Morocco is one of the most diverse countries in Africa known for its mouthwatering cuisine. The diversity of Moroccan food culture, availability of fresh fruits, vegetables and highly prized organic, farm-fresh meats is has attracted the worlds leading chefs to write cookbooks on Morocco. Mario Batali, an American Chef, and food personality sited Morocco’s Paula Wolfert, as “the single most influential cook and author among the professional chefs of my generation. ” Batali claims, “her relentless search for authenticity has led the chefs to accept no compromises, and to create real food.” Wolfert’s cookbook ‘Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco,’ was been inaugurated into the Cookbook Hall of Fame at the 2008 James Beard Foundation Awards on June 8, 2008, at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York.
While Wolfert is now a household name for those that love Moroccan cooking, the chef didn’t always recognize Morocco as a culinary haven. In 1959, Wolfert came to Morocco for the first time with her then-husband. The couple focused on Tangier, which was known for its intellectual circles. “I didn’t go to Morocco for the food,” Wolfert said. “I came for the literary life.” The couple befriended many renown ex-pats like William S. Burroughs and Paul and Jane Bowles. It was fun but “I was misinformed.” Wolfert said, “I would (now) choose Marrakech over Tangier hands down.” Wolfert didn’t come to Morocco for food, yet left feeling inspired by the cuisine. In New York City, she was hired by Columbia Records to assemble “party recipe boxes” for officials sent from different countries. One of the boxes required her to contact the Moroccan Consulate General; the person she connected with was the Consul General. His mother, Khadija Jaidi, managed the kitchen for King Mohammed V. When an opportunity arose, the Consul General flew Wolfert to Rabat and she spent six weeks with his mother. Mrs. Jaidi helped her secure recipes from Morocco’s best cooks. The experience resulted in Wolfert’s Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco.
Wolfert’s passion for exploring Moroccan cuisine and ingredients did not end here. She returned to Marrakech years later to write a second edition. Her first stop was at Al Fassia. The restaurant, located in Marrakech’s French quarter Gueliz, is known for its traditional Moroccan cuisine of Moroccan salads and its signature dish of lamb’s shoulder that is cooked in a hammam oven for 24 hours. “We’ll start with the salads,” said Wolfert, “they’re supposed to be the best here…. sweetened cucumbers with thyme and orange-flower water, glazed pumpkin, fava puree.”
Morocco’s salads and other innovative dishes often get overlooked abroad. Often, only ceremonial dishes like Mechoui, couscous, pastilla, and tagine are served at restaurants. Wolfert’s favorite Moroccan chef to watch on Youtube, Choumicha Chafay, confirmed this same sentiment in an interview with CNN. “It’s really important to show the world the diversity of Morocco’s cuisine. I try to share it on my international cooking channels…..(my cooking is inspired by)…the leather goods, colorful pottery carpets from all different regions in Morocco. It reflects Morocco’s traditional and cultural heritage. In fact, Moroccan cuisine is very rich… and I try to reflect this in my dishes.”
Morocco is predominantly an agricultural country and particularly in central and mainland Morocco. Within the rural regions of Rabat, Meknes, Fes, and Marrakech, many culinary delights that original from organic farms are available. The region of Meknes and Essaouira have wine vineyards reminiscent of Napa Valley. Fes is a food capital with the heritage of Moroccan salads and many other types of cuisine originating there. Rabat, on the other hand, has become known for fusion cuisine while Marrakech, the cultural capital, seems to have it all.
Moroccan Summer Salads by Leading Chefs are perfect for foodies who are in search of a refreshing dish to brighten up their table. Our 7 Moroccan Summer Salad Recipes by local chefs at Morocco’s best riads and restaurants can set the tone for your table.
Mandala is a chic and stylish restaurant located in Morocco’s kite surfing capital, Essaouira. It serves quality food, great coffee, and has a unique “around the corner atmosphere. Travelers have expressed feeling “like family when they walk through the door. The food is delicious and is better than homemade, you feel the love of the products and that translates to really simple yet tasty food!” Restaurant co-owner Birta Árdal Nóra Bergsteinsdóttir shared that the restaurant felt like it was meant to happen. Originally from Iceland, she fell in love with Morocco over the years and created her base here. A little over a year ago, in spite of limited reserves, she and her husband opened Mandala. From the time they made their decision, almost overnight, the restaurant became the place-to-go in Essaouria’s busy medina. Mandala serves fresh and healthy dishes and is frequented by natives and first-time travelers to Morocco. It has an outdoor seating area perfect for people-watching near the Bab Sbaa gate entrance.
