In Morocco, mealtime is a social event. Common rituals include washing the hands before eating and drinking tea before and after a meal. Moroccans eat with the fingers of their right hand, taking food from a shared platter. Before the meal, people give thanks to God by saying "Bismillah." They say "Al Hamdu Lillah" meaning "Thank God" at the end of the meal.
A central ingredient in Moroccan cuisine is couscous (granular semolina), which is steamed and served with spices, vegetables, nuts and raisins, and often served with rich spicy stews and roasted meats. Lamb is the most commonly served meat. Moroccan roasted lamb is so well cooked that it falls apart easily. Meat and fish are usually grilled, stewed or cooked for several hours in an earthenware pot with a cone-shaped lid known as tajine - a name that stands for both the pot and the dish.
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Shopkeepers in the spice markets of Morocco make special mixtures that contain from 10 to 100 spices. Each vendor uses a secret recipe, and no two are ever exactly alike.
Dried apricots, dates, figs, raisins, pine nuts, almonds and pistachios are used in many dishes. Lemons, preserved in a mixture of lemon juice and salt, add a unique taste to chicken and pigeon dishes. Spices, such as cumin, coriander, saffron, chilis, dried ginger and cinnamon also add special flavours. Harissa, a paste of garlic, chilis, olive oil and salt, makes dishes fiery hot. Desserts may be flavoured with cinnamon or almonds. Briouat is a pastry made of ground nuts rolled in phyllo and soaked in honey.

 Every rural household makes its own bread from semolina flour. Before a loaf is sent to the community’s main oven, the family places its own mark or stamp on the dough to prevent confusion at the bakery.

It may take a hostess a full week to prepare a special meal for guests. Festive meals often have up to five courses. A full day’s work can go into the bstilla, thin pastry filled with chicken mixture. Dinner starts with bstilla, followed by a flavoured kebab. The tajine is next, served with khubz, a round spongy bread. The final course is melon and pastries, washed down with a small glass of mint tea.

In the month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during the daylight hours, harira soup may be served in the evening. The soup contains chunks of lamb, seasoned with various herbs and spices and thickened with flour and eggs.

  Mint Tea 

3 tbsp black or green tea (do not use teabags)
fresh mint leaves (approx. one handful)
125 ml sugar or to taste


Pour boiling water into a large teapot, rinse and throw water away. Add tea, mint leaves and sugar. Fill the teapot to the brim with more boiling water. Allow to steep, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir and taste the liquid to see if it is sweet enough. Strain into small glasses.