Tfaya: Moroccan Caramelized Onions With Raisins

Couscous with tfaya garnish
Trevor Huxham/Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
397 Calories
12g Fat
75g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 397
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 31mg 10%
Sodium 238mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 75g 27%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Total Sugars 52g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 14mg 70%
Calcium 90mg 7%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 741mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This classic Moroccan garnish of caramelized onions and raisins is sweetened with honey and seasoned with aromatic spices of ginger, saffron. and cinnamon. Tfaya is popular as a topping for couscous or meat dishes, but you might also like to present it over rice, grilled meats, roasted poultry, or even vegetables. You may love it so much you will find even more ways to use it that stray away from Moroccan cuisine.

Although there are references to tfaya which clearly cite red onions, in practice any onion might be used. You can use yellow or white onions if you have them available. The addition of orange flower water is optional and you can substitute rose water for it.


  • 1 cup raisins

  • 2 pounds (1 kilogram) onions

  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons orange flower water, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Place the raisins in a bowl and cover them with water. Set the bowl aside to soak for 15 minutes or longer. Drain the water before using the raisins.

  2. Peel and thinly slice the onions. Transfer them to a pot or skillet along with the drained raisins, butter, honey, spices (pepper, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, saffron, salt), and water. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and simmer for a half hour or longer, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and golden. Add more water only if the liquids evaporate before the onions are cooked.

  3. Once the onions are buttery soft and richly colored, heat to reduce the liquids to a thick syrup. Stir in orange flower water to taste. Remove the caramelized onions from the heat and set them aside until needed.

  4. You can reheat the tfaya if desired.

The tfaya can be used immediately or allowed to cool and then kept in the refrigerator until it is needed. It should last for about a week when refrigerated.

When serving tfaya with couscous, you will spoon some on top of the dish when it is finished. You can serve it alongside meat as a condiment.

If you have some left over, experiment with using it in in sandwiches (including grilled cheese) to add a wonderful flavor. It also goes well with scrambled eggs for breakfast. As well, you can serve it alongside cheese, crackers, fruit, and nuts as part of a cheese board.

Onions mezgueldi is a similar Moroccan onion condiment, that is made by stewing or baking the onions with spices, omitting the raisins. It can be either sweet or peppery.