Moroccan Recipes for Special Occasions and Entertaining

Some Moroccan dishes are well-associated with special occasions, celebrations, holiday gatherings and entertaining. These recipes are suggestions of what you might consider when hosting a special Moroccan meal or planning a feast for a large crowd. Many of the dishes can be prepped in advance, making it easy to get food on the table for your big event.
  • 01 of 19
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    Moroccan Chicken Bastilla. Photo © Christine Benlafquih
    This savory and sweet chicken, almond and egg pie is a classic choice for special events such as wedding feasts, family celebrations or company dinners. It can be fully prepped in advance and then frozen until baking time. Although it traditionally is presented as a large communal pie, individual-sized bastillas may be made instead.
  • 02 of 19
    Moroccan Seafood Bastilla. Timmey O'Toole/Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    This seafood version of bastilla has become immensely popular in recent years, making it another impressive favorite to present for special meals. Shrimp, calamari, fish and a zesty rice vermicelli filling are stuffed within the warqa pastry leaves. Again, it can be fully prepped ahead of time and frozen until needed.

  • 03 of 19
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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih
    Mechoui means roasted over a fire, and in Moroccan cuisine it's become synonymous with roasted lamb. Traditionally this involves a whole lamb, but this home oven recipe calls for leg of lamb or shoulder. The meat is dressed with a Moroccan spice rub and then slow-cooked to buttery tenderness.
  • 04 of 19
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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    This sweet and savory dish features saffron-infused chicken (or lamb) hidden within a mound of steamed vermicelli. The classic flavors include ginger, saffron, cinnamon and fried almonds. Omit the meat to present the vermicelli as an impressive follow-up course to an entree.

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  • 05 of 19
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    Traditional Moroccan Salad Plate. Photo © Christine Benlafquih
    An impressive and lovely starter course, four different vegetables are arranged around a mound of rice salad. This photo tutorial links to all the salad recipes, which can be prepped the day before serving.
  • 06 of 19
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    Moroccan Lamb Brochettes. Dorling Kindersley/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    When served to guests or on special occasions, these lamb or fillet beef brochettes are typically presented as one of several entrees. They can be served alone, or for more casual meals, stuffed in wedges of Moroccan khobz with Salade Mechouia as a filler.

  • 07 of 19
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    Moroccan Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives. Moroccan Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    There are different ways to prepare this popular, classic dish – in a pot, in a tagine, or roasted in the oven as shown here – but this method is the easiest way to feed a crowd. Prep the chickens and cook the sauce the day before, and then roast your chickens in time to serve guests.

  • 08 of 19
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    Moroccan Couscous with Vegetables. Jan Greune/LOOK/Getty Images

    This Casablanca style couscous is a common offering at family and company meals. Couscous is steamed in a couscoussier and then topped with a fabulous meat and vegetable stew. It may seem like a lot of work if you've never made it, but after one or two times it will seem easy to put together even when hosting a special event. Save time by prepping the veggies earlier in the day or the evening before.

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  • 09 of 19
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    Couscous Tfaya with Chicken. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Another couscous favorite for family meals or when entertaining. Stewed chicken or lamb is served on a bed of couscous, then topped with a sweet and spicy caramelized onion and raisin mixture. Ras el Hanout contributes to the aromatic seasoning.

  • 10 of 19
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    Moroccan Chicken Rfisa (Rfissa, Rafisa). Photo © Christine Benlafquih
    One of my personal favorites, this dish features very savory and aromatic chicken stewed with lentils, fenugreek, saffron, Ras el Hanout and other spices. It's served atop a bed of shredded mssemen or day old bread. I consider it comfort food that's elegant enough for company, and indeed the dish is one that might traditionally be prepared to honor guests.
  • 11 of 19
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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Although this lamb, raisin, almond and honey dish is traditionally offered in the days following Eid Al-Adha, you'll find it served other times of the year for special occasions or as a family meal. The liberal use of spices, combined with the sweet addition of honey, was essential for preserving ample quantities of the cooked dish in the days before refrigeration.

  • 12 of 19
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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih
    Although very easy to make, this dish features an impressive combination of flavors, making it (and other dried fruit tagines) a popular choice for company dinners and special occasions. The meat is stewed with ginger, saffron and onions, then topped by prunes which have been simmered in a honey and cinnamon syrup.
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  • 13 of 19
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    Moroccan Chicken with Dates and Honey. Photo © Christine Benlafquih
    Similar to the dish above, this one combines chicken and dates. Fried almonds or sesame seeds are used to garnish and provide nutty contrast.
  • 14 of 19
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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih
    Apricots are a popular dried fruit in Morocco, and here they're used in a sweet and savory dish flavored with cinnamon, ginger and saffron. Beef or even chicken can be substituted for the lamb.
  • 15 of 19
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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    A classic pairing of chermoula-marinated fish and veggies. The ingredients are layered in a baking dish and then baked in the oven. Try to select a dish that can go from oven to table to make presentation a breeze. Although Moroccans tend to eat communally from the serving platter, you may prefer to plate portions of this dish for guests.

  • 16 of 19
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    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    If you're looking for a vegetable-based tagine that's sophisticated enough for company, this one is sure to please. Ginger, saffron and turmeric are key spices. In Morocco we use fresh peas and fresh artichoke bottoms which we clean and prepare ourselves. Reduce your prep work by buying frozen peas and artichokes at the grocery store.

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  • 17 of 19
    Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    An elegant sweet and savory dish that's sure to please family and guests alike.I like to prepare it in a clay tagine for traditional flavor, but you can also braise slowly in conventional cookware.

  • 18 of 19
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    Stuffed Puff Pastry Croissants. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    If you want to include a spread of starters for your special occasion meal, this list offers a round-up of recipes which work as appetizers, finger food and party food. Shown here are Sausage Stuffed Croissants. Many of the items on the list can be made in advance so that your cooking is minimized on the day of your event.

  • 19 of 19
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    Moroccan Fresh Fruit Salad. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Fresh fruit is the typical ending to almost every meal, but for company dinners you might be more inclined to prep the Moroccan Fruit Salad shown here. Afterward, you can offer coffee or Moroccan tea with an assortment of cookies, cakes and pastries.