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Known for its aromas, spices and the hospitality of its inhabitants, this destination in North Africa is more and more coveted for its cuisine. An art intimately linked to the history and customs of the country.

From international rankings, Moroccan cuisine has become one of the attractions of the Cherifine Kingdom which has just been declared the second country for its gastronomy by the British site Worldsim, which collects the opinions of travelers. All praise the variety of dishes, which come from many backgrounds and influences. It actually reflects the complex history of a country and the different populations that lived there. Between the spices brought by the Arabs, the dates and cereals imported by the Bedouin nomads of the desert and the couscous which includes sub-Saharan, Jewish, and even Asian colors … A multitude of influences have given rise to an extremely rich cuisine, which finds also its footprints in Turkish cultures (importers of the famous méchoui) and Andalusian. Indeed, after the Arab-Muslim conquests of the seventh century, the Moors (commonly called Muslims) left Andalusia, bringing to Morocco their inheritance.

A know-how that is transmitted through the generations

The richness of Moroccan cuisine also comes from ancestral know-how, which has always crossed generations. In fact, there are grandmother’s tricks that once allowed food to be preserved. They invented the smen, a rancid butter made from salt and oregano, known for its strong taste; khliî, a spicy dried meat from Fez found in every home. Finally, the amlou made from Argan oil, this fortifying served at breakfast as a spread. Since then, this kitchen is exclusively the domain of women. Most of them do not read cookbooks and do not follow precise dosages. They reproduce the gestures of their mother and their grandmother. And it is precisely this personalization of the preparations that gives this infinite number of variations, appearances for the same dish. So, one couscous will never look like another.

Traditionally, the meal starts with raw or cooked salads or cold mashed vegetables. The dishes often mix sweet and salty, with meat and fish seasoned with cinnamon, saffron, ginger or coriander. The pastries are finally the aromas of orange blossom and honey, usually served with a mint tea.

But, unlike the English and their tea-time, Moroccans drink tea at any time, for any occasion, to host a host or simply drink. This tradition of mint tea is not the most ancient, it did not arrive until the middle of the eighteenth century in British cargo.

Between urban cuisine and gastronomy

Moroccan cuisine consists of inexpensive products. Spices, herbs and water of flowers can turn any dish into a real treat. In recent years, specialists have wanted to give this a priori simple food a gastronomic seal, popular with gourmets. The three-star chef Yannick Alleno has managed to modernize Moroccan dishes in the very luxurious Royal Mansour hotel in Marrakech. The creator of MarrakChef, Ludovic Antoine, wanted, for his part, to bring Moroccan gastronomy on the international scene, through competitions also organized in Marrakech.

In Paris, chef Fatéma Hal shines his cuisine in his restaurant “Mansoura”: “It’s a very rich world. Between a sometimes regional cuisine, sometimes bourgeois city, through that of the poor so rich in taste. Moreover, street food is of interest to tourists, while that of big cities reveals the secrets of a country that has not finished surprising. The micro climate also brings the quality of the products, between sun and freshness. Morocco offers a richness and diversity in its dishes, its ancestral techniques. The cuisine of the street interests the tourist and that of the imperial cities reveals the secrets of a country that has not finished surprising.

The recipe for the sweet sesame pastilla of Fatéma Hal

Preparation: 45 min. Cooking time: 30 min. Ingredients for 4 people: 250 g sesame seeds, 500 g blanched almonds, 175 g honey, 250 g caster sugar, 150 g butter, 10 pastry sheets, 1 tablespoon peanut oil and 1 tablespoon of orange blossom.

For the garnish: toast the sesame seeds in an oiled pan, crush them roughly (without mashing them) and pour into a salad bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Brown the almonds in the same pan, crush them, add them to the sesame seeds, as well as the sugar, the orange blossom, 2 tablespoons of honey and mix.

For the pie: light the oven at 150 ° C (item 5). In a buttered pie dish, lay 6 sheets of pastry over them, brushing them with butter. Put the almond stuffing in the middle and close the pie by folding the leaves towards the center. Butter the remaining leaves and cover the stuffing to close the pie.

Cooking: slide the pastilla in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, immediately sprinkle with honey and serve hot or cold.