Best street food in the Rabat medina

We’ve already told you about the best places to eat in the Rabat medina when you’re looking for a sit-down cafe or restaurant. But you also can’t miss out on Moroccan street food! The tantalizing smell will turn your shopping trip into a food rampage anyway, so go ahead and budget some time to scope out lunch spots. Street stalls are always way cheaper and faster than a proper restaurant even if you’re ordering the same food, so they’re a great midday option. Check out these Moroccan street delicacies!

Ghoulal

Snail soup! Even in the bustling Rabat medina, its deep, salty scent stands out from the rest. Huge pots bubble in the center of intersections, made more crowded by people lining up for a bowl. For just a few Dh you get a little disposable cup packed with little black snails boiled in broth – they give you a toothpick to help scoop them out of their speckled shells. You can also order them with broth or ask for a cup of broth only, if slurping snails isn’t really your thing. 

They’re cooked with fifteen different herbs, many of which are supposed to be good for general health and wellbeing–unless you’re pregnant, that is. According to my host sisters, one of the herbs is supposed to be bad for fetal health… so bad that they joked with their go-to vendor about having “abortion soup” every time that they stopped to order some. 

Rghaif / Meloui / Msemen 

Hands-down my favorite food from Morocco, this flat bread is made from salted dough cooked super quickly on a hot griddle. Everyone’s family seems to call it a different thing, and we never quite figured out why – meloui is round and msemen is square, as far as I can tell, but it tastes the same and rghaif is an interchangeable name.

On the street you can get it with butter or a triangle of Laughing Cow cheese. Families buy stacks of them from street vendors to store in the fridge for breakfast – a single piece costs roughly 10 cents, so it’s a regular breakfast choice at home. Also you can definitely put Nutella on it.

Chebakia 

This sweet pastry is always available, but it’s traditionally served the most during Ramadan, Eid, wedding parties, baby showers, birthdays, and other celebrations. Sweet sesame dough is layered and wrapped into flowery bundles, deep-fried, doused (not drizzled) in sticky honey, and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

It’s best hot out of the frying pan, but a box stays good for a couple days at least. I know this because I once hoarded a box in my room (no regrets) and it was still ridiculously delicious three days in.

Paninis

They might not be the exotic Moroccan street food you’ve imagined, but they are extremely common and cheap. Pretty self-explanatory: meat, cheese, and bread of various kinds pressed into a grill. My host family actually made these all the time too – we never had cold sandwiches that weren’t PB&J, and even those sometimes got grilled. This is a solid vegetarian meal option since you can order them with just cheese!

Jus d’avocat 

Hear me out if you’re not a big fan of the millennial avocado trend, because this actually tastes nothing like avocadoes. There are juice stands all over the place offering a wild variety of fruits blended with either orange juice or milk, but this one was a surprising favorite. A whole avocado gets scooped into a blender along with milk and some unholy amount of sugar, and what comes out is a frothy green shake that tastes like cookies. Like sugar cookies but also sort of like chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate.

Honestly I don’t even want to know how much of this stuff Reyna and I drank when we lived in Chefchaouen. It was a lot. A shameful amount (and we’re pretty shameless people.)  

Kefta 

For the carnivores out there (sorry Reyna). I always had lamb kefta but it can be made from beef as well. It’s little balls of ground meat mixed with herbs and sometimes onion bits, skewered and sizzled and smelling incredible from the next street over.

The best kefta I ever had was in a rural village on weekly souk day – I remember thinking that it was the best meat I’d had in my entire life (although to be fair I’d just experienced two week old liver, so perhaps my standards were off at the time).

I know that there’s always debate over whether or not street meat is a safe choice, so it certainly helps to have local friends recommend the best vendors. Otherwise pick a stall that seems popular with nice grandma types (a good rule of thumb for lots of food safety questions).

Follow your nose and enjoy!

-Jacky

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