Moroccoan cuisine is a tasty melting pot of different cultures with heavy influences from the Mediterranean, Arabic, Berber, and Andalusian cuisines. Its traditional dishes are a unique blend of spices, fresh vegetables and fruits and, of course, meat and fish. But that doesn’t mean that vegetarians will have a hard time in Morocco.
A typical Moroccan meal begins with a selection of hot and cold salads prepared with raw and cooked vegetables. This is followed by the traditional tajine, a meat and vegetable stew prepared in a cone-shaped clay pot. The specific ingredients of the tajine (which also include an array of spices) will differ depending on regional and seasonal variations. This is eaten with bread, a round Moroccan khobz, which also serves as a utensil. The meal ends with a cup of mint tea which is prepared with green tea, sprigs of fresh mint and lots of sugar.
Within these traditional meals, vegetarians have a number of delicious options in Morocco. Growing tourism in the country has made the food industry much more aware of vegetarianism, adapting many of Morocco’s most traditional dishes to vegetarian diets and creating new ones to accommodate to all travelers’ needs in Morocco.
Morocco for Vegetarians
Tajine au legumes, for instance, is a delicious take on one of Morocco’s most traditional dishes. Prepared with a variety of vegetables – which can include carrots, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, and more – this tajine is 100% meat-free and 100% Moroccan with delicious spices enhancing its flavor.
Couscous is another staple of Moroccan cuisine that vegetarians don’t have to miss out on. Traditionally eaten on Friday’s and special occasions in Morocco, couscous is prepared with slowly cooked vegetables and meat. But, again, a veggie-friendly option that is becoming more prominent in Moroccan restaurants is a couscous with vegetables, served completely meat-free.
Finding vegetarian food in Morocco is only easy if you know where to look. In Marrakech, La Famille is a beautiful vegetarian restaurant open for lunch daily (except Mondays). Riad Zam Zam has excellent vegetarian food as well as the ability to cater to those with different dietary restrictions such as gluten-free. In Fez, veggie travelers will want to stay at Riad Dar Dmana where vegetarian meals are served for dinner. During the day, head to Café Clock for vegetarian options. In Essaouira, you can check out La Petite Perle or the restaurant at Lalla Mira hotel for good vegetarian dishes.
- Choose to stay in a riad with a restaurant. Riads are traditional Moroccan homes repurposed as boutique hotels or guesthouses. Some of these have restaurants and the staff there will easily cater to your dietary requests.
- Fill up on breakfast: A traditional Moroccan breakfast includes bread with honey or jam, omelets, Moroccan pancakes and crepes. So, in a last case scenario, if you’re afraid of having a hard time finding vegetarian dishes during the day, you can always count on a hearty breakfast to keep you full for hours.
- Shop the local markets: If you happen to be staying in self-catering accommodation, shopping the local souks will be both a fun and useful way to ensure all your meals are veggie-friendly. You’ll find all kinds of interesting spices and oils to season your vegetarian dishes, but you’ll probably need to gain some bargaining skills first!
- Carry a phrasebook in French and Moroccan Arabic. It will come in handy if you need to clarify the ingredients in a specific dish or if you need to make a special request at a restaurant or café.
- Go international. If you don’t find any veggie options in Morocco you can still travel through this incredible country without going hungry. Morocco’s major cities feature plenty of French, Italian and Spanish restaurants that can offer other kinds of veggie dishes.
Traditional Vegetarian Moroccan Foods
- Taktouka – cooked salad with tomato and peppers
- Zaakook – cooked salad with eggplants and tomato
- Moroccan salad – cucumber, tomato and lettuce salad
- Vegetable Tajine
- Vegetable Couscous
- Bs’sara (a fava bean soup)
- Harira (a soup, can be with or without meat)
- Loubia – stewed white beans in spices
- Ad’das – lentils cooked in tomato sauce with spices
- Ma’akouda – potato patties with spices, fried and eaten in a sandwich
These are a few menu items you may find that are vegetarian. If you don’t see them on a menu, you can ask. Often times some of these items aren’t on offer but if you ask, they can be found. Unfortunately many Moroccans feel these foods are too “low class” and tourists wouldn’t want to eat them.
Whether your’e a carnivore or omnivore there are plenty of food options when you’re in Morocco. We can help you make sure you not only see amazing things but eat well! Let us help you start planning your visit today.