Morocco’s cuisine is famous for its unique features. Located at the far northwest of Africa, relatively isolated by the twin barriers of the Sahara and the Atlantic, Morocco has had plenty of time to develop its cuisine in isolation. But not complete isolation, rather, both in geographic and culinary terms, Morocco remains part of the Mediterranean world. This means that it shares the recognizable features of olive oil, citrus fruits, legumes, fish, nuts, and all the other ingredients associated with the Mediterranean diet.
One of the ingredients that Moroccan cuisine is most famous for is couscous. Though many people mistakenly believe couscous to be a type of grain, like rice or bulgur. However, those people are mistaken. Couscous is actually a type of pasta, painstakingly rolled into tiny balls, presumably between the leathery palms of elderly Berber women wrapped in luxuriant robes. The couscous is typically served with a stew spooned on top of it. Morocco has a few more unique ingredients as well, such as salt preserved lemons and harissa, a type of salty chili paste endemic to the region.
Another important term in Moroccan cuisine is the tagine. It’s a type of clay pot local to the region, used to steam and roast meat and vegetable dishes for a long time over the fire. It has a conical top to allow steam to slowly escape while the food inside cooks.
Moroccan food is interesting and unique. If you pay close attention, you might see where the cuisine gets its inspiration. Try cooking our Moroccan recipes all on the same night for a North African feast!
Chicken tagine with olives, artichokes, and onions recipe
This tagine recipe will have your guests coming back for more. This recipe is packed with classic Mediterranean ingredients: tart green olives, creamy artichokes, and sour stewed lemons. Leaving the peel on the lemon is a classic Moroccan tagine move. It adds a certain bitterness to the tagine’s flavor—after stewing for so long, the peel becomes completely edible, and indeed retains a lovely texture.
The artichokes are another classic Mediterranean ingredient—our recipe calls for canned artichoke hearts to save time. If you want to use fresh artichokes, the process is more or less the same, just make sure you clean the artichoke properly. To do this, cut the pointy end off, then shave the outside with a paring knife until you get to the softcore or heart of the artichoke. After that, just scrape out each artichoke’s fluffy choke and toss it in the tagine. If you’re not going to start cooking it immediately, it’s important to submerge these artichokes in some water with lemon juice to stop them from oxidizing and turning an attractive brown color.
In essence, this chicken tagine is a Moroccan curry, and can be treated as such. Let it cook for a while! The more it stews, the tastier it becomes!
Chicken tagine with olives and salted lemons recipe
Preserved lemons are one of the Moroccan cuisine’s most distinctive ingredients. They’re also incredibly easy to make at home. To make homemade preserved lemons, simply buy a bag of organic lemons. Since you’re going to be eating the peels, it’s important to use organic lemons in this application. Then you just slice them into quarters and smash them down into a mason jar, stopping every so often to cover everything in sea salt (don’t use iodized salt for this). Make sure everything is smashed down and the juice has been extracted so that the lemon pieces are submerged, and place your jar in a cool, dark place for a week or three. At the end of it, the lemons will have transformed, and you’ll have preserved lemons! These things are seriously delicious after you wash off the extra salt. Try them in tagines (of course), but also salads, sandwiches, and more!
Okay, so three weeks later, you have your preserved lemons (if you don’t have three weeks, you can also buy them from a Moroccan import shop). This tagine pairs the chicken with delicious green olives and our homemade preserved lemons. After stewing for a few hours, you’ll be surprised how tender and flavorful this chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons is.
Couscous with vegetables recipe
You’ve got two tagines—now it’s time for couscous! This elaborated couscous is a great vegetarian option to have at a dinner party. It’s more than just pasta: this one is cooked with tons of different spices as well as spring vegetables like carrots, zucchini, eggplant, and more. Meat eaters can spoon your chicken tagine over the top, and vegetarians can just dig right in! This couscous is so tasty, it doesn’t need any sauce. Spiced with chili and garlic and enhanced with tons of fresh spring vegetables, this couscous is sure to stand up to the strong flavors of any tagine.