Quinoa Tofu Salad with Amlou dressing.
Birta shared her tasty Quinoa Tofu salad with Morocco Travel. “It isn’t a traditional Moroccan dish but it has all the best Morocco has to offer. The fresh local ingredients (except for the tofu) and the traditional Moroccan Amlou, consists of Roasted almonds, honey, and argan oil. Our quinoa is organic and locally grown.”
To remake at home:
1/2 cup Quinoa
Handful Cherry tomatoes
1/2 Beetroot, thin slices
150 gr Tofu
Butter or any cooking oil
3 Tbs Amlou
1. Cut tofu into cubes, drizzle them with sesame oil and soya sauce and let it marinate in a fridge overnight for best results.
2. Cook quinoa according to the instructions of your choice.
3. Cut green lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and avocado. It’s nice to keep to the cubic size of the quinoa.
4. Mix in the bowl with the cooked quinoa.
5. Cut beetroot in thin slices. Place the pieces on top of the salad or mix if you prefer.
6. Heat a cooking pan with a little bit of butter or oil. Toss in the marinated tofu cubes and sauté them until beautifully brown. Place the cooked tofu on top of the salad.
7. Finish with drizzling Amlou over the salad as a dressing.
Wine Pairing: The Thalvin Boulaouane Vin Gris is a light and refreshing Moroccan wine. It has a hint of floral and honeysuckle, raspberry and citrus, and long floral notes.
Address: Boulevard Istiklal 46, Mogador, Essaouira, Morocco
Riad 72 is an intimate boutique, design riad located in the Marrakech Medina. Italian owned, the design can best be described as elegance meets Moroccan chic. Their cuisine and the exceptional menu is inspired by Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi, an Israeli-English chef. In addition to its 72 uniquely decorated rooms, the property has an onsite restaurant. La Table du Riad is the place to dine for an organic farm-to-table meal with views of the historic medina from their delightful flowered terrace. The Riad 72 cuisine team works with the local farmers and selects the top seasonal ingredients to be interpreted by their chefs.
Blanched, peeled tomatoes
Toasted bread cubes
Boiled white Beldi egg
Beldi crispy yolk
How to Prepare:
1. Blanch a tomato, peel off the skin and slice it. Marinate it for a few minutes with salt, pepper, and basil.
2. Next, take the slices of slaoui zucchini marinated in a sauce of vinaigrette and herbs.
3. Cut several slices of avocado marinated with oil, lemon, salt, pepper, and basil.
4. Marinate boiled egg whites for a few minutes with olive oil, capers, salt, pepper, basil, and chives.
5. Add steamed couscous.
6. Cut white boiled egg with a knife and place between layers.
7. Insert cubes from baked crispy bread.
8. Cook the yolk for a few seconds with bread crumbs.
Wine Pairing: 2017 Laroque, Rose or Gris from Beni M’tir, Morocco. A clean rose with a solid fruit-forward nose and a high mineral finish.
Address: 72 Arset Azwel Bab Doukkala, Marrakesh 40000
Since 1946, La Maison Arabe has been a must-dine destination in Marrakech. The luxurious boutique property is split among multiple buildings with 26 rooms and suites along with private terraces and fireplaces, 3 restaurants, a piano bar, one of Morocco’s most reputable cooking schools. La Maison Arabe has been sought after by and served Charles de Gaulle, Ernest Hemingway, the Queen of Denmark, Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Jackie Kennedy, and even Winston Churchill.
In 1994, Prince Fabrizio Ruspoli, from one of the oldest aristocratic families in Italy, brought the property from Suzy Sébillon-Larochette to open the first foreign restaurant in the medina. Since Fabrizio acquired La Maison Arabe, his goal was to create a charming and luxurious boutique hotel. It’s interior sets the standard for a traditional Arabian Nights, Moroccan decor and is known for attracting interesting people. Its strong reputation has also been built on the legs of loyalty and consistency. Originally La Maison Arabe did not offer cooking classes, however, “Guests would always come in to watch the cooking. Later we created an onsite cooking school,” said the Prince. The Dada is a Moroccan head chef who introduces our guests to the secrets of Moroccan cuisine. Traditionally, Dadas are highly respected women who look after the children and do the cooking in families. Their cooking is based on age-old traditions that are passed down from mother to daughter.”
