Morocco. There are various ways to enjoy couscous, both savoury and sweet, but the most common couscous meal is seven vegetable couscous. Although many tourist-focused restaurants serve couscous all throughout the week, locals traditionally eat the dish on Fridays. Don’t be surprised to find that it’s only available in smaller establishments and local eateries on the Islamic holy day. Head to an authentic Moroccan restaurant on a Friday and order couscous to share with your friends or family. Look around and you’ll likely find that you’re surrounded by local groups all digging into couscous too. Why not try eating it Moroccan style, too, by using your fingertips to roll the couscous into small balls?
Tagine is another of Morocco’s popular dishes, and different varieties are widely available around the country. Whether you want lamb, chicken, fish, vegetables, or another variety, there’s a tagine to suit most tastes. Rather than simply ordering a tagine in a restaurant, though, dedicated foodies can take a cooking class to learn how to recreate the Moroccan dish back at home. Many classes begin with a tour of the local market to buy ingredients, and you’ll learn more about spices traditionally used in the Moroccan kitchen. Prepare your own tagine, wait for it to cook, and then dig into your own creation, accompanying your meal with plenty of crusty bread.
The coastal city of Safi is famous for having produced the biggest tagine in the world. Entered into the Guinness Book of Records, city locals came together in 1999 to make the biggest sardine tagine the world has ever seen. More than 200 women were involved. The large pot, decorated by expert local artists, is proudly displayed in the city. Visit Safi and see the large tagine pot; one can only imagine the feast that resulted from its use!
Produced in Morocco, argan oil is generally lauded for its beneficial properties for the hair and skin. It can also, however, be used for cooking. Visit an argan oil collective and learn more about how the oil is produced, try and spot goats climbing trees, and tuck into a meal prepared using the sought-after oil. It has a rather nutty flavour. It can be used as an ingredient or for mid-heat frying, though it is rarely used because of the high cost. Meals including argan oil are more likely to be found in the areas where argan trees grow, such as around Agadir and Essaouira. Look out for traditional amelou, a dip that’s quite similar to a thick and creamy peanut butter. It is made from almonds, argan oil, and honey.
There’s regular tea, there’s mint tea, and then there’s Moroccan mint tea. Something of an institution in the North African nation, mint tea is much more than just a drink. A vital element of social gatherings and a symbol of hospitality, it would be almost impossible to travel around Morocco and never encounter mint tea. Available in almost every restaurant and café around the country, offered by vendors trying to make a sale, and poured regularly in homes throughout the country, trying authentic Moroccan mint tea is an iconic experience when exploring the diverse country.
Morocco isn’t a country that is usually associated with wines, but there are actually several top-class wineries around the country. The area around Meknes is especially known for its vineyards and wineries. Visit Château Roslane, the first Moroccan establishment to be connected with the famous French Château brand. As well as being able to learn more about wine-making in Morocco, guests can try a range of delicious wines made using locally grown grapes.
Although camel milk and camel meat are commonly consumed in Morocco, cheese made from camel’s milk is a relatively new concept, and it’s one that’s proving difficult to break into the market. La Fromagerie near Essaouira is trying to change people’s minds, though, and make them fall in love with the strong-tasting soft cheese. After much experimentation, the dairy and restaurant now specialises in the unusual cheese. The unique cheese is called Dilbeek, named after a Belgian couple who couldn’t resist the cheese’s unusual sour flavour and origins. The cheese-makers also produces cheeses made from cow and goat milk. Pay a visit to learn more about the cheese-making process and to sample the innovative cheese.