Moroccan food

tagine with chicken and dates and moroccan ras el hanout

Moroccan cooking

This month we’re exploring the amazing world of Moroccan cuisine, inspired by the recent SBS series Shane Delia’s Moorish Spice Journey
We here at The Spice People believe cooking should be a cultural journey, so we’re here to help you on your way.

(photo courtesy Shikha whywasteannualleave.com)

(photo courtesy Shikha whywasteannualleave.com)

Moroccan cuisine is a sensory delight. It’s bright and colourful and dynamic; largely due to the complex array of spices that are used in it. A walk through the Marrakech spice market is a feast for the senses, where vibrant scents and colours abound.

Generations of Moroccan cooks have fine-tuned the cuisine to determine the perfect balance between sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavours to create an aromatic complexity of flavour that is nourishing and enriching but not overbearing. The spices used in typical Moroccan fare are more focused on the aroma and complexity of flavours, rather than the heat. Moroccan Ras el Hanout is a typical blend of the popular and essential spices that go into making Moroccan cuisine so well rounded and so popular. The name in Arabic means ‘Top of the Shop’, implying that it is a mix of the best spices for sale. Every village has its own blend, and no two are exactly alike. Common spices included in this iconic spice blend are paprika, cumin, coriander, ginger, cassia, turmeric, and cardamom but may include as many as 30 different spices. This iconic spice blend is to Moroccan cuisine as garam masala is to Indian; an essential spice blend used in every household in a wide variety of dishes such as tagines and couscous.

Food is a ritual with the power to bring people together, no matter the barriers that may exist between them. This is obvious in the Moroccan attitude to the ceremony that surrounds their meals. Moroccan food is an overwhelmingly social affair. It is an important part of the culture, and a fundamental tool to bring people together.

Even the manner that food is served emphasises the social nature of the tradition. Food is served in large conical shaped pots called tagines and is shared with many. Virtual strangers are often invited to share a meal with a group of friends and family as a regular show of hospitality. Even on an everyday basis, Moroccans make their food a social event to share with everyone, both old friends and new.

Guest house home style dining – Mergouza, Morocco

Guest house home style dining – Mergouza, Morocco

Getting started on your own Moroccan Spice Journey is easy with our signature blend of Ras el Hanout. It is a great way to get cooking without the hassle of blending your own spice mixture and is sure to be a hit with your family and friends. And for those of you who want to delve further into the wide world of middle eastern cuisine, The Spice People have created a Middle Eastern Bundle of 10 of our most popular and characteristic spice blends from this region.

To get you started, we’ve devised some recipes that use our spice blends to help you on your way:
Lebanese lamb and chickpea stew
Slow cooked lamb with Lebanese baharat spice and cous cous
Middle eastern shakshuka eggs
Sweet pickled quinces
Egyptian dukkah crusted lamb cutlets
Moroccan carrot soup with ras el hanout spice
South African Cape Malay Lamb

Apple & Mint Pastilla with Moroccan Ras el Hanout Ice Cream

Moroccan Rice Pilaf with Caramelised Onion, Orange and Pistachios

Moroccan Ras el Hanout Chicken Traybake

Moroccan Beef Tagine with Pumpkin and Chickpeas

Moroccan Chicken with Honey and Carrots

The art of serving mint tea in morocco (photo courtesy of Gabrielle Kendall http://caseofchronicwanderlust.blogspot.com.au/ )

The art of serving mint tea in morocco
Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Kendall http://caseofchronicwanderlust.blogspot.com.au/

A major staple of the Moroccan lifestyle is sweet mint tea. It is enjoyed at every meal and is extremely popular as a refreshing drink. It’s made with fresh mint and is served hot. Sitting down to enjoy a cup of tea with friends and workmates is an ordinary part of everyone’s day. It’s just another aspect of the social nature of food that Moroccans enjoy. Unfortunately for the health-conscious among us, it is flavoured with copious amounts of sugar. With that in mind, we have taken the traditional taste of mint tea and added hibiscus and sweet chai spices to produce our Hibiscus and Mint Chai Tea. This blend is sugar and caffeine-free and is perfect for a refreshing iced tea on a hot day or a warming tea all year round. However, if more traditional chai is what you’re after see our tea range of Brews of the world

hibiscus and mint chai

hibiscus and mint herbal chai tea

I hope that we’ve managed to convince you of the wonders of Moroccan Cooking, both in the cuisine and the attitude that the food evokes in the people who eat it.