Moroccan Food Guide

Moroccan Food Guide

Moroccan food has become increasingly popular worldwide over the last few years because of its subtle flavours, delicious ingredients and rich history. Never tried cooking it at home? Don't fret, it can seem daunting but Amboora is here to make it easier for you!

In this beginner's guide, we will cover the main ingredients used in Moroccan food, popular dishes and some authentic recipes written by Nadia Hamila, Amboora's founder who is half Moroccan, half Tunisian by heritage.

Ingredients used in Moroccan food

  • Almonds

    used in Moroccan cuisine as both a garnish and key ingredient. Enjoy them as roasted nuts sprinkled on a variety of tagines, or blanched and peeled to form a marzipan-like paste to pair with orange blossom and sugar or stuffed into dates. You can also try the famous Moroccan sweets which require dates; almond briouats and kaab el ghazal.
  • Argan Oil

     known in the Western world for its cosmetic benefits, however in Morocco and other parts of North Africa it is known as 'liquid gold' for a reason; its delicious taste. Extracted once argan tree nuts are roasted, culinary argan oil has a rich, nutty flavour which forms the cornerstone of many Moroccan home favourites. It's used to elevate the flavours of salads and couscous, and acts as the key ingredient in amlou, an almond butter made from toasted almonds, argan oil and honey.
Argan Oil
  • Barley

    barley is a grain which is commonly used in Moroccan cooking and baking. Barley is the perfect accompaniment for classic elements of Moroccan cuisine, for example, barley bread, soup or even use it to make couscous.
  • Bell Peppers

    bright, impossible to miss, and yet blessed with the subtlety of flavour, bell peppers are a Moroccan staple and used in a number of classics. They can be roasted or grilled for both warm and cold salad dishes, diced and cooked with fish, or blended into harissa to balance out the heat of chilli peppers.
Bell Peppers
  • Black Pepper

    a staple in spice cabinets around the world, black pepper is used in Morocco to temper hot dishes, add complexity to other flavours or create a delicate, subtle heat. Black pepper is essential in making lamb or beef tagines, preserved lemon chicken, and even used in our Ras El Hanout spice blends.
Black Pepper
  • Bread

    it's rare you see a table in Morocco without homemade white bread, known as khobz, which is a circular loaf full of flavour. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, khobz can be eaten on its own, dipped in olive oil or used as an accompaniment to sauce.
  • Cardamom

    made up of mint, lemon and pepper, cardamom can be defined by its blend of sweet and savoury flavours. It's a great ingredient to use for slow-cooked tagines but also for something sweeter, like ghriba, where cardamom is mixed with orange to make a cookie. Also try as a little addition to your daily coffee.
  • Chickpeas

    found on the streets of Marrakech, Fez and more, chickpeas are a street food staple which you can eat roasted or paired with other peas and beans. They are a great base for a snack, or to add to spices like paprika, cumin and turmeric.
  • Chilli Peppers

    bold and fiery, chilli peppers are a force to be reckoned with. Morocco's hottest spice, they add some thing different to classic Moroccan foods like couscous, and they make up the base of the famous paste harissa.
Chilli Peppers
  • Coriander

    fresh coriander is an essential herb in Morocco. Used in all fish and seafood dishes, including chermoula, Morocco's famous marinade, and harira, a hearty soup.
  • Cinnamon

    cinnamon compliments tagines, soups like harira, and chebakia cookies perfectly. Its flavour works in both sweet and savoury dishes as it is warm and fragrant and naturally elevates dishes.
  • Couscous

    couscous is more than an essential to Moroccan cooking, it is the national dish! It is traditionally made using semolina, but can also be made from barley or wheat. You can buy it pre-rolled or roll it by hand into a pellet-shaped pasta and steam it three times (link to how to steam couscous blog/ recipe). Couscous is an amazing base food for a variety of flavours, both meat and vegetable dishes. It is so loved by Moroccan people that it is served every Friday across the nation.
  • Cumin

    ground cumin and cumin seeds bring an earthy and nutty layer to tagines, salads and more. Without cumin, there would be no such thing as addis, a cumin and lentil soup, nor smen, Moroccan's beloved preserved butter. Fun fact - In the UK salt and pepper are our go-to table seasonings but in Morocco, salt and cumin are the classics.
  • Fish

    is immensely popular in Morocco, especially in coastal regions like Rif and Tangiers where you rarely see a plate without fish on it. A classic meal is fish tagine or chermoula marinated fish, recipe here!


