Wow your guests with the perfect Moroccan-style brunch inspired by Morocco's hottest restaurants and riads
By: Jane Cornish for The Nopo
When you think of Moroccan food you probably jump straight to succulent tagines, and steaming plates of couscous, but there is no better way to start your weekend than with a copious Moroccan brunch spread.
It all starts with attay - Moroccan tea. Served in a sparkling, intricately decorated, silver tea pot, this minty, sweet elixir is an essential part of any Moroccan brunch. It's made with just three ingredients - green gunpowder tea, naânaâ (mint) and generous amounts of sugar.
The honey colored drink is often nicknamed “Moroccan whisky,” for its tint and addictive nature. You can't stop at one glass! Traditionally, the tea is served by theatrically pouring a stream of the steaming beverage from high up, causing it to bubble and cool as it hits the little tea glass -- which is only ever filled halfway, allowing you to safely grip the top to enjoy your drink. Attay is not just for breakfast time though, and people consume glass after glass throughout the day after a meal or with pastries like chebakia and corne de gazelle (Gazelle horn biscuits filled with almond paste and flavoured with orange water).
Now you’ve had a nice cup of attay bil naânaâ (mint tea), let's dive into five of the best breakfast and brunch spread’s Morocco has to offer.
Half way-up the hill in Tamraght, a small fishing village-turned-surf town, you will find 'Let’s Be', a bright, breezy cafe adorned with bright wax-fabric parasols and berber throw cushions. This boho-chic haven serves organic, healthy food, embracing its Moroccan roots while also diving into international cuisine. The decor is a kaleidoscope of colourful touches - a rainbow circle made of cigarette lighters collected from local beaches adorns one wall, while a solid, engraved wooden door turned on its side serves as a table out the front of this special spot.
When it comes to breakfast, at Let’s Be you’re spoiled for choice! You can start your morning with a healing breakfast shot of spirulina and orange juice, before making the difficult decision between pancakes, a traditional berber omelette or a wicked smoothie bowl. Everything at Let’s Be not only looks perfectly instagrammable but is completely delicious. Originally founded by Moroccan-Australian couple Ismail and Indi, you can feel the love in everything this great brunch spot does -from their food, to their beach clean-up rallies. They have also been kind enough to share their Killers Smoothie Bowl (named after surf spot Killer Point) recipe with us, so you can recreate some of the Let’s Be magic in-between visits.
Killers Smoothie Bowl recipe
Handful of Berries
Spoon of Peanut butter
Spoon of Raw cacao
Sip of almond Milk
Blend together until all ingredients are incorporated, add extra almond milk until you reach the desired consistency. Then use some of the following ingredients to make a perfectly Instagrammable topping.
The story behind Riad La Maison is one of overcoming, and finding opportunity in adversity. Designer Nicole Francesa Manfron has had her share of challenges in transforming a pile of rubble into her dream riad home, and bed and breakfast. Mid-way through renovations in 2004, the dodgy foundations of what is now the industrial-chic Riad La Maison Marrakech collapsed leaving her with a nasty surprise and just the façade of the building still standing. Initially, she set out to build an exact replica of the traditional Moroccan home she bought in 2003. However, as time went on, she allowed the vision to morph slightly, and took pleasure in incorporating her own flair for creating elegant, but functional spaces while drawing on Moroccan architecture, craft and design to create a luminous, peaceful abode. Warm toned vintage azemmour cushions, natural wood furniture, and lush contemporary beni ourain and azilal rugs warm up the cool cement, glass, metal and tadelakt interior. The result is an eclectic take on a distinctly Moroccan home that enchants visitors, and provides a base for Nicole to indulge in her loves of cooking and creating.
Like the interior of La Maison, its brunch takes traditional Moroccan staples and adds a modern spin to them in-keeping with the b&b’s vibe. Coffee is important at La Maison, and served on a picture perfect tray (complete with a flower from the garden) by the smiling Hanane, to help you start your day on a bright, caffeinated note. As for the breakfast treats, depending on the season you can feast on msemen, eggs sunny-side-up, plump avocado’s, cut fruit, and freshly-squeezed orange juice in the winter sun on the riad’s stunning rooftop. All these delights are served on a combination of sparkling green-turquoise tamegroute plates, wooden dishes and glinting silver platters that make your morning meal not only a feast for the stomach, but the design-lovers’ eyes too.
Moroccan Pancakes (Beghrir)
1¾ cups of semolina
1/2 cup flour
1 flat teaspoon dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
480 ml (2 cups) water
Forr the topping: butter and honey
Batter- Process all the ingredients in a food processor until batter is smooth. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes until the mixture is thick and bubbles appear.
Heat a dry pan, pour about 1/2 ladle (1/4 cup) of the batter and fry until the pancake is perforated and the surface looks dry. No need to turn over. prepare the rest of the batter and stack the pancakes on top of each other. Serve each with a cube of butter and honey.
