Moroccan Comfort Food

Traditional Home Style Moroccan Dishes

These traditional homestyle dishes and street foods are appreciated by Moroccans as simple fare best enjoyed with family and close friends.

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    Trevor Huxham/Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Any traditional steamed couscous dish qualifies as Moroccan comfort food, but this version is my family's favorite. Steamed couscous is piled high with stewed meat and vegetables – very delicious! You can omit the meat if you prefer to prepare a vegetarian couscous. See How to Steam Couscous if you've never used a couscoussier.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    What's not to like about eggs poached in a zesty tomato sauce? Try the Moroccan version of this famous dish which originated in Tunisia, but has since been embraced and adapted by other North African and Middle Eastern cuisines. 

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Zesty stewed lentils with or without meat are Moroccan comfort food at its best. Serve them as a side dish or entree. This vegetarian version of the recipe links to other versions made with either meat or khlea (khlii).

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Saucy and just spicy enough, these stewed white beans are extremely satisfying whether eaten with a spoon or scooped up the traditional way with crusty khobz.

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    Dorling Kindersley/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    This zesty lentil, tomato, and chickpea soup recipe was taught to me by my mother-in-law, who was renowned among family and friends for her superb cooking. It yields a delicious, hearty harira which can be served as a light supper. Although it's  especially popular in Ramadan, Moroccans enjoy it year-round and even serve it at breakfast.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Cracked wheat (dchicha dyal zraa') is used to make this easy, satisfying Moroccan soup. The measures below yield a somewhat peppery broth; reduce the ginger and pepper slightly for a milder soup. Also, try the porridge-like Dchicha Soup with Cracked Barley.


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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Kalinti (also called karane or karantika, and garantita in Algeria) is a flan- or quiche-like dish made from chickpea flour and eggs. It's popular in the north of Morocco, where it's sold by the slice as a street food.


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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    The word bocadillo is Spanish, but Moroccans also use it to describe a hoagie-style sandwich which is sold as a street food and widely available in sandwich shops. This version features a popular combo of tuna, olives, onions and boiled potatoes.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Merguez sausage is both a convenience and comfort food which many families serve with eggs. Here, this simple dish is elevated by adding some onion, tomatoes and olives along with the meat.

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    Photo © J. Gilman

    Moroccan Meatball Tagine is a classic family dish that's good enough to serve to familiar guests. Well-seasoned meatballs are cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. Eggs are an optional but classic addition. Use a traditional tagine or a deep, wide skillet with a lid.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    You can serve these spiced Moroccan meatballs with Moroccan bread for scooping up the kefta and sauce, but I like to arrange the meatballs around a large mound of Homemade Mashed Potatoes and eat with a fork. Green Bean Saute and garlic toast round out the meal.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Sliced liver is marinated with cumin and paprika and then cooked with a generous quantity of fried or caramelized onions. Make the dish spicier by adding cayenne pepper, and serve on a bed of mashed potatoes (Puré de Batata) for a satisfying, homestyle meal.

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    Dorling Kindersley/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    Grilled meats are mostly enjoyed as simple, casual meals with khobz or batbout, Moroccan salad of roasted pepper and tomatoes and steaming hot Moroccan Mint Tea. This recipe for marinated lamb or beef kebabs is very popular.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    A comforting and satisfying combination of mildly-seasoned meatballs and rice cooked in saffron-flavored broth. Prep the dish ahead of time if you like, then add the liquids and simmer at mealtime.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Seffa is a famous Moroccan dish which features a mound of steamed vermicelli or couscous sweetened with raisins, butter, and powdered sugar. Ground fried almonds are a traditional garnish. In this recipe, a savory, saffron-infused preparation of meat or chicken is buried within the seffa, transforming seffa from a follow-up course into the main dish.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Tagines are slow-cooked stews traditionally prepared in clay or ceramic tagines. Although practically any tagine qualifies as comfort food, meat, and dried fruit tagines are especially satisfying with their blend of sweet and spicy flavors. This version with dried apricots can be made with lamb, beef or even chicken.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Although rfissa is often prepared as a special occasion dish, it also qualifies as comfort food at its best. A fragrant and flavorful chicken and lentil stew are served atop shredded bed. Saffron, ginger, Ras el Hanout and fenugreek contribute to the unique seasoning.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Mrouzia – sometimes spelled M'rouzia – is a sweet and spicy Moroccan tagine traditionally prepared in the days following Eid Al Adha, or Eid Al Kabirr. Lamb is most popular at this time, but beef or goat meat can also be used. Even when served outside of Eid, the dish tends to be enjoyed with much sentiment.

