|olives and chermoula|
Travelers to Morocco will find an incredible array of culinary delights to tempt their palate, with traditional dishes ranging from simple homemade Moroccan bread dipped in organic olive oil to impressive fusions of ingredients and flavors like couscous and tagine.
While many business travelers and tourists are satisfied with tasting these foods, be aware that you can plan a food-focused culinary tour in Morocco or at least try to look for traditional Moroccan cooking classes during your stay.
Of course, you can't board a plane with a hot tagine or couscous preparation, but what can you bring back from Morocco as a food product? It is always best to check the customs laws in your destination country or home country, but in general, dried, preserved, and cooked food is well packed in checked baggage. The following slides show what many Moroccans themselves choose to take out of the country when traveling abroad.
Be sure to pack all food products well and label the outside so that customs officers know what's inside. Do not forget to declare all food products on the customs documents that you must complete.
|Kaab ghzal (Gazelle Horn)|
Sweet things first! When you board a plane departing from Morocco, you will always see cookies carried by travelers and still packed in bakery boxes. This is the best way to ensure that traditional sweets like Kaab el ghazal (gazelle horn), Chebakia, and peanut slippers arrive intact, but if you want to pack them in your luggage, many stores sell inexpensive plastic containers that protect fragile candies from being crushed or tossed around.
Be sure to pack containers well, and stuff them with parchment paper or other filling materials to keep the cookies well packed in place for their return flight.
Why bring cookies home? Well, many of us like to give them as gifts, and the Moroccan family abroad is grateful to receive sweets from their homeland.
One of Morocco's most prized products is argan, a light hazelnut oil extracted from the kernels of the argan tree. This exquisite culinary oil is not only delicious in itself – just dip it in a piece of crusty bread – but a cosmetic-grade oil that is highly valued as a beauty product. Argan oil outside of Morocco is quite expensive, so it makes sense to bring it back with you for personal use or as a gift.
You'll want to secure the lid of the oil you put in your luggage (you can do this with tape) and then wrap the bottle firmly in plastic.
During your travels in Morocco, you will probably have the opportunity to
taste Amlou, a deliciously addictive spread made from argan oil, almonds,
and honey. It adds weight to your suitcase and as a delicacy, it doesn't
come cheap, but you may very well find the craziness to be worth it. Be sure
to seal the lid on the jar and then wrap everything in plastic wrap or a
Alternatively, use some of the argan oil you take home and make your own Amlou; it's probably a lot easier than you think!
This gourmet spice grows in the Taliouine region of Morocco, where it is grown for export and domestic use. Famous as the most expensive spice in the world due to the intensive harvesting process, saffron is considered an essential ingredient in Moroccan cuisine and is also used in many other cuisines.
You'll probably find it quite affordable in Morocco compared to supermarket prices at home, so be sure to take advantage and stock up.
Ras El Hanout
|Ras el Hanout|
The name of this famous Moroccan spice blend translates to "the head of the shop" in reference to the fact that it is the best product that a Moroccan spice seller () has to offer. It's a complex blend of spices and can vary from store to store, so you might want to buy small quantities from multiple stores to compare.
The sky is the limit when it comes to uses, but researching Moroccan recipes with Ras El Hanout will give you some ideas on how to add them to your kitchen. If you are not traveling to Morocco and want to try, consider buying Ras El Hanout online.
Other Moroccan spices and dried herbs
Saffron and Ras el Hanout aren't the only spices to stock up on, of course; Moroccan cuisine uses a number of other spices and herbs like ginger, paprika, cumin, turmeric, anise seed, cinnamon, fenugreek, and more. Everything will tempt you in the Moroccan spice market, and you will find them much more affordable and in larger quantities than what you are used to getting in a Western supermarket.
Ziplock bags will help retain flavor and freshness, but especially fragrant spices like anise and licorice should be in their own packaging; This is because strong flavors can leach into other foods, especially other ground spices.
Preserved olives, harissa, and other condiments
Of course, you can buy olives and harissa (a condiment of cayenne pepper) outside of Morocco, but nothing beats the flavors and prices of these preserves in their country of origin. Olives are extremely popular throughout Morocco, both for eating and as a condiment in ready meals, bread, and salads.
After tasting some of the many varieties available (Chermoula olives and Harissa olives are just two), you'll want to take them home for yourself and others.
Wrap the well-drained olives in several layers of plastic bags (ziplock bags work well) and they will be well stored in a suitcase. Placing the packaged olives in a plastic storage container will add an extra layer of protection and help avoid food odors in your packaged clothes. No need to worry about the lack of refrigeration for several days or more; they are kept and sold in open-air markets without the risk of spoiling. But refrigerate them once you get home.
Candied lemons provide the main flavor to many Moroccan dishes. and although they are easy to make at home, they will have to sit undisturbed for a month or more before they can be used. Nothing then beats the convenience of picking up some that are already ideal for cooking.
For a particularly pungent and tangy flavor, look for candied and aged lemons like the ones pictured in the photo here. They will probably be given to you in a fragile plastic bag. simply fix them in another bag or two or stick them in a jar or plastic container. Like olives, they will go well without refrigeration until you get home.
Khlii (or khlea) is preserved and seasoned Moroccan meat that is packaged in olive oil and fat. If you're already a jerky lover, there's a good chance you'll faint on Moroccan dishes such as Khlea and Eggs or Khlea and Lentils. Look for khlea beef as opposed to lamb, as the latter can be very gamy or off-putting in flavor.
Vendors in the old medina of Fez are famous for their khlii but you will also find them in other cities. It will be packed in a plastic container for you, but be sure to add another layer of plastic bag or wrap around it for extra protection.
Smen is salted candied butter. You will see that it is unpleasantly described as rancid, stinky, and more, but in truth, this very pungent condiment adds a unique flavor to many traditional dishes. (And no, the end result is not unpleasant or off-putting at all!) You'll want to try — and you'll probably enjoy — Couscous Smen, Harira, and Rfissa. Be aware that a little goes very far, so just a teaspoon is often enough to do the trick.
Nevertheless, some Moroccans eat it as a spread, but these hard-line traditionalists are now rare and spaced out.