Moroccan cuisine has long been considered as one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. The reason is because of the interaction of Morocco with the outside world for centuries. The cuisine of Morocco is a mix of Arab, Berber, Moorish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean African and Jewish influences. The cooks in the royal kitchens of Fez, Meknes, Marrakech, Rabat and Tetouan refined Moroccan cuisine over the centuries and created the basis for what is known as Moroccan cuisine today.
Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. While spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, many ingredients, like saffron from Tiliouine, mint and olives from Meknes, and oranges and lemons from Fez, are home-grown. Common spices include karfa (cinnamon), kamoun (cumin), kharkoum (tumeric), skingbir (ginger), libzar (pepper) , tahmira (paprika), anis seed, sesame seed, kasbour (coriander), maadnous (parsley), zaafrane beldi (saffron) and mint.
For Moroccans, a special meal means extensive preparation: a banquet for important guests may take a week to prepare and is overseen by the host and his sons with no women being present. The men squat on cushions around low, artistically laid tables and a silver ewer of perfumed water is taken around and poured over three fingers of the right hand of each guest before the meal starts and on finishing. There may be up to 50 different courses.
Usually it is the ladies of the house who cook the meals and they spend hours in the preparation. Again, there are no chairs but rolled carpets or cushions that serve as seats. The ladies dress in long colourful robes.
Every household in Morocco makes their own bread which is made from semolina flour. When the bread has been kneaded and shaped each family puts its own mark on it before sending it to the bakery for cooking.
A typical family meal starts with Bstilla which is a crisp pastry, rolled until it is extremely thin and filled with chicken in a mixture of a sweet and peppery sauce.
Next comes a typical brochette or kebab which is flavoured with beef or lamb fat. Following would be a Tajine which is chicken or a meat in a spicy stew which had been simmering for hours and served with bread. Next comes a course of Batinjaan, an eggplant or tomato salad.
Couscous, the national dish of Morocco, would then be served with meat and vegetables followed by slices of melon or fruit and pastries made with honey and almonds. Mint tea is then served at the end of the meal.