Morocco and Moroccan cuisine are famous for their spices and flavorful food. Spices that are traditionally used for cooking Moroccan sauces makes them a desirable treat for any foodie. For example, comparing Moroccan food’s flavor palette to the staple of worldwide cooking, French cuisine, it is easy to spot the difference. Moroccan cooking is about freshness of ingredients, rich but not creamy sauces and strong, (but not overpowering) aroma combinations based on spices like ginger, saffron, turmeric,cumin and cinnamon as opposed to Mexican or Chinese cuisine. Moroccan sauces and cuisine is in some ways similar to very mild version of Indian cuisine: both use similar spices; however Indian cooking is much heavier on the spices and a lot more spicy.
We will introduce you to the 5 most popular Moroccan sauces today. From the all-purpose chermoula to a simple tahini sauce there is something for everyone.
Chermoula spicy sauce is often served with fish, however it tastes just as good with meats too. This sauce can also be used as a marinade or a salad dressing. If the sauce is used as a garnish, it’s better to make it in advance to allow some time for flavour development – it would taste much better. If you are using it as marinade for fish or chicken – just rub its surface and put some of the sauce inside too and leave proteins for 30-60 minutes before roasting. If using it as a salad dressing, you would need to add a bit more oil to it, together with 2 tablespoons of white wine, and gently heat the mixture in a frying pan for a couple of minutes.
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- 2 cloves, garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon chopped parsely
- 2 tablespoon chopped cliantro
- salt, pepper
- Warm up the cumin and coriander in a frying pan for 30 seconds. (Warming up spices intensifies their aromas.)
- Add salt, garlic, spices, lemon zest and herbs to the food processor. Blend well, then add olive oil and lemon juice and blend until it forms a thick paste. Original recipes call for a pestle and mortar for mincing herbs, garlic and salt, but we think that a food processor works well too.
- Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Moroccan mint sauce
This is probably one of the simplest Moroccan sauces. It works beautifully with spicy and roasted meats, especially Moroccan lamb. Mint and yogurt work as palette cleansers for spicy food and also bring the heat down for really hot dishes.
- 1 cup greek Yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic
- 10-20 mint leaves
- Mash garlic with mint and salt using a pestle
- Mix with Greek yogurt
Matbucha or matbucha is technically a dish, rather than a sauce. Its name comes from Arabic and translates as “cooked salad”. Nevertheless, we think that this dish is a beautiful condiment and therefore can be served as a nice rustic looking sauce with meats.
- 4 large sweet tomatoes
- 3 onions, sliced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 deseeded red chili pepper, chopped
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- olive oil
- Heat up the pan with some olive oil. Add onions, paprika, chilli, bell peppers and garlic.
- Peel the skin off the tomatoes by putting them into boiling water for a minute – the skin will peel off easily.
- Chop tomatoes into chunky pieces and add to the pan.
- Cook slowly for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Season with salt, add spices and continue cooking for 3 hours on the lowest heat.
Spicy Moroccan tomato sauce
This sauce can be served warm or cold and it goes extremely well with chicken. It can also be used as a dipping sauce or just as a side dish, and can also be used for mixing in with couscous. Add a bit of Mina harissa to it at the end for some extra heat.
- 1 can tomatoes
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
- 1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cinnamon pinch
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- salt, pepper
- Heat up some olive oil in a frying pan. Add garlic, ginger, onion and spices to the olive oil and sauté on a slow heat for approximately 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add vinegar and continue cooking for 1 minute.
- Add brown sugar and chopped tomatoes.
- Cook for approximately 30 minutes, while stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
- Leave it to cool and then transfer to the food processor and blend into a smooth paste.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste
Tahini is a condiment of eastern Mediterranean cuisine and it spread to other regions too, including Morocco. Tahini is served with dishes of Moroccan cuisine extremely often and therefore, even though it doesn’t have Moroccan roots, it is a very important dish for the cuisine. Tahini is normally served as a dipping sauce with some olive oil on top or as a condiment for lamb and other meats.
- 1 cup tahini paste made of light colored seeds
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ¾ cup warm water
- Put all ingredients into the bowl and whisk until the sauce becomes very smooth. Alternatively use a food processor for this step. If the sauce seems to be too thick, add some more water at the end, 1 teaspoon at a time until it reaches a desirable consistency.
The majority of the sauces listed above wouldn’t take much time to cook, however sometimes it may be problematic to find all the ingredients to make a perfect sauce. In this case Mina sauces have proved themselves to be extremely handy. These sauces are based on all natural ingredients, cooked according to the authentic Moroccan recipes and are also incredibly aromatic and tasty. They are ready to be cooked with, have all the necessary spices in them, and therefore save time on cooking if you want to prepare a delicious meal, but have no time to cook a wonderful sauce.