When it comes to food, I love trying new things – but I think there’s more to understanding the cuisine of different cultures than simply eating their meals. Personally, I think following their dining traditions is also a big part of it. With that in mind, here’s my guide to having the ultimate Moroccan-style dining experience at home.
Why go Moroccan?
So, why have I chosen Morocco? Well, obviously I love its food, but that’s not the only reason. I think dining in a Moroccan style is a great way to do something different at home – and it also gives you a chance to play around with your decor!
That might sound a bit odd a first, but getting into the spirit of Moroccan dining means you should put aside your usual dining traditions – like sitting at the dinner table – and swap them for something a little less formal. In my opinion, this makes for a particularly brilliant dinner party with friends – maybe give it a test run with your partner, family or housemates first, then invite more guests once you’re comfortable with the style!
Moroccan dining: the essentials
OK, so I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to give it a go – but just what do you need to know and do to make it a success? Below, you’ll find useful tips on the two most important elements to get right.
First up, we have the food – the most essential element I’m sure you’ll agree! If you think you don’t know much about Moroccan food, I reckon that you’ll actually be familiar with at least some of the common ingredients and dishes.
For instance, one of the staples of the Moroccan diet is couscous – something often used in the UK as part of salads or to stuff peppers. Saffron, cumin and coriander are other common ingredients in Moroccan cooking, so you’re very likely to come across them in any recipes you decide to prepare.
Sweet and sour combinations are also characteristic of Moroccan cooking. Some of the most popular dishes you might come across – or may already be familiar with – include harira soup, which contains lentils and chickpeas, and tagine.
Tagine is a particular must, being a Moroccan classic. For the perfect effect, buy a tagine – a type of terracotta cookware, which the dish is actually named after – to cook this meat and vegetable stew in.
Setting the ambience
While getting the food right is vital, it’s also important that you set the right mood – otherwise, you won’t really be dining in true Moroccan style. First of all, get yourself a low-sitting table to eat at. This should be low enough for you all to sit comfortably on the ground and help yourself to food.
I also think it’s well worth investing in some Moroccan lighting, which is perfect for setting the ideal ambience. There’s a lot to choose from, including large, dramatic lampshades and floor lanterns (check out the range at Moroccan Bazaar for ideas), so you’ll have the freedom to experiment with different looks. Personally, I’d go for a floor lamp, just because I think that creates the perfect convivial mood.
Another option to consider is decorating the room with colourful Moroccan rugs and cushions, which are fantastic for creating a cosy atmosphere. You could also burn incense – another simple way to transform your home and set the right tone.