Tagines and fresh orange juice – the food we enjoyed in Morocco

April 7, 2014 by  

My recent trip to Marrakech has brought back mouth-watering memories of last year’s trip to Morrocco with the family, when we stayed in Taghazout, the surf-capital of Morocco. Our week was spent in an apartment that overlooked the ocean and we spent our time either trying to surf (the kids) or hanging out in the many little cafes along the sea front (me) surfing in our imagination while sipping a refreshing orange juice or a sweet mint tea.

Eating Cous Cous at Paradise Valley in Morocco Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Eating Cous Cous at Paradise Valley in Morocco

We were there around Easter a year ago, and since Morocco is a warm and sunny spring destination and a number of airlines, such as Monarch offer cheap flights to Agadir, there’s really no excuse to go. Here are some of the happy food memories from our trip to Taghazout and Agadir to tempt you;

Moroccan Salad and orange juice at Taghazout in Morocco Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Moroccan Salad and orange juice at Taghazout in Morocco

Because of the years that Morocco was under a French protectorate, it’s easy to find delicious freshly baked baguettes as well as the more traditional Moroccan flat-bread to eat for breakfast. With it we tried the local Amlou, a dip made of ground almonds, Argan oil and local honey which was so moreish that we had to bring a jar home with us. It makes a smooth, oily mixture, a bit like runny peanut butter to dip your bread into and on one of our day trips we stopped at the Argan oil co-operative to learn how the argan kernels are pressed to make the oil used both in cooking and in skin and hair preparations.

Lunch was often a Moroccan salad which is served in all the cafes and restaurants as a side dish or starter, preferably with a view of the expert surfers twisting and turning their way into the beach. The salad is made from the vegetables that most families might have growing in their back garden, chopped small, such as tomatoes, cucumber, green and red peppers and red onion tossed in vinaigrette and served with French bread.

Orange sellers Morocco Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Orange sellers in Morocco

Being a Muslim country, alcohol is not generally served, except in cafes and restaurants that cater for Europeans, but instead we drank gallons of freshly pressed orange juice. In the markets you’ll see huge stalls full of oranges waiting to be taken home and pressed into juice and we also came across a few juice bars that sold more interesting juice combinations, using carrots, beetroot and ginger such as the kiosk next to L’Auberge in Taghazout.

Chickpea Salad in Morocco Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Chickpea Salad in Morocco

Another ingredient that featured in many of the Moroccan dishes we ate was chickpeas, which is made into hummus but also used in the green salad that we often ordered, mixed with other Mediterannean ingredients such as tomatoes, black olives and goats cheese, or cooked in tagine dishes in place of meat.

Cous Cous at L'Auberge in Taghazout Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cous Cous at L’Auberge in Taghazout

A staple of the North African cuisine is of course cous cous, a small grain that is steamed and then served with oven cooked vegetables and sometimes pieces of meat or chickpeas. I began to realise that the same repertoire of Moroccan dishes appears in almost every restaurant, from the street-food vendor to the smart restaurant, so you are often paying more for the decor and ambiance of the restaurant than any difference in the style or quality of the food.

We ate cous cous several times in different variations in Taghazout, from the elegant French-style version at L’Auberge, to a party version for the guest night put on by the owners of the Surf’n’Stay apartment where we stayed, as well as a home cooked version prepared over the open fire after our walk up to Paradise Valley. Each time there is a base of cooked cous cous in the bottom of the clay tagine dish, topped with chunks of meat and then a layer of large vegetable pieces, such as carrots and courgettes and potatoes laid over the mound of cous cous, with a dish of spicy harissa sauce of the side or poured over the top to give extra flavour. I gather that the French almost regard cous cous, which they inherited from their North African colonies as a national dish, just as we Brits love a good curry even though our Indian empire is long gone.

Cous Cous at Paradise Valley near Agadir Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cous Cous at Paradise Valley near Agadir

The final favourite that we discovered in every restaurant was the Tagine, which refers more to the style of oven cooking in a clay pot than to any specific combination of meat and vegetables. Just as we might talk about a stew or casserole cooked in the oven, the Moroccan tagine dishes rely on being cooked oh so slowly in the oven (think six hours). Since every neighbourhood would have a hammam, you might leave your tagine dish with the man stoking the wood fired boiler for the hammam and come back a few hours later after your bath to pick it up for your lunch.

