Not only is couscous the national dish of Morocco – it also originated there! You’ll find this tasty grain throughout much of North Africa, as it’s a dietary staple in the region. Couscous is typically prepared on the Muslim holy day (Friday) and for special occasions, but most restaurants serve it every day, year-round. An average plate of Moroccan couscous features steamed semolina granules, fresh veggies (think peppers, carrots, onion, zucchini, and garlic), meat or fish, chickpeas, almonds, raisins, lemon, and a hodgepodge of spices like turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander. If you enjoy some spice, order your couscous with harissa, a hot chili pepper paste!
Night and day, Moroccans keep hydrated by drinking their national beverage, Maghrebi, or mint tea. This classic drink is prepared with fresh spearmint leaves and sugar, and gives off an intense, sugary, herb-charged flavor sip after sip. Sometimes the tea is perfumed with other herbs, flowers, or orange blossom water as well. Tea is consumed as a social activity in Morocco, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself drinking it between meals and throughout the day. If local Moroccans offer you a cup, remember to be gracious, as it is a sign of hospitality!
Rabat is full of hidden treasures including the can’t-miss gem, Kasbah of the Udayas, a small, fortified neighborhood within the city. The area dates back to the 1100s and is now a charming quarter full of hip cafes and colorful streets. You could spend hours wandering through the cozy, winding roads – and you should! Stop in one of the cafes for a cup of mint tea, study the geometric patterns of the buildings lining the streets, and visit the Kasbah’s large viewing platform for a unique perspective of Rabat beach and the Atlantic Ocean.