Moroccan Herbs & Spices

Updated February 21, 2017

Moroccan cuisine is very diverse because of the influences from many cultures and civilisations that have coexisted in Morocco. Moroccan cuisine is a combination of Berber, Mediterranean, Arab and African influences. Spices and herbs are widely used in Moroccan dishes, most of which have been imported to Morocco, while some are locally grown. Thus, there are several popular Moroccan herbs and spices.

Anise Seed, Basil, Bay Leaves, Cayenne, Cinnamon

With their very distinct liquorice-like flavour, anise seeds are commonly used to prepare Moroccan cookies and breads. Belonging to the mint family, basil has a similar flavour to anise but with a pungent and sweet aroma. Bay leaves are also commonly used in tanginess, tomato sauces and stews. They are a little bit spicy, have a fragrant smell and are harvested from evergreen trees. Cayenne powder, on the other hand, is derived from tropical chiles such as red cayenne peppers. Cayenne is widely used in southern Moroccan dishes. For a different taste, cinnamon is a sweet, fragrant spice that comes from the cinnamon tree's bark. Moroccan dishes make use of either ground cinnamon bark or cinnamon powder. It is commonly used in couscous, pastilla and other desserts.

Turmeric, Black Pepper, Coriander

Turmeric powder is used to give Moroccan dishes a yellow tint. It has an earthy scent with a slightly bitter flavour. Another spice, also known as Java pepper or tailed, Moroccan black pepper, comes from Cubeb berries, which have pleasant aromas. The flavour has a slightly spicy taste with a hint of anise. Coriander, another spice, resembles the flavour of sage and lemon combined. Coriander leaves are used to enrich the flavours of tangines.

Ginger, Marjoram, Mint, Paprika

Ground ginger, made from ginger roots, is a spicy and fragrant ingredient used in Moroccan soups, stews and tangines. On the other hand, with its sweet, delicate and pleasant flavour, marjoram is used in Moroccan teas. Mint too is popularly used in green tea; green tea with mint is a staple Moroccan beverage. Making good quality mint tea is considered an art form in Morocco. Drinking the tea together with friends and family is part of Morocco's everyday rituals. Finally, with its sweet and hot varieties, paprika is another common ingredient in Moroccan cooking. Made from sweet red peppers that have been dried, sweet paprika is used to season meat, salads, stews, soups and bean dishes. Hot paprika, on the other hand, is made from the spicier varieties of red pepper and is generally used for its flavour.

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About the Author

Alexis Writing has many years of freelance writing experience. She has written for a variety of online destinations, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Rochester.