Address: 32 Place Outa El Hamam, Chefchaouen 91000
The tiny town of Chefchaouen, nestled into the Riff Mountains is renowned for its picturesque blue streets and quaint medina. It can, however, be a little harder to find delicious food in this country town, that was until French-Moroccan sisters Sarah and Anaëlle opened Hamsa in 2018. The chic tea salon and restaurant, which serves up breakfast, small plates, tajins and homemade cakes has quickly become a “must visit” for those exploring the Blue Pearl. After walking up a blue and yellow tiled staircase, you are greeted by friendly smiling staff, and then met with a jaw-dropping view from the terrace that takes in the city’s rooftops and the stunning mountain ranges that bear down over Chefchaouen.
After a morning walk in the mountains you can choose to indulge in three different set breakfasts - Beldi (country-style), Moroccan or Simple. For the more adventurous, you can skip straight to a warming bowl of bissara, a thick split-pea and garlic soup, made using Sarah and Anaëlle’s father’s recipe. It is traditionally eaten as a hearty breakfast, topped with cumin and a generous glug of olive oil but can be enjoyed throughout the day, once again with a strong, sweet cup of attay. Avocado lovers can dig into an Insta-worthy plate of avocado toast beldi, or you can give the rghaif (pancake from Northern Morocco) with olives and zaatar a try. Whatever you choose, one thing is for sure it has been made with love in this dynamic family restaurant that holds close to tradition but is not afraid to embrace new things either.
Ras Al Hanout Avocado Mush
4 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and coarsely mashed
Just a few streets away from Marrakech’s beating heart, Place Jemaa el Fnaa, Riad Danka offers a tranquil and light-filled escape from the clamor of the city’s famous medina. The tiny riad was completely renovated over two years and has since been transformed into a place where traditional Moroccan design elements are seamlessly incorporated into a calming, minimalist aesthetic. Riad Danka has five handsomely appointed rooms which look onto its heated pool, located in the centre of a luminous interior patio - the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before tackling a day of shopping and sightseeing in the Ochre city.
From your wicker chair at one of the zellige (tiled) tables, tucked in amongst ornamental banana trees on the patio you can enjoy a delicious cup of piping hot coffee, before diving into the rest of Riad Danka’s impressive morning spread. Or perhaps you’d like to take your breakfast of delectable homemade yoghurt, fresh fruit, jam, raw honey, and traditional bread and pastries on the riad’s rooftop where you can take in 360° views of the medina’s picturesque rooftops. Owners Lillian and Carl, who are designers in their own right and originally from Bordeaux in France, wanted Riad Danka to be elegant but casual and they have certainly achieved that, right down to the breakfast. Served on a combination of pristine white crockery, contrasted with coppery-green Tamegroute tableware your breakfast will not only be tasty but easy on the eyes too.
Moroccan Hummus Dip
240 grams canned chickpeas, drained or 120 gr dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1 teaspoon baking soda
120 grams tahini paste
Juice from one lemon
2 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped
4 tablespoons cold water
Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation - Place the drained chickpeas and the baking soda in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Cover the chickpeas with water. Leave until the chickpeas are soft and cooked, this will take about 30 to 40 minutes
Once cooked, drain the chickpeas, place in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth, adjust consistency by adding water if needed.
Serve in a beautiful bowl with a generous sprinkle of olive oil on top
Past the brass cannons, through a small door in the fort, that looks onto Casablanca’s coastline is a hidden paradise where you’ll find La Sqala, a traditional dining institution. The restaurant is built around a sumptuous Andalusian style courtyard-garden that is green, garden paved with colourful tiles, and complete with gently bubbling water fountains. Located essentially within the walls of the city’s medina, La Sqala is the perfect spot to experience ‘Old Casablanca,’ and outstanding Moroccan cuisine.
La Sqala serves a copious spread of sweet and savoury traditional Moroccan breakfast delights in its peaceful Moorish surrounds, that feels miles from the chaotic city streets. On the savoury side, you can pick at some olives before diving into a tagine of eggs with khlii, a richly-flavoured dried meat, mopped up with lots of khobz (bread). For those with a sweet tooth, you can dig into a stack of deep-fried sfinge (donuts), light and spongy beghrir (pancakes), buttery harcha (semolina cakes) and soft, fluffy msemen (crepe), all delicious carby vehicles for sweet jam, amlou (argan oil and almond spread), and honey. Wash it all down with fresh orange juice, date and almond milk and of course, more attay, affak (please)!
Spinach & Feta Shakshuka (Poached Eggs in Sauce)
2 scallions cut into thin circles 2 tablespoons olive oil 600 grams of fresh spinach leaves Ground black pepper Salt 6 eggs 250 grams of coarsely crumbled feta cheese
Heat a deep, large skillet over medium heat, add oil and scallions and sauté for 3-2 minutes
Add spinach, a pinch of salt & pepper and stir until the spinach begins to soften
Break eggs one by one into a bowl and slide into the pan. Cover and cook for 2-5 minutes, depending on how wet you like those yokes