You've heard about Tagines, Couscous, and a myriad of other North African dishes. But what sets Moroccan cuisine apart? Should you find yourself meandering through the labyrinthine alleys of Marrakech or exploring the historic medinas of Tangiers, keep a keen eye out for these quintessentially Moroccan street foods. Famed for their masterfully balanced flavours, Moroccan street food vendors have devoted years to perfecting their recipes to offer you the ultimate gastronomic delight.
While you might have savoured Bocadillos on a Spanish holiday, this street food has traversed south to the bustling street corners of Northern Morocco, particularly Tangiers. Bocadillos are sandwiches, comprising a simple yet satisfying combination of meat, vegetables, and sauce. Opt for your preferred meat, salad, and sauce. They could be likened to a fusion of a club sandwich and a kebab, nestled within a baguette. Among the most beloved varieties is one featuring grilled chicken, pickled vegetables including green olives and carrots, all crowned with a mayo sauce and the optional fries which makes it a decent meal in my opinion.
On the coastline, street vendors often offer fish bocadillos, showcasing the day's catch. Sardines and other white fish are notably popular. And the good news? Bocadillos are both affordable and delightful, setting you back merely around £2.
Caliente, my personal favourite, is a chickpea pie with a custardy consistency that truly warms the soul. As its name suggests—'caliente' meaning 'hot' in Spanish—it's served warm and can be savoured either as a slice or spread onto bread. Its texture is reminiscent of a flan, depending on its thickness. The pie is crafted from chickpea flour, oil, egg, water, and salt, with the option to garnish with a plethora of herbs and spices. Common toppings include paprika, cumin or cayenne pepper—for those who dare to embrace the heat. This dish has nostalgia attached because I remember as a child grabbing these as a snack on holiday on days my granddad would take me to pick up my cousins from school. The vendor would be outside with the huge hot trays straight from the oven and tapping the tins with the serving spatular to grab attention for people to buy.
Maakouda, a delightful fried potato cake or patty, shines whether enjoyed solo or tucked inside a sandwich. Its simplicity is what makes it an exemplary street food choice, requiring merely four ingredients: potato, eggs, flour, and herbs. The mashed potatoes are shaped into balls and fried until they achieve a crispy, golden exterior, while remaining soft and warm inside.
For the finest Maakouda, head to Morocco's erstwhile capital, Fez, or the vibrant city of Meknes in the north. Street food vendors often get inventive with Maakouda sandwiches, sometimes stuffing them with numerous potato cakes, olives, cheese, eggs, and Morocco's renowned harissa hot sauce.
With Morocco's extensive coastline yielding an abundance of fish daily, city dwellers in Tangiers, Rabat, and Casablanca relish the freshest sardines. Street food purveyors fry them up to perfection, ready to be enjoyed either solo, stuffed with aromatic garlic and ginger, or accompanied by Morocco's beloved tomato and onion salad. Whether savoured hot or cold, sardines are not only scrumptious but also wallet-friendly, making them a street food favourite.
Sfenj, Moroccan doughnuts made from a deep-fried dough, boast a chewy interior and a crisp exterior. These yeast-based treats are fried in vast cauldrons of oil and typically served steaming hot, either glazed with sugar or accompanied by jam. The word 'sfenj' translates to 'sponge' in Arabic, alluding to their spongy texture. Remarkably affordable, sfenj can be purchased for as little as 2 dirhams, roughly equivalent to 15p in sterling. This delightful sweet snack is versatile, with some locals even pairing sfenj with fried eggs.
Tayb wa Hari
Tayb wa Hari, meaning 'cooked and soft,' aptly describes this chickpea snack that resembles popcorn. After a day of simmering chickpeas in a pot brimming with exquisite herbs and spices, street food vendors serve it in bowls, sprinkled with cumin and paprika. For an extra kick of flavour, don't hesitate to request additional seasoning.
This dish stands as the most economical street food option listed, with a bowl of Tayb wa Hari costing merely 3 dirhams, about 25p in the UK. To identify a vendor offering this delicacy, look for a large pot simmering away; it's a sure sign they're serving this delectable treat.
B'ssara, a rich and comforting broad bean soup, is particularly popular during the colder months. This velvety soup is made from dried broad beans, garlic, olive oil, and spices, blended to create a smooth and hearty dish. Traditionally served for breakfast, it's garnished with a generous swirl of olive oil and a sprinkle of cumin. B'ssara not only offers warmth and nourishment but is also incredibly economical, making it a staple among locals and a must-try for visitors.
Kebabs in Morocco take the form of skewered, grilled meat, marinated in a mixture of herbs and spices that imbue it with an unmistakable Moroccan flavour. Whether it's lamb, beef, or chicken, each kebab is cooked over an open flame, ensuring a succulent and smoky taste. Served with a side of bread, salad, and sometimes a spicy sauce, Moroccan kebabs are a beloved choice for a quick and satisfying meal.
Msemen are square, flaky flatbreads, a staple of Moroccan street food cuisine. Prepared by folding the dough with butter and semolina, then frying until golden, these breads are incredibly versatile. Enjoyed with honey and cream for breakfast, or as a savoury snack filled with minced meat, onions, and spices, msemen are a deliciously indulgent treat no visitor should miss.
Snail Soup, a unique and traditional Moroccan delicacy, is especially popular in the bustling markets of Marrakech. The broth is flavoured with a variety of spices including aniseed, bay leaves, and peppermint, offering a unique taste experience. Consumed primarily for its supposed health benefits, including aiding digestion, this soup is enjoyed by sipping the broth and using toothpicks to extract the snails. A visit to Morocco wouldn't be complete without trying this adventurous yet surprisingly tasty dish.
Exploring Moroccan street food offers a window into the country's rich culinary heritage, with each dish telling its own story of tradition, innovation, and the vibrant Moroccan lifestyle. Had the fortune to sample Moroccan street food? We'd love to see your photos! Share them with us on Instagram.