One of the most enjoyable things about visiting Morocco is enjoying all the flavorful spices in Moroccan food. Rich and distinctive, these spices aren’t there to burn your mouth. They simply enrich the flavor of every dish they are in!
Flavorful Spices in Moroccan Food
Moroccan food is one of the things most people fall in love with when they visit Northern Africa. And one of the most important components of the Moroccan cuisine is the rich abundance of spices. Many of those spices – like pepper, nutmeg, and ginger – will be familiar to you even if you live in the US or Europe. But you may be less familiar with four of the most flavorful spices in Moroccan food – Cumin, Cinnamon, Turmeric, and Saffron. Read on to learn why you may want to add these spices to your pantry as soon as possible!
One of the more familiar of the flavorful spices in Moroccan Food is the friendly and aromatic spice Cumin. Cumin is a member of the parsley family. Native to Egypt, it is now grown in many of the hotter areas of the world, including China, India, and North Africa. This spice is commonly used in Moroccan cuisine – and is popular in Mexican and Indian cuisine, as well.
Cumin is a seed that brings a warm, nutty flavor to dishes. This popular spice is not hot to the tastebuds. Rather, it is rich, aromatic, and flavorful. It is a popular spice in tagines and stews, grilled foods, fish dishes, couscous, and many other popular Moroccan dishes. It is also delicious with lamb and chicken and is one of the most important spices in curry.
Cumin is one of the oldest spices and was used in ancient times, too. This spice is not only flavorful. It is said to possess certain medicinal qualities, particularly in regards to digestion issues and high blood pressure.
Cumin can be purchased as whole seeds or ground. For the most flavor, try toasting the whole seeds and then grinding them yourself with a mortar & pestle!
Cinnamon is the second most popular spice throughout the world, and one very flavorful component in Moroccan cuisine. It comes from the bark of Cinnamomum trees and has been used since Ancient times in food and in medicine. It was once rare and so highly prized that only the most elite in society had it. Thankfully, nowadays it is very common and easy to find.
Cinnamon is one of the most versatile spices around. It’s aromatic, spicy flavor is delicious in a variety of sweet and savory dishes and it pairs well with many foods.
In Moroccan cuisine, Cinnamon is a popular tea spice. Combined with oranges, cinnamon is an import part of an amazing and easy salad. Almonds and cinnamon are a wonderful flavor combination in melt-away cookies. And in savory recipes involving chicken, beef, or lamb, cinnamon adds a warm rich flavor. This is especially true when combined with some of the other spices found in this post – including cumin!
Turmeric is one of the most amazing spices in the world. It comes from the ground root of a large plant which grows in Central America and Asia and it is one of the leading spices in curry.
Sometimes called Indian Saffron or Golden Spice, Turmeric is not only flavorful. It is also known to have a number of benefits to your health. Turmeric can help with inflammation and pain. It may help improve kidney function, balance your blood sugar, and help ease arthritis pain, too.
Turmeric is one of the most important flavorful spices in Moroccan food and has been since the seventh century. Primarily used in tagines, it is also baked in certain pastries – like chebakia. Try it with lamb or chicken, particularly when combined with cumin and cinnamon. You’ll never want to be without it again!
Saffron is one of the most valuable spices in the world. It is cultivated from the blossoms of the Crocus Sativus – otherwise known as the “saffron crocus”. The plants grow in the Taliouine region of Morocco (as well as Greece, Iran, and India) and the harvesting process is so intense, Saffron can be quite expensive to purchase.
Made from the stigmas of the crocus flowers, Saffron has a very delicate appearance. But the flavor is strong, robust, and complex. It possesses a certain bitterness, yet is also reminiscent of honey. Thankfully, a little Saffron goes a long way, so a pinch or so is generally all you need for most dishes.
Saffron is used in many Moroccan dishes. It’s a key ingredient in chermoula and is used in many tagines and variations of couscous, as well. And since Saffron is grown locally, you may see it if you travel near the Atlas mountains. If you take one of the many Moroccan tours available, be sure to ask your guide to point out the pretty purple flowers so you don’t miss them. And be sure to purchase some Saffron to take home, too!
When visiting Morocco, you’ll have an added appreciation for the cuisine when you are familiar with the flavorful spices in Moroccan food. These spices provide a unique flavor profile you don’t want to miss. And if you can’t quite make it to Morocco for a visit yet, be sure to try some of these amazing spices when you can. It’s a wonderful thing to bring the flavors and aromas of Morocco right into your own kitchen!