  • Garlic

    with its signature tang, it is one of Morocco's most used ingredients. It is vital in the make-up of Morocco's greatest culinary hits like tagine, stew and salad. It is also fundamental in the making of chermoula, the perfect marinade for fish and seafood dishes.
  • Ginger

    ginger is warming, comforting and comes with a lovely fragrance. Commonly used in chicken tagines along with olives and preserved lemon. Ground ginger is also popular in baking alongside cardamom and cinnamon. While ground ginger is common in Morocco, it is actually fresh ginger which you'll find hard to come by.
  • Green Tea

    Green tea was only introduced in Morocco less than 200 years ago, and it didn't take long for it to be one of the nation's most loved drinks. It is drunk several times day and often served to visiting guests. Green tea is commonly steeped with mint, lemon verbena and sometimes geranium.
Green Tea
  • Harissa

    harissa is originally Tunisian but Morocco has made the famous chilli paste part of their own cuisine. Offered on the side to grilled meats, sandwiches and tagines, and used to flavour marinades and stews.
  • Honey

    one of Morocco's most popular sweeteners, honey comes in many flavours, including orange blossom, eucalyptus and za'atar. Of course, honey can be used as a condiment to a myriad of sweet dishes and is also a natural medicine.
    • Honey


  • Khlii

    apreserved meat typically made from beef, similar to a beef jerky but stored in fat, khlii is traditionally made up for a lack of freezing or refrigeration technology. Now, of course most people have home fridges and so the necessity for khlii has reduced but this doesn't mean it is no longer enjoyed. Add it to egg for breakfast or bean and vegetable dishes after being stored in olive oil for a delicious flavour plus nutritional value. One of my favourites to make at home or eat in Morocco.
  • Lamb

    one of the most popular meats in Morocco, lamb is usually slow cooked in meat dishes, or used in a tagine or stew (lamb tagine or stew recipe linked here).




  • Lemons

    the most common way to make the most out of lemons in Morocco is to preserve them. After curing lemons for at least a month, you will find they are even m ore salty and tangy, a perfect flavour to elevate tagine and salad dishes as an ingredient or garnish. A crowd favourite is preserved lemon chicken tagine (recipe linked here).
  • Mint

    mint is used as the main component for refreshing teas and a nice touch to fresh salads. The famous Moroccan mint tea has been used for years and helps aid digestion, rid the body of toxins and calm both body and mind. The herb also tastes heavenly with lamb. Recipe for mint tea here!


  • Nutmeg

    nutmeg is known as guza in Morocco, and acts as a main ingredient in the classic spice Ras El Hanout. For this reason alone, nutmeg simply must be on our Moroccan Food Guide list.


  • Olive Oil

    used in practically every Moroccan dish though often not given much credit, tagine, chermoula, and even pastries or cakes wouldn't be the same without. But not only this, on its own with bread you can see its own very distinctive and delicious flavour. It's important to note that it is in fact the main go to oil used in Morocco, except for with deep frying.
Olive oil
  • Olives

    commonly served as a table snack or starter, olives are a great way to tease your appetite. Moroccan olives range from mild green picholine and tender purple beldi to the intense black olives cured in sea salt and coated with olive oil. They are fabulous on their own but Moroccans also use them to top tagines and stews for an added burst of flavour.
  • Onion

    a staple in every Moroccan kitchen. Onions are one of those ingredients which add undeniable flavour without the danger of being overwhelming. They take centre stage in the popular Moroccan garnish t'faya, which is made up of caramelised onion, raisins, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and saffron, served over meats and couscous.
  • Orange Flower Water

    made by steaming orange tree blossoms, orange flower water has a beautifully delicate flavour and has been used for years to enhance sweet treats like stuffed dates and savoury meals like chicken bastilla, a chicken pie. The perfumed water can also be used to clean hands after eating.
Orange Flower Water


