As we do to close out all the countries we visit, today we feature our Moroccan feast including a pre-dinner drink. For Moroccan starters we will be featuring a healthy and delicious soup, just full of Moroccan flavors. Our Moroccan food menu also includes one of Morocco’s most famous dishes, it’s a tagine and you can make it quite easily without a tagine pot. Moroccan dessert recipes are full of surprises and we will be featuring an easy, prepare-ahead, orange dessert.
We also discuss the vexed question of alcohol in Morocco. We sampled a number of locally-produced wines, and they were quite good. But, if you are planning to travel to Morocco and wish to drink alcohol, you need to prepare yourself mentally for the cost. The bottom line is, drinking alcohol in Morocco is expensive, even beer, I’m afraid. Especially, if you are used to the bargain price for wine in places like Spain, Portugal and Italy.
So, with that in mind we would like to introduce you to authentic, Moroccan mint tea. In the Moroccan climate, the slightly sweet mint tea goes beautifully. Our video explains how to make mint tea with fresh mint. But wait, there is a secret ingredient to authentic, Moroccan, mint tea. And make sure you watch the explanatory video for the correct method.
How to Make Mint Tea with Fresh Mint
When you arrive at any Moroccan hotel or riad, you will almost certainly be offered a refreshing glass of mint tea. Moroccan mint tea is slightly sweet and will already contain the sugar when it is served to you. There is never milk involved in the recipe. And, yes, there is a secret ingredient that surprises most people. It’s not just the mint Moroccan’s use to make the tea, but green tea as well! In fact, the green tea is the basis of the tea.
So, in fact, it is Moroccan, mint, green tea you will be drinking. Don’t worry if you are not a fan of green tea. Many people find it a little bitter or just an unpleasant taste. As part of the method for making Moroccan mint, green tea, the green tea is “cleansed” to eradicate the bitter/unpleasant taste of it. It’s ingenious and I can’t believe it has taken me this long to find the secret to good tasting green tea! And, with the addition of sugar and fresh mint to finish off the tea, you might just have found your favorite tea drink of all time.
What follows is a recipe and video of the method to make the Moroccan, mint, green tea. We filmed this at the fabulous L’Atelier Cooking School in Essaouira, a great little beach and port town on the west coast of Morocco. You will need a teapot (with built in filter in the spout) and kettle.
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To make mint tea with fresh mint for 10 small tea glasses, you will need approximately:
3 teaspoons green tea, 3 teaspoons of sugar (or to taste – but the tea will be slightly bitter if there is no sugar) and a good handful of mint (any kind except peppermint) which has already been rinsed, and boiling water in your kettle, ready to use.
Place the green tea in the teapot and cover with about a cup of boiling water. Place on the stove-top over a low heat. After about 5 minutes the leaves will have opened up, pour out the “dirty” water. This has the effect of removing the bitterness from green tea. Place the sugar and mint in the teapot with the “opened” green tea leaves and fill with enough boiling water for 10 small glasses. Make sure the mint is totally submerged in the water and place back on the hotplate. Boil for a further two minutes, uncovered. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for two more minutes. Pour a glass from a good height and then return the contents back into the teapot. Repeat two more times. (This mixes the sugar and oxygenates the tea.) Serve hot into tea glasses, pouring from a good height to get some bubbles on the surface.
Watch this video for the correct method:
Here is an article describing some of the history of tea in Morocco. It’s not a bad idea to embrace Moroccan mint, green tea as alcohol is expensive in Morocco.
Spirits, Beer and Wine in Morocco
Having previously enjoyed good quality wines in Spain and Italy at incredibly, cheap prices, it was a shock arriving in Morocco. Drinking alcohol in Morocco is not a cheap endeavor, whether it be beer, wine or spirits. The prime reason is the level of taxes levied on alcohol making it expensive. The average Moroccan certainly cannot afford to drink it, so it is really a tax levied on tourists.
Any imported alcohol has a tax of 100%, plus “sin” tax, plus GST, for a total of around 117%. Locally produced wines, many of which are very good, is taxed at 17% (“sin” tax plus GST).
Purchasing an inexpensive, local bottle of wine in a good restaurant in Morocco is in the order of $25 USD and quite often much higher. A good bottle of local wine is in the order of $40 USD and good bottle of imported wine is in the order of $80 USD and up.
The cheapest I ever purchased beer (Casablanca – a Euro-style, pale lager) in a bar was $5 USD for a small bottle.
As for locally-produced, Moroccan wine, it was actually quite good. Morocco currently produces about 40 million bottles of wine annually, of which only 5% is exported. Prior to the departure of the French in the 1950’s they were one of the world’s largest wine exporting nations! Surprisingly, wine has been made in northern Africa since Phoenician times but almost completely died out in Islamic times from around the 7th century AD until the arrival of the French and the Spanish.
Our favorite, Moroccan brand, was very reliable and usually around $30 USD per bottle in a restaurant for both the Cabernet (red) and Sauvignon Blanc. If you can get your hands on it, the Medaillon Sauvignon Blanc would go perfectly with our Moroccan feast, after you have enjoyed your Moroccan, mint, green tea (of course!). The Siroua Syrah was another good local red we enjoyed.
Be aware that in Morocco, food consumed in the family home is usually eaten communal style, with the food served on a platter. You will either use bread to dip into the food on the platter, or be provided with a spoon, depending what the food is. You can read more about Moroccan eating habits here.
In most restaurants, unless you specifically ask for the food to be served in courses, it will often arrive all at once. High-end restaurants do serve the food in courses, with a gap in between. Service was variable. In most high-end restaurants, wait-staff were well trained. In more family-style restaurants, don’t expect high end service. What you will get, however, are genuine people serving you who seem to enjoy their work. We often were able to strike up a good conversation with the wait staff, which added to our enjoyment.
So, onto our Moroccan Feast.
Moroccan Mint Green Tea
A surprisingly refreshing drink, particularly in the warmer months. It’s tradition to serve Moroccan, mint, green tea when your guests arrive. Refer to the recipe, instructions and video, above. A great way to put you in the mood for your Moroccan feast.
Moroccans treat many fruits as they would vegetables. This soup is sure to be a winner with all ages. You can prepare ahead of time so you only need to re-heat the soup before serving and apply the final garnish. Click on the link or picture to access the recipe.
One of Morocco’s most famous dishes, you can serve it either with couscous, or mashed potatoes for a gluten-free alternative. Another dish you can prepare ahead of time. You don’t need a tagine dish to make the tagine but they do look sensational for serving purposes. Click on the picture or the title to access the recipe.
A light touch to finish your Moroccan feast. Here are two alternatives for easy spiced orange, another dish you can prepare ahead of time. Click on the picture or the title to access the recipe.
If you enjoy hosting dinner parties, we have quite a number featuring food from different cultures. Click on this link to see what other dinner parties we feature from around the world. And, here is some information on how to start a regular, supper club.