Cooking Moroccan : Uniquely Moroccan ingredients

Cooking Moroccan - Uniquely Moroccan ingredients

Fez Tangia Pots
What can be more original as the traditional clay Tangia Pots
presented here at the Souk of Fez

I know we are in the beginning of these series and my ultimate goal is to give you some motivation to start cooking Moroccan by giving you inspiration from time to time and some yummy recipes out of which I will do my best to go step by step, so that everyone starts from scratch and goes on to do more difficult dishes only later on.

But I think motivation is also key to this process and that’s why this time around, I’d like to present you with some very unique ingredients Morocans use for cooking or for seasoning.  When I first saw these Moroccan ingredients I was pretty surprised, therefore I hope you will find this article interesting and entertaining.

Also, thanks to globalization many of these Moroccan ingredients can also be bought in Europe, US or Asian Pacific ( or online) but if you happen to travel to Morocco and have a chance to do so, please check them out.  In the second part I will represent you with some pretty original cookware too.  

So, let’s see the list!

Traditional Moroccan Ingredients

Smen: Smen comes from the times when people generally couldn’t afford to have a fridge ( and when fridge was non-existent) and it was an effective way to keep fat for cooking around for a longer time. Smen is is basically fermented butter (which is made out of cow,sheep and even goat milk)  either made from pure butter or made with thyme or oregano and it’s very specific to Moroccan kitchen and as for its look and density it looks just like regular butter coming with a small, very specific flavor. Making smen is no big deal, what plays the biggest role ( as it goes with fermenting) is fermenting it the correct way, leave it totally undisturbed for a given period of time. Smen can be added to food or can be consumed just like regular butter on a slice of bread.  Smen looks exactly like butter or seasoned butter when made with herbs/ spices.

Khliyah - I have seen khliyah sold in Fez, generally in big plastic jars and when asking about it I came to know that khliyah is traditionally consumed during Iftar (Ramadan’s evening meal-time) Unfortunately I myself did not have the pleasure of tasting it yet, but khliyah is still a very popular food and it’s often consumed at many Moroccan households also other times than Iftar. This is a preserved meat stored in its own fat and they make them generally out of lamb, beef or even camel. Khlee can be added to boiled egg and any other dish ( the beany, saucy ones like tagine)  for an extra flavor.
The exact way Khliyah is sold in large quantities,
 especially before Ramadan

Warqa: Warqa is a very thin pasty that is generally more likely to be bought than done these days as it is a very time consuming activity which requires quite a bit of expertise. The best way to substitute it is spring roll paper or another thin cookie paper pastry which is generally used here in Europe but I still have to find its proper name ( I will update this part as soon as I got it :))

Harissa: Harissa is a very Arabic (originally Tunisian but now popular in all the Arabic world) spicy red paste generally used for cold dishes, salads or on any dishes after cooking and actually it’s an ingredient that’s available in the West as it’s pretty easy to pack and can be stored for a long time. Both Harissa and Harira are made out of peppers or chile peppers which are compressed and made into a sort of a pastry. Later on, I will include the recipe of Harissa it’s easy to prepare ( same with hoummus but hummus is traditionally not consumed by Moroccans so I have to come up with something similar done the Moroccan way ).

Harissa Paste
Harissa paste

Tangia: shame on me, I never got to taste this food during the times when I was in Marrakech the reason for that might be that this is traditionally a meal made by men for men, so all in all its male business. Hopefully I will do so when time comes. As the story says this meat is cooked on Thursdays in a covered clay pot having a shape similar to an urn(?) this is then pushed in between preheated coals that are still pretty hot and left there overnight. Then its taken out the next day and eaten after the Dhurhr ( midday prayer)  for Jummah ( Holy Friday) and it’s traditionally eaten for lunch. It’s just meat served without anything else (except for bread as Moroccans too do love their bread).

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

„L’Hamd Marakad” - Preserved lemons: I might have mentioned these in my previous article but these salty lemons are so unique in their preservation method ( as we generally do it with sugar if we do) that I had to include it on this list. Later on I will include a recipe on how to make these however in Morocco they make them with a special lemon which is a bit different in shape and attributes ( called limonette). Preserved lemons are generally used as an extra spice for saucy foods such as tagines.

I hope you found this article interesting. If you have any questions, notes, remarks or suggestions on what you would like to read about please let me know.

Special thanks to MarocMama and the one and only online Moroccan food expert Christine Benlafquih for their amazing work that keeps me inspired with my work over here. 


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