The flavours of the souks
Most people who have visited Morocco would have spent some time strolling through the souks. Even though the smells of the souks might not always start your appetite (when close to the tanneries for example). But it is often in the small little alleys of the souks where you can find the most amazing meals. From low budget food stalls, to top class restaurants. In this post you will find all the veganised Moroccan recipes inspired by these travels.
This post is part of my ‘travels of taste‘ series.
Moroccan food is typically a mixture of Berber, Arab, Andalusi and Mediterranean cuisines. With some European and sub-Saharan influences.
Morocco was well situated on the ancient spice-routes. Therefore spices are used extensively in Moroccan cuisine. In fact the famous Ras-al-hanout is a spice mix of sometimes up to 27 different spices. But don’t be fooled by thinking that any spice can be used at any time. Since there is a very specific usage, almost like a codification for every spice-use. So using the right spice mixture is an art form within the Moroccan cuisine. The most commonly used spices in Morocco are;
- sesame seeds
Equally herbs are of great importance in Moroccan recipes. Most used herbs include; Mint, Parsley, coriander, peppermint.
Vegan food in Morocco
Veganism is not (yet) a big thing in Morocco. Traditional dishes are most often not vegan. But having said that, there is an enormous range of flavoursome salads (hot & cold) to be found which are mostly vegan. In general people are used to cater for vegetarians, but less so for vegans.
Even though a dish might look vegetarian or vegan, often animal stock and smen or butter are used.
So that is exactly why I want to take you on this Moroccan voyage in which we taste the cultural traditional foods while keeping our CO2 footprint in mind. > vegan Moroccan recipes.
I have veganised the most popular and common Moroccan dishes. While tasting the flavours of this colourful culture we can imagine ourselves walking through the hustle & bustle of the souks.
Start your day good! Moroccan breakfast
Morocco has a great range of breads that you might find on your breakfast table.
The delicious Behrir; Tender, spongy, melt-in-the-mouth pancakes. Traditionally topped with a mixture of butter and honey, but as delicious with jam or maple syrup. For me they are an unmissable part on a Moroccan breakfast table.
Rich Msemen; A great way to start an energetic day. Traditionally these delicious Msemen are full of butter (between every layer). For the vegan option I often just substitute this with olive oil, but in this recipe I used vegan butter instead. This does give it that extra richness.
Batbouts, the Moroccan pita; Most often this bread is used as sandwich bread, but sometimes it is served on the breakfast table with sweet spreads.
Morocco’s most popular bread, Khobz; Used throughout the day, with every meal. And often seen on the breakfast table.
Various flavoursome Moroccan recipes
Moroccan dishes are an adventure, an experience more than just feeding your body. Traditionally everything is shared from the same pot, without individual plates. The Moroccan recipes, the cooking and eating is a huge part of daily life, and brings people together.
The Moroccan cuisine is distinctive, very different than most other Mediterranean cuisines. It is all about mixing, and cooking multiple ingredients at the same time using specific cooking techniques. Moroccan dishes should have clear layers of different flavours with ingredients cooked to perfection.
Even though it is not the precise recipes that are shared throughout generations, but more so the specific ‘cooking-styles’. Every cooking style goes with a certain spice usage, and colour. You can’t learn Moroccan cooking by reading Moroccan recipes alone. Only by doing, understanding and getting a ‘feel’ for the dishes you will achieve this. So just start cooking 😉
A few of my favourite Moroccan recipes, veganised
The magical world of the tagine. The tagine is an important part of Moroccan cooking. And I would definitely recommend to buy a tagine if you don’t have one. It is the clever way of heat circulation within the tagine that cooks the ingredients to perfection. You can buy tagines online, or from African stores where they are very inexpensive.
Vegan ‘kefta’ tagine; Probably Morocco’s most popular dish. A kefta tagine are meatballs served in a delicious tomato sauce. So to veganise this dish I just had to change the meatballs to ‘non-meat’ balls.
The famous vegetable tagine; With the use of local and seasonal vegetables. It is all about getting the balance and layering of the flavours just right. The vegetables cooked soft, but still holding their body. No stirring allowed.
Incredible delicious vegan bastilla; It wasn’t easy to veganise the incredible bastilla. To get the texture to perfection without the usage of eggs took some trials & errors. Therefore I am even more pleased with the outcome of this recipe. Tested and approved by a great lover of the original pigeon bastilla 😉
The well-known 7-vegetable couscous; Once you tasted the traditional couscous steamed above its stock and vegetables, you will never eat instant couscous no more. It will take some time, but you will be rewarded.
Hearty Harira; This soup is a great starter, light snack, or a lunch served with some khobz bread. Harira is traditionally eaten during Ramadan, but is as much enjoyed the whole year around.
Staple salad Zaalouk; It had to be included in my recipes. This salad, served hot or cold, is served with many meals. Or sometimes as a dip with some bread. A very popular salad for many occasions.
Morocco, the country of the sweets
Sweets are an important part of Moroccan daily life. Therefore at any time of the day, or month of the year you will see them in abundance. From breakfast time, snacking throughout the day and with dessert, sugary good are always part of them. I always get very strange looks when I ask for mint tea without sugar. And often it is impossible to get, as the mint tea has been brewing with the an enormous dose of sugar already added.
Even though I don’t have a sweet tooth myself, this travel though Morocco wouldn’t be complete without sharing some of my favourite Moroccan sweets.
Easy & delicious stuffed dates; These stuffed dates are particular popular during the month of ramadan, during which these sweets are served to break the daily fast. But a quick delicious snack at any time of day.
Almond briouats; In Morocco you can find many versions of briouats. They can be filled with meat, seafood, or like this one with a sweet almond paste. Traditionally they are fried, but in this recipe I used the slightly ‘lighter’ cooking technique by baking them in the oven.
Orange and almond cake; Probably one of the most popular cakes. This cake is very moist and slightly sticky. It provides for a easy sweet treat after an flavourful Moroccan meal.
Drinks to have with Moroccan foods
The most popular drink in Morocco is Mint tea (with lots of sugar). Also various fresh fruit juices are consumed. Most Moroccans are Muslim and therefore don’t drink alcohol. But as most of us will enjoy these recipes from home, I did want to include some wine suggestions.
Moroccan food is very spicy and sometimes sweet, which makes it difficult to pair with wines. I have experienced that spicy dishes without being strongly sweetened (like the kefta tagine and vegetable tagine) go very well with a Syrah dominant, Chateau neuf de pape. For dishes in which many dried fruits and sweeteners are used a sweet Vouvray would match perfectly.
Create a Moroccan atmosphere in your own home. Not only with the use of our senses but also with our imagination we should be able to travel the world without moving. Hoping that our skies stay clearer from pollution. But our connection remains by diving into each others food cultures. What better way to share pleasure!