The following recipe is written by a Dada and also featured in the La Maison Arabe cookbook entitled, Moroccan Cooking, Our Dada’s Recipes.
Green Pepper Salad
1 Medium Green Pepper
1 Medium Ripe Tomato
1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Onion
½ Tablespoon Olive Oil
½ Teaspoon White Vinegar
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Other: plastic bag
1. Grill the green pepper over a gas burner, charcoal, or gas grill. Rotate the pepper as the skin closet to the heat blackens and blisters. Remove when the pepper has blackened completely.
2. Place the pepper immediately in a plastic or paper bag. Close the bag and allow the pepper to sweat for 10 minutes.
3. Scrape off and discard the blackened skin of the pepper. It is easily removed.
4. Cut the pepper lengthwise, remove the seeds, and dice.
5. Peel the tomato, remove the seeds, and dice.
6. In a bowl, mix the pepper, tomato, onion, olive oil, vinegar, and spices.
7. Serve this salad on a small plate along with crusty bread.
Wine Pairing: Cap Blanc is a white found on many hotel and restaurant menus. It has hints of grapefruit, honeysuckle, and minerals.
Address: 1, Derb Assehbé, Bab Doukkala, Marrakech Médina
Phone (+212) 5 24 38 70 10
Plus 61 is new on the block in Marrakech and created by Aussie owner Cassandra Karinsky. The restaurant has become one of Marrakech’s favorite dining spots for healthy and fresh cuisine. Retro chic meets contemporary Parisian café at Plus 61 with its clean lines and inviting ambiance of high ceilings and natural light. The artfully presented healthy dishes are served by attentive and friendly staff. Located in Gueliz, Plus 61 lets the ingredients speak for themselves. Locally sourced and in tune with the seasons, there’s always something fresh on the table. Most ingredients are locally sourced.
Cassandra Karinsky of Plus 61 shared one of her favorite Moroccan summer salad recipes that highlight watermelon, a fruit sought after in during the summer months.
Watermelon Feta salad
Watermelon rind (washed)
4 medium-size zucchini
200 grams feta
50ml extra virgin olive oil
For the pickling liquid-
100ml white wine vinegar
One knob ginger peeled and finely julienned
Handful basil leaves
Lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil for dressing
1. Thinly slice watermelon into shaved pieces – using the watermelon closest to the white rind, not the center, where it is more solid and no seeds. Put aside.
2. Slice the outer watermelon rind with inside white into 2ml slices. Place in a bowl and toss with salt, leave for 30 minutes then rinse with water and set aside.
3. Slice zucchini lengthways into 2ml strips, season with salt and pepper. Grill until just soft and set aside.
4. In a food processor, blend the feta until smooth, slowly adding 50ml of extra virgin olive oil until soft and fluffy.
5. Prepare ginger and watermelon pickling liquid – combine white wine vinegar, water, and 10grams salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
6. Once the liquid has boiled pour half over the julienned ginger, enough to cover. Let sit until ready to serve.
7. Place salted watermelon rind in the remaining pickling liquid, simmer for 6-8 minutes until soft. Leave to cool in the pickling liquid.
To assemble the salad – spread the feta thinly across the 4 plates with the back of a spoon. Arrange the grilled zucchini on top, followed by the watermelon. Dress with lemon juice and olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper. Place strips of the pickled ginger and watermelon rind on top followed by the basil leaves. Serve!
Wine Pairing: Médaillon rosé (Syrah), is a strong, full-bodied wine with a fruity and woody bouquet. It complements the sweetness of the watermelon.
