Moroccan cuisine explained by its flavours and its cooking cooking styles

Moroccan cuisine is a perfect picture that reflects the complex history of the Kingdom of Morocco and the intertwining of the different populations, cultures and religions, which led to a rich ethno-religious diversity. The local culinary culture of the Amazigh tribes, the original or native inhabitants of the country, has been enriched by the arrival of the Phoenicians and Jewish merchant navigators around the 5th century BC, then the Romans and Byzantines before the Arab-Andalusian influence intervened. to fill it all and make it what it looks like today. And Recently, during the 20Th century Morocco Also was a French colony so you will find many French dishes as well as many renewed recipes with some french twists.

The different roots of Moroccan cuisine, the richness of the local agricultural heritage as well as the network of commercial exchanges that has been existing for more than 25 centuries, all have contributed to garnish the Moroccan know-how in culinary culture, transmitted from generation to generation and from mother to daughter.

Regarding styles of Moroccan cuisine such as M’Qualli, Qadra, M’Hammar, Mchermel and Maassal (Tfaya), which are not the only specialties of Moroccan cuisine, but admitting that those are the most common across all the country, you can list much more techniques as well as fusions of two, three sometimes four techniques within the same dish … they can be described as follows:

M’Qualli: yellow sauce made with oil, ginger and saffron.

The word Means literally fried. Unlike western cuisine, the Moroccan M’qualli reverses the preparation process. The meat is first cooked in the broth to become tender before being fried until golden brown.

The obligatory spices are ginger powder, saffron and turmeric powder, which is the source of yellowish color in this preparation. M’qalli dishes can be sweet as well as they can be savory, or in many cases both. However, the imperative sauce for a successful M’qalli is to produce Daghmira (a thick onion sauce made by reducing the cooking broth). This cooking technique is usually used for special occasions like Eids (Religious holiday), Weddings, birth giving or for special guests …

Qadra: Yellow sauce, lighter than m’qualli sauce, made with onions, Smen (fermented salted butter), pepper and saffron.

Qadra is also the name of the Moroccan deep cookware (local pottery pot) special for this type of cuisine. Famous in cities such as Fez, Meknes, Marrakech and Rabat.

With a sauce that has more liquid tendency like a yellow broth coming from saffron and turmeric, Moroccans use specific spices for this preparation namely pepper, cinnamon, parsley and Smen, while paprika is formally prohibited for this style.

This will be considered the most casual cooking technique, it’s literally what Moroccans will prepare almost everyday, it is used in Tagines, Couscous, Merka and much more.

M’Hammer: red sauce made with sweet pepper and cumin.

The name literally means, made red, so as it sounds, the meat that has been made to red color during cooking. Usually, the meat is cooked without vegetables and the dish comes with various sides. In terms of spices, the basis of Mhammer is none other than sweet paprika and cumin as well as the often added garlic and ginger. At the end of the cooking process, the meat is taken out of the sauce to fry it or bake it, giving it a crispy appearance on the outside and tender on the inside. Mhammer is generally served during special ceremonies as well as on the Eid of sacrifice.

Mchermel: red sauce, measured mixture of the three above-mentioned sauces.

This type of cooking requires marinating the remaining meat, fish, chicken, or vegetables, and then using the marinade as a cooking sauce.

The mchermel sauce is usually red in color and well seasoned with herbs (Parsley, Coriander, rosemary, bay leafs … ) garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. This style calls for the same spices and herbs as those used in the famous Moroccan “chermoula”. used very often with fish, minced meat, soups … anything that cooks in a tomato sauce or prepared with tomatoes as a main ingredient.

Maassal (Tfaya)

As the name suggests, this dish is mostly sweet and sometimes even spicy. The main ingredients used to make a t’faya dish are onions, black pepper, saffron, cinnamon, honey or sugar. Almonds, chickpeas, sesame seeds and raisins are also added for some styles of Tfaya.

For the preparation, the onions are caramelized after a long cooking with honey / sugar with raisins. The caramelized onion-raisin can be served as a garnish or as a top couscous. T’faya is usually prepared for special occasions as a topping for some savory dishes or it can also be the base for some sweet dishes like M’rouzia.

  • Common points :

    • Slow cooking method for all types of preparation. Since we used only charcoal as the main source of energy Until the early 20th century when gas and other methods start being used

    • Mostly prepared with broth from meat or chicken.

    • Parsley, coriander, garlic, onion, preserved olives and lemons, lemon juice, eggs, hot pepper, sugar, honey, cinnamon, orange blossom water and more local ingredients are added to different preparations according to taste expected by everyone.


  • Differences :
    • One of the major differences between the styles of sauces mentioned above remains that saffron can be used in all dishes while paprika (sweet pepper) as well as cumin will never be added to yellow sauces (M’qualli and Qadra) .
    • M’hammar is usually decorated with almonds and eggs while in M’qualli we often use candied lemon and olives.
    • In our traditions, each of the previous preparations is more or less dedicated to certain specific occasions.

One Comment

  1. Dorothy Culjat

    Title should be Its flavors and its cooking style.
    No apostrophe as in it is, it’s. Very good and enlightening article

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