I have always said that cuisine reflects the culture, traditions and even history of each country. And while preparing this article, I myself learned new things about the history of my country.
Throughout its history, Morocco has been a crossroads of civilizations: Berber, Arab-Andalusian, Jewish, European, Ottoman.
Pastilla, for example, which is pronounced “bastilla” in Morocco, is a dish very popular especially at weddings and special events . According to Anny Gaul (American historian of food specialist in the Arabic-speaking world): “If you look at the written records and the recipes that we have from Al-Andalus, you find that there were dishes very similar to Bastilla. There are a few things that suggest this dish is of Andalusian origin, In particular the combination of ingredients and spices. However, the Andalusian roots are not enough to explain everything about the history of the dish.The way that the pigeon, eggs, herbs and spices are cooked today is the same as the way made in Al-Andalus, according to the recipes we have. Nevertheless, the way it is wrapped in “werqa” (sheet of Brick a kind of spring roll dough) was most likely added later, as we have no evidence that this type of very thin dough was used in Al-Andalus ”. What according to Anny Gaul can be explained by the influence of the Ottoman Empire, “the Werqa” (brick sheet) used to wrap the Pastilla, “is very similar to that used for Baklava and in a few other Turkish sweets”.
“There is also Ghriba, which can be found in Egypt and Lebanon, and this is probably traveled with the Islamic Empire “, I think here she is referring to” Ghriba Bahla غريبة بهلة “. There is also the example of Trid, which is another dish brought to Morocco with the Arab Islamic conquest. It is very similar to a dish called Tharid, which comes from the Arabian Peninsula.
Moving on to tagine, this emblematic dish of Maghreb cuisine which is of Berber origin, and which designates this terracotta dish in which food is cooked. The pointed shape of the lid has been designed to allow cooking without water, vegetables and meat, which are thus stewed which allows all the flavors of the food to be preserved. There are a lot of tagine recipes that contain meat, vegetables, or even sweet and savory, the ones I like the most.
And to digest it all, a good glass of mint tea (atay اتاي in Moroccan), which is served at any time of the day. A true art of living, which however in the past was reserved for the sultans and nobles
According to Wiki Morocco is today one of the largest tea importers in the world. Because tea is not cultivated in Morocco, it usually comes from China. But according to history it was the British who introduced it to Morocco during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail.
I cannot end without talking about Latifa Benanni-Smires, the first Moroccan woman to write a Moroccan cookbook called Moroccan cuisine, launched in 1970, was reissued in 2001. She defends good family cooking. A book that my mom kept preciously. According to her, Moroccan recipes vary little from one region to another.
Now that you have a bit of a long idea, I admit it 😅, about the history of Moroccan cuisine, let’s go to the recipe of the day. A delicious tagine with chicken, caramelized apricots, almonds and orange blossom.