Moroccan cuisine is a reflection of the diverse cultures that come together in this Northern African country. The flavors comprise a blend of Berber, Arabic, Andalusian, Mediterranean, European and sub-Saharan characteristics, with spices and fruits combined in recipes for salads, soups, and stews, often with lamb or chicken, and couscous. While a modest Moroccan cook can create memorable meals using only a basic assortment of cookware and tools, middle- and upper-class kitchens in Morocco typically feature a wide range of tools, appliances, and cookware. These items are useful in preparing Moroccan food as well as dishes adopted from other lands.
The following list includes both traditional and modern cooking equipment, all of which are helpful in preparing and serving Moroccan food.
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A tagine is both a type of Moroccan cookware (the base doubles as a serving dish) and the name of the dish prepared in it. Although many recipes include instructions for cooking in a conventional pot, you'll probably want to purchase tagine cookware if you plan to make tagines even only occasionally. They're almost effortless to use, but require additional time for the traditional, slow-cooking process. If you purchase clay or ceramic, the tagine will need to be seasoned before its first use.
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These thin, round sheets of aluminum protect your clay or ceramic tagine from direct contact with the heating element, which can cause the tagine to crack. They also help to distribute the heat more evenly. You don't need an expensive one but you should buy a diffuser if you have a traditional tagine and intend to use on a stovetop.
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Charcoal Brazier (Majmar)
Although tagines can be used on a stovetop or in a slow oven, charcoal is the preferred heat source. Clay Moroccan braziers usually feature three "arm" supports, which hold the tagine high over the coals. If using a brazier that's relatively shallow, the temperature can be controlled by using a small amount of charcoal and "feeding" additional pieces as needed. Moroccan braziers can be used to display tagines, or as portable grills for cooking other foods such as brochettes. Note that small metal braziers, both round and rectangular, are also used in Morocco.
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Many homes have a sizable stash of skewers, enough to accommodate large extended family meals or holiday cookouts. Although they're easy to find year-round, you're most likely to see skewers prominently displayed in stores in the days surrounding Eid Al-Adha, when brochettes and other grilled meats are especially popular.Continue to 5 of 20 below.
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A grill basket with a handle is important to have in Morocco since most mejmars (charcoal braziers and grills) are modest set-ups without built-in racks. Once you start using one, you'll find it essential to many of your grilling needs, since it allows you to hold food securely over the coals and easily flip everything over as needed.
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This urn-shaped cooking vessel may look like a decor item, but its practical use is in making slow-cooked oven stews. As with a tagine, the name tangia refers both to the vessel itself and the Marrakesh-style stew prepared in it.
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These shallow, unglazed cooking vessels are primarily used to make fish tagines in the oven or over charcoal. While you can certainly use a tagine base for this purpose, a tagra is the cookware of choice for fish tagines in the north of Morocco.
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In Morocco, hardly anyone uses instant couscous. Instead, they steam the couscous several times in a couscoussier, which can be made of aluminum, clay, ceramic or stainless steel. This two-piece traditional Moroccan cookware consists of a base pot (called a gdra, barma or tanjra) for stewing and a large, deep basket (kesskess) for steaming. In addition to using them for dishes such as couscous with seven vegetables, couscoussiers are also used for steaming rice, spinach or mallow leaves (to make khoubiza), broken vermicelli (to make seffa), and shredded msemen or meloui (to make rfissa).Continue to 9 of 20 below.
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These large, heavy, shallow vessels are indispensable in Moroccan kitchens, where they double as workstations and serving dishes. A beautifully crafted wooden gsaa is increasingly hard to find; clay and ceramic are the standards (and more affordable) materials. The flat interior of a gsaa makes a terrific work surface for kneading doughs, shaping msemen or other pan-fried or baked treats, and the vessel itself is ideal for tossing and containing couscous while steaming.
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Tbeqs are rare outside of North Africa, but a list of Moroccan cookware would be incomplete without this traditional woven platter. It's used primarily as a work surface for hand-rolling couscous from semolina flour and water, a process that also can be done in a gsaa, in a large plastic basin or bowl, or on a large round platter. Lined with a towel, a tbeq can also be used to hold and transport freshly baked breads.
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Another traditional kitchen item, a tbiqa is the Moroccan equivalent of an old-fashioned breadbox. Available in various sizes, this cone-shaped two-piece basket is designed for the storage of khobz, or Moroccan bread.
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A Moroccan kitchen will have at least one large capacity sieve, but several sieves of different sizes and calibers are considered essential. The sieves are used when hand rolling couscous, for separating bran or impurities from whole wheat and other flours, and for sifting dry ingredients before baking.Continue to 13 of 20 below.
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In many urban homes, pressure cookers have replaced traditional tagines as the preferred method for everyday cooking. Moroccan kitchens are usually equipped with several pressure cookers of varying sizes. While convenient for quick family meals, pressure cookers can change the texture and flavor of tagines—and you'll usually get more sauce from a pressure cooker. In addition to stews and tagines, pressure cookers are used to rapidly steam meats and vegetables and to prepare rice and soups.
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Brazier Pot or Large Stock Pot (Tanjra)
Stockpots are standard cookware in almost any kitchen, but most Moroccan homes also have at least one extra-large capacity brazier pot or stockpot (tanjra). These are useful when cooking for a large family or preparing food for a social gathering or special event. The extra-wide bottom is helpful for reducing large quantities of vegetables or liquids.
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Proper tea service is a must in Moroccan homes, even if you don't drink mint tea or other kinds of Moroccan tea yourself. In following Moroccan etiquette, tea is offered to guests at all times of the day. A berrad need not be fancy but the tea should be served in glasses, not cups.
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Trays of assorted sizes are a part of the traditional Moroccan home, where beverages, snacks, and full meals must be transported from the preparation area to the dining area—typically, a low, round table surrounded by a sofa in the family or formal salon. This style seating is ideal for the Moroccan custom of eating from communal plates.Continue to 17 of 20 below.
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The custom of eating from communal plates requires several platters of various sizes, especially when seating guests at two or more tables or when offering a multiple course meal. Platters are also used to present communal salad medleys, fresh fruit arrangements, and desserts. An Asian-influenced peacock motif is a popular design in Morocco.
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Stovetop espresso makers are still fairly standard in Moroccan homes. Drink some Moroccan spiced coffee brewed in one and you'll see why. You may want to get mokas in two sizes: one for personal or family use, and a larger one for company. Consider purchasing a milk steamer and frother, too.
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Scented Water Dispenser
A scented water dispenser is not essential, but it makes a lovely decor and conversation piece and adds distinctive Moroccan flair to your home or party. The dispensers are filled with orange flower water or rose water, which can be shaken out of the dispenser to freshen hands before or after eating. Both these scents also have culinary value in Moroccan cuisine.