  • Paprika

    paprika is grounded from dried sweet red peppers and produces either a hot kick or a mild sweetness depending on which paprika you prefer. Moroccans often favour the latter, and subtler flavours in general, and so paprika in Morocco is used to season meats, salads, bean dishes and stews.
  • Parsley

    renowned for its bright green tone and slightly bitter taste, parsley is welcomed in many Moroccan favourites, including the marinade chermoula and the soup harira


  • Ras El Hanout

    The Moroccan classic. Every blend is different but ras el hanout almost always contains 15 or more different spices. For example, our very own Ras El Hanout, which won a 2 star Great Taste award contains the following ingredients: Paprika, Ground Coriander, Cumin, Ginger, Cinnamon, Green Cardamom, Turmeric, Garlic, Nutmeg, Rose Petals, Salt, All spice, Cloves, White Pepper, Black Pepper.


Ras el Hanout
  • Saffron

    otherwise known as zahfran in Morocco, it is used in everything, and along with turmeric, it gives a lovely golden colour to Moroccan food. Take a fe w threads or a pinch of saffron powder and add it to your tagine, couscous or bastilla and you won't regret it. Morocco is the 3rd biggest producer of saffron in the world!


  • Sesame Seeds

    Moroccans favour sesame seeds in their unhulled, golden form , and the seeds are used to garnish, bring nuttiness and texture.
Sesame Seeds



  • Semolina

    the g rain that makes couscous, Morocco's national dish, semolina is one of the most important ingredients on this list. But semolina isn't a one trick pony, it can also be used to make flavourful breads, sweets and even pancakes. Moroccans use it both in its fine and coarse form.




  • Sugar

    typically, Moroccans are more than partial to all things sweet. In fact, Morocco has one of the highest per capita sugar consumption figures in the world. It goes without saying that sugar is the base of so many sweet drinks, desserts and meals and should always have a place in the pantry.


  • Smen

    the famous (or infamous?) Moroccan preserved butter, smen can be fermented for over 20 years, perhaps even more. However, its pungent and distinctive flavour means you simply either love it or hate it. Perhaps only try it in smaller quantities if you're a newbie to the taste.


  • Turmeric

    mild pepper y flavour, warming earthy aroma, and distinct marigold colour, turmeric is a quintessential Moroccan spice. It elevates the taste of tagine, and ras el hanout wouldn't be the same without it either.



  • Warqa

    warqa is paper-thin pastry dough similar to filo pastry, which is used for both sweet and savoury foods. Chicken bastilla is the most famous of them, which is Moroccan pie. Best when fresh, make sure you buy warqa on the day you'd like to eat it.


Popular Moroccan dishes



is a succulent, stew like dish which is slow-cooked in the traditional cookware also known as a Tagine. It is a North African delicacy, not only popular in Morocco but the rest of the world. The exact origin of tagine is contested, but its invention is most commonly attributed to the first settlers in North Africa, the Berbers. Written records of tagine-style recipes can even be traced back as early as the 9th century, found in the publication The Thousand and One Nights. Whatever the history, it is clear tagine has been loved over centuries and passed on through generations. Tagine, along with many other examples of Moroccan cuisine, can be characterised by the strong presence of French, Spanish, Arab and even Ottoman influences. Tagine is fragrant with heady herbs and subtle spices, enriched with slow cooked meats like lamb, beef or chicken, and topped off with the sweetness of dried fruits and fresh vegetables. Common spices used for tagines include ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and saffron; depending on your choice of meat. For vegetable tagines, stronger spices are preferable, like paprika or even chilli. Tagine must be cooked in tagine pot with a dome-shaped lid, which effectively traps steam and returns the condensed liquid back into the pot. Originally this conserved water for poorer families or in places where water supplies were limited, but the tradition still lives on. Our recipes are inspired by methods used by my family for generations, click for my chicken taginepreserved lemon chicken tagine, and lamb tagine recipes!





