Marrakech is a place I’ve been longing to go to for sometime. I’m sure I’ll get there one day and when I do I’ll be trying out all these suggestions in this guest post from MasterChef Travel who, like me, are obsessed with finding the best in local traditional cuisine.
Just a three-hour flight from the UK, Marrakech is an ideal destination for a spring short break. The sights and smells of the Djemaa el Fna square and the souks can be overwhelming. To help you enjoy the best traditional food on offer here are our top 5 picks from this exciting city’s foodie hotspots.
BBQ on the square
The food on the makeshift stalls that set up on the Djemaa el Fna at dusk is much better than the cafes around the edge. Packed with locals and tourists alike, pull up a chair at the busiest – they have the freshest ingredients and cleanest oil – and take your pick of different grilled meats and vegetables. Sheep head, heart and steamed snails are popular choices among the Moroccans but kebabs, spicy Merguez sausages and grilled fish are also on offer.
Behind the square, just as you reach the olive-sellers souk, look for the counters with sheep heads balanced on earthenware pots for a not to-be-missed lunch. Skip the sheep heads and opt for the mechoui, which is lamb slow-roasted in hot ashes underground. Choose your preferred cut of the succulent lamb and devour with bread, olives and cumin salt. The crackling is like nothing you’ll have ever eaten before.
Le Grand Café de la Poste
Out of the medina, in the new town, is the ever popular Café de la Poste. Favoured among the French expat community, with its colonial art deco interior you could easily be in a Parisian bistro. All except for the cigarette smoke wafting around: Morocco hasn’t yet enforced a smoking ban. Choose from either French favourites such as croque monsieur or salad niçoise, or a Moroccan tagine or grilled fish.
Dine in your riad
While the Djemaa el Fna food stalls are well worth checking out, the food in the cafes that overlook it is generally fairly mediocre. Go there for a drink to watch the sun set over the souk but another option when it comes to dining is to head back to your riad for a dinner cooked by the dadas – traditional Moroccan ladies who work in the kitchen. Their authentic dishes are far better than anything you’ll find in a restaurant, and the peaceful courtyards are more relaxing than the bustling medina.
Once you’ve eaten your way around Marrakech, why not learn how to recreate your favourite dishes for yourself. Most riads offer a cooking class with their dadas, but we recommend booking yourself in at Dar les Cigognes. Learn the art of rolling couscous, make waca pastry and tour the markets with the head chef. You’ll find fresh ingredients, learn how to use them and try them on the riad’s sunny rooftop during a long lunch.
Thinking of visiting Morocco for the first time? Check out these essential 10 tips for first-time travellers to Morocco.
MasterChef Travel is a new collection of small-group food tours, focusing on the world’s great cuisines. Celebrating great food and its place in local cultures, the holidays will reveal the wonders of some of the most fascinating parts of the world, as well as broadening your culinary horizons.
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