Address: 96 Rue Mohammed el Beqal, Gueliz, Marrakech
Dar Roumana “Pomegranate House” is an 18th-century property located in Fes, Morocco’s culinary capital. The property holds a captivating history including being once being home to livestock, housing seven generations. In 2002 Dar Roumana was purchased by an American trained Chef named Jen. She fell in love with the house on a visit to Morocco. With the confidence of a Cordon Bleu diploma and a business plan, she began working on opening her dream boutique hotel. Dar Roumana was officially restored in 2007 and is now a traveler’s favorite destination for foodies who come to Fes. It is framed in a distance by lush olive groves in the Fes countryside and offers a peaceful refuge from the bustling Fes medina. The Dar Roumana restaurant’s Head chef is Younes Idrissi. All dishes are prepared to reflect the seasons and made using locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant has been compared to offering the finesse of a Parisian bistro and is recommended by the New York Times and Conde Nast Traveler. Dar Roumana features a Franco-Moroccan fusion menu with dishes like roasted pumpkin salad with tahini, yogurt, and fresh chili, braised local rabbit with seeded mustard sauce, and a sublime dark bitter chocolate tart.
Roasted Beetroot Salad With Local Ricotta, Fresh Pear & Balsamic Vinegar
Salt, Pepper & olive oil
How to prepare:
1. Cook the beetroot in the oven for 2h30 min at 180 Degree.
2. Wash the lettuce and dry it well.
3. In a salad bowl mix, the beetroot and the pear into small pieces after add Nuts and coriander.
4. Add salt & Pepper then olive oil.
5. Add ricotta cheese to the mixture ( small balls form)
6. Cut the salad ( Lettuce) in chiffonade and add to the mixture.
7. Dressing of your choice and top up with Balsamic vinegar.
Wine Pairing: The Halana Merlot is a deep garnet-colored wine. It has raspberry, floral (jasmine and violet), notes with a hint of spice. It is the perfect complement beet and ricotta flavors.
Address: 30 Derb El Amer, Zkak Roumane, Fez Medina 30110
Riad Idra a charming well designed, contemporary cocoon is tucked away in a quiet spot of the ancient city’s Dar El Bacha district. The Table d’hôte kitchen, led by Chef Abdel and his team, showcases the best of Morocco’s culinary art and traditions. The menu is inspired by Morocco’s diversity. From the Sahara Desert to the Atlas and Rif Mountains, Riad Idra draws from unique ingredients and world-old culinary methods to introduce guests to the Kingdom’s flavorful cuisine.
Sardine “The Chermoula” Way, Crispy Vegetables With Cumin
6 sardines filet
1 green pepper
2 soup spoons of olive oil
2 soup spoon of lemon juice
2 chopped garlic cloves
2 soup spoons of fresh coriander
1 tsp of cumin 1 tsp of paprika
How to make the Chermoula: 1. Mix all these ingredients together: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, fresh coriander cumin, paprika, black pepper, salt.
2. Marinate the sardines in the Chermoula and cook in the oven, wormed beforehand at 180 °c, for 2 minutes.
3. Cut the cucumber, tomatoes and green peppers in “brunoise” and add some olive oil, salt, black pepper, and cumin. Put the cooked sardine on the top.
4. Set up and decorate with some coriander flower and green salad.
Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from the Domaine Ouled Thaleb winery in Zenata, a new eco-designed city located between Casablanca and Mohammedia. The 100% Sauvignon Blanc is light, refreshing, and perfect pairing for seafood.
Address: Riad Idra, 105 Derb Tizougarine, Dar el Bacha, Medina
Palais Riad Lamrani is a twentieth-century guest house located inside the ancient Marrakech medina. It features a rooftop terrace with views of the Koutoubia Mosque and High Atlas Mountains. It is the perfect place to enjoy a pool and lunch day or drink some tea. The riad’s lush garden and 400m2 vegetation setting is a nice escape from the busy city and sun.
Atlas Local Salad
Green Salad 250g
Cherry tomatoes 50g
Apple (Gala) 1 piece
Chopped almonds 20g
Fresh cheese 50g
For the dressing
Basil 1 bunch
1. Wash, drain and chop the green salad
2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half
3. Reserve a few slices of apples then cut into small pieces
4. Add the rest of the ingredients (nuts, raisins, cheese, and almonds), reserve 2 nuts and a few pieces of cheese
5. Prepare the pesto sauce: mix the basil leaves with the olive oil, walnuts, salt and pepper
6. Mix the sauce with the salad
7. Decorate with a few slices of apples, cheese, and 3 half-nuts
Wine Pairing: A buttery Chardonnay by Thalvin’s Domaine Ouled Thaleb will complement the basil.
Address: Rue Sidi el Yamani, Marrakesh 40000