Another classic Moroccan dish:


Contrary to what you may believe, couscous is made from crushed durum wheat semolina formed into small granules or spheres. Archaeological evidence traces the presence of couscous in North Africa back to the 9th century. The name couscous is widely acknowledged as deriving from the Arabic word 'kouscous', or the Berber equivalent 'kseksu', naming the semolina grain from which couscous is made. Semolina is a type of flour made from Middle Eastern durum wheat which makes couscous a much healthier choice than other pastas, and much higher in protein. You can see why couscous is served every Friday in Morocco, especially the family favourite, seven vegetable couscous; made out of courgette, potatoes, carrot, onion, turnips, tomatoes and cabbage (and sometimes even pumpkin). (Recipes linked here). 







- a staple in many people's diets all over the world. However, a Moroccan vegetable salad is something else entirely. Eaten as meals in their own right or as a side dish, salads in Morocco are colourful, refreshing and packed with flavour. You can have them hot or cold but they are more often than not made with the classic vegetables enjoyed in Morocco, including the 7 previously mentioned; courgette, carrot, onion, potatoes and so on. Popular flavours used in a Moroccan salad range from citrus, like preserved lemons, to sweet; sweet potatoes, carrots or chickpeas. (Recipes linked here).




in Morocco are versatile and popular. Chickpeas and broad beans are particular favourites, so much so, that the consumption of peas in Morocco during Ramadan has been increasing year on year, in honour of the tradition of the pea soup, harira. Again, they can be eaten on their own as a snack at a street food stall, where you regularly find them either dried, steamed or roasted. Alternatively, these pulses make for great ingredients in a salad, often flavoured by cumin, black pepper or paprika (link to recipe).



Moroccans are renowned for their love of :

Nuts and Dried Fruits

like almonds and dates. In Morocco alone there are over 100 varieties of Dates, which are primarily grown in the Southern regions like the Draa Valley. The most common are Medjoul Dates which have a soft and sweet flavour and velvety texture. Dates often accompany harira, a pea soup eaten to break the fast during Ramadan. They are also seen in tagine recipes, especially with chicken or lamb. There is an Almond Blossom Festival celebrated each year in the Moroccan village Tafraoute. Walnuts and figs are also honourable mentions. (Recipes to do with these fruits and nuts linked here). 

Nuts and Dried Fruit


Moroccan sweets.

Typically, sweets are not served for dessert in Morocco, but most meals are followed with a fresh platter of seasonal fruits. In the day, these sweets are served with Moroccan tea, for example, Morocco's famous mint tea (link to recipe). Examples of sweets in Morocco include briouats, little triangle pastries filled with almond and topped with sesame seeds. Other popular favourites are chebakia and ka'ab ghazal which are also almond based. In Europe, it is common to have three meals a day, but in Morocco there are four. Aside from breakfast, lunch and dinner, Moroccans enjoy an afternoon snack. In Northern Morocco this is known as a merienda, a light meal equivalent to Britain's famous afternoon tea. In the south, this Spanish word is swapped for its French counterpart, gouter. This afternoon snack is designed to keep you going during the day, as dinner in Morocco is served very late, after the heat subsides. 

Moroccan Sweets

We have created our range of products to compliment all of these ingredients, dishes and many more. This is a great starting point in your journey to Moroccan cooking. We'd love to see what you come up with, so please do tag us in your Instagram and Twitter photos and use the hashtag #amboora.