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    David Berkowitz/Flickr-CC BY 2.0

    Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives is a very popular family dish which is also often offered to guests. Marinating the chicken for a few hours or overnight is optional. This version of the recipe explains traditional preparation when cooking in an authentic ​tagine but links to similar recipes for conventional stovetop and slow roasting methods.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    This is an easy, delicious way to prepare slabs of lamb spareribs. The meat is coated with a butter, herb, and spice mixture, and then slow-roasted in the oven to buttery tenderness. Optional basting with honey adds sticky, finger-licking sweetness. Serve the spareribs with salt and cumin for dipping. Also, try Mechoui Roasted Leg of Lamb or Shoulder.

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    Photo © Tracy Doudoun

    This simple family meal is easily prepared with large pieces of lamb in a pressure cooker. Both the lamb and the accompanying steamed vegetables are served plain with salt and cumin on the side for dipping. Steamed Sheep's Head is another traditional dish enjoyed by many Moroccans.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Variety meats may not top the list of comfort foods in the West, but many Moroccans appreciate the traditional flavors and textures of this dish as a homestyle treat.

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    Moroccan Kefta Meatball and Egg Tagine. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    This is Moroccan kefta and eggs at their best - with caramelized onions, saucy tomatoes, and tangy olives. If short on time, skip the caramelization step or simply cook the kefta and eggs alone.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    This simple, traditional dish made with khlea (dried, preserved meat) and pan-fried eggs is popular for breakfast, but many families serve it at other times of the day. I appreciate it as a quick, last-minute lunch or easy evening meal to offer with atay.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Moroccans enjoy both savory and sweet porridge-like soups from a variety of grains. In this recipe, barley grits are cooked until tender with olive oil and cumin. Milk, butter, and evaporated milk are added at the end of cooking to richen the soup and give it a creamy quality. Serve it for breakfast or as a light supper.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Dried fava beans (ful in Arabic), garlic, lemon juice and olive oil are used to make a tangy Moroccan dip called bessara. Serve bessara as a vegetarian main dish or offer it as a side. If you like, the bessara can be thinned and eaten as a soup.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    A number of Moroccan salads are, in fact, dips. This zesty cooked salad of eggplant and tomato is one homey, satisfying example. Although it's often offered as a side, it can suffice as a vegetarian main dish when served with crusty Moroccan bread.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    This spicy vegetarian carrot and chickpea tagine is quite versatile and very satisfying. Although tagines are traditionally served with Moroccan bread for scooping everything up like a dip, this dish works quite well over a bed of rice or couscous.

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    SpiderJon/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0

    Both a street food and a comfort food, sfenj are Moroccan doughnuts made by deep frying a sticky, unsweetened yeast dough. Serve them warm, either plain or dusted with sugar, for breakfast or tea time.

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    Catherine B./Flickr - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Beghrir are tender Moroccan pancakes made from semolina. Yeast in the crepe-like batter causes hundreds of bubbles to form and break on the surface of each pancake as it cooks. This gives beghrir its unique texture and appearance. They're usually served dipped in a bubbling hot syrup of butter and honey.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Creamy Moroccan rice pudding is easy to make. A hint of cinnamon and orange flower water add traditional Moroccan flavor, but you can vary the recipe by adding almond or vanilla extract to the rice while it cooks, or garnishing the pudding with ground nutmeg or toasted almond slivers. Also, try Moroccan Vermicelli Pudding.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    This square-shaped version of rghaif (a type of dough which is shaped and pan fried) is an example of comfort breakfast or tea time fare in Morocco. Although they can be eaten plain, many Moroccans like them best with a traditional coating of hot syrup made from butter and honey.

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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    This traditional dessert tops my list of comfort food. Crispy warqa pastry is layered with sweetened fried almonds and a custard sauce (creme anglaise) scented with orange flower water.