Chicken with apricots in Morocco Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Chicken with apricots in Morocco

The tagines we tried seemed to often combine meat with fruit flavours, such as lamb cooked with prunes or chicken cooked with preserved lemons and green olives which were delicious.

I know that in a week near Agadir we only scratched the surface of Moroccan cuisine and were probably experiencing the tourist favourite dishes. From reading some of the Moroccan Food blogs out there such as The View from Fez and Maroc Mama I know there is plenty of variety in Moroccan home cooking, so if you are tempted, I commend some of their recipes to you. Enjoy!

More inspiration from Morocco

Paradise Valley – blue pools and Waterfalls in Morocco
Life’s a beach – watching the surfers in Taghazout
Marrakech – on shopping, sightseeing and (not) getting lost in the souk

This article was brought to you in partnership with Monarch Airlines who fly twice a week from Manchester to Morocco.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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Comments

14 Comments on "Tagines and fresh orange juice – the food we enjoyed in Morocco"

  1. Lucy on Mon, 7th Apr 2014 8:57 pm 

    I loved the food in Morocco – we did a cookery class one day so I could learn how to make tagines properly at home (I’d been trying but apparently got it all wrong!) and brought home lots of spices. I still can’t get the mint tea quite right back home but the tagines bring back that holiday feeling!
    Lucy´s last blog post ..In pictures: Essaouira sunsets

  2. Francesca on Mon, 7th Apr 2014 9:02 pm 

    The pictures are fabulous! I love couscous and tagine!

  3. Heather Cowper on Mon, 7th Apr 2014 9:44 pm 

    @Francesca Yes, we enjoyed all the fruity and spicy flavours

  4. Heather Cowper on Mon, 7th Apr 2014 9:45 pm 

    @Lucy A cookery class is one thing I would love to do in Morocco – you’ll have to tell me the secret of the tangines

  5. Katie on Mon, 7th Apr 2014 10:56 pm 

    I love learning about different flavors and cultures through food. The tangine looks amazing, but all of the fresh salads and juices do too! Was the food there pretty affordable?
    Katie´s last blog post ..Relaxing in Taling Ngam, Koh Samui Thailand

  6. Hotels Deals UK on Tue, 8th Apr 2014 1:29 pm 

    Really nice post sharing you i like lt….thanks

  7. Heather Cowper on Tue, 8th Apr 2014 11:02 pm 

    @Katie Yes, it was pleasantly affordable and I found that the more local you went the cheaper it was – there are quite a lot of very nice European style places but they charge nearly European prices

  8. About Algeria on Wed, 9th Apr 2014 4:42 pm 

    it’s amazing
    i love that
    you can also visit Algeria

  9. Sofie on Thu, 10th Apr 2014 2:40 pm 

    Oh darn, why do I have to read this post while I’m hungy:)
    Sofie´s last blog post ..Belgian beer: Brewery Het Nest

  10. Heather Cowper on Fri, 11th Apr 2014 6:51 pm 

    @Sofie Yes, I could do with a hot spicy tagine right now!

  11. Ian on Sat, 12th Apr 2014 8:20 pm 

    Man, the Moroccan food you posted is making me hungry … I’ll have to track down a Moroccan restaurant until I can travel there to try it on the ground for myself!
    Ian´s last blog post ..Top Things To Do In Kangaroo Island

  12. Heather Cowper on Sat, 12th Apr 2014 9:07 pm 

    @Ian We enjoyed trying all those flavours – hope you find some too

  13. Mark H on Sun, 4th May 2014 4:48 am 

    Your article reminds me of the wonderful juices from Morocco and the exotic aromas and tastes at the evening markets in Fez and Marrakesh.
    Mark H´s last blog post ..The Extraordinary David (Florence, Italy)

  14. Heather Cowper on Sun, 4th May 2014 7:56 am 

    @Mark Those swirls of smoke and flavours on the stalls in Jemaa El fnaa

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