North African cuisine may soon be on your top 10 list of favorites…
Morocco, located in the North West region of Africa, is separated from Europe by the Strait of Gibraltar, becoming a mix between European, Arabian, African and Berber cultures.
This melting pot has recently become a popular destination, mostly known for its exotic cities, warm beaches and the influence of the Spanish and French protectorates. The architecture is a stunning combination between Moorish (a variation of Islamic architecture) and French colonial structure, and the food will take you back to the roots of what used to be The Moorish Empire.
Moroccan cuisine is well known in Europe and is among the top favorite ethnic foods. However, it is not yet familiar in the United States. Let’s compare some well-known common western foods to some of the most traditional Moroccan foods. Then, let’s discover some of the ingredients used in the most delicate North African meals.
Many cultures can agree over a good meal…
Zaalook. This is a tomato base “Moroccan stew” very similar to the Ratatouille (dish typical of France). The ingredients used in the preparation of Zaalook are tomatoes, onions, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, bay leafs, cumin and herbs. The Ratatouille uses the same ingredients minus the cumin!
Amlou. This is considered a delicate breakfast food or is served for big occasions. Amlou originated in the Berber region of Morocco and is made of Almond butter and Argan oil. Its texture is that of Almond butter but its fragrance and health benefits are unique thanks to the Argan oil used in the mixture.
Baghrir. These Moroccan pancakes are consumed throughout the Maghreb, served with butter and honey. They are round and spongy and are covered in tiny holes, very similar to the British crumpets.
Harsha. Considered a dessert, this pan-fried flatbread tastes and has the same texture as cornbread. It is consumed with cream cheese and mint tea as an afternoon meal.
Batbout. These small rolls are a cross between English muffins and pita bread. They are used as mini sandwiches, usually filled with Halal meat, olives, cheese and lettuce.
It is fascinating to discover how similar many cultures are when it comes to food. We have influenced each other for centuries and left our marks in each other’s countries. After war, colonization, rebellions and reconquest, we still enjoy these foods that have been consumed through different eras.