I’m wrapping up my posts on our trip to Morocco with some of my top tips and experience of eating gluten free in Morocco – it’s not only doable, but I found it enjoyable, largely stress-free, and I never got ill – all things that surprised me!
^^ breakfast at our Riad – I couldn’t eat the bread, but they specially made me an omelette and gave me extra fruit 🙂
The Language Barrier
I was nervous going into Morocco due to the language barrier, as well as cultural differences; many cultures do not recognize food allergies as serious or life-threatening, and often have never even heard the term “gluten” before. Gluten is a protein – when you’re speaking about your dietary restriction, rephrase it in more commonly known terms such as bread, wheat, pastry, flour, etc. In Morocco they speak French and Arabic. I often would greet waiters with:
“je suis allergique au farine et le pain….” / “I am allergic to flour and bread”
“Je ne mange pas le farine, le pain…” / “I do not eat flour, bread”
and hope that they understood my disjointed French. Which they did!
You can also visit this website for an Arabic gluten free dining card.
What You Can Eat
Tagine. And more tagine. Did I mention tagine?
This is an absolute staple dish in Morocco, and it’s naturally gluten free. There are lots of types of tagine – chicken and lemon is the classic, but you’ll also find beef and prunes, lamb, and vegetable. I had tagine almost every day and tried to experiment with different kinds so as not to get too sick of it. Luckily it’s really tasty and most restaurants have their own spin on the classic dish. You’ll find tagine sold even at the smallest shack restaurant out near the desert, so you’ll never be without a GF option!
I often had fruit and yogurt for breakfast – stick to the naturally GF options.
Moroccan restaurants also commonly sell omelettes (due to the French influence) so if I wanted a lighter lunch I would order this – it’s not your average omelette and is a bit spicier and oilier but I loved the taste!
^ tagine in the mountains!
What You Can’t Eat
Moroccans love their bread – but you’ll be hard pressed to find the street oven containing artisanal gluten free dough. Be careful if you eat tagine in a group because it’s often served with dipping bread. I had to swipe up my tagine first on our night in the Sahara Desert.
Couscous. Another classic dish is couscous – made from durum wheat. It’s basically tiny pasta, so it’s a no-no. If you’re dining at your hotel, you could ask for the couscous to be cornmeal or rice, but most restaurants in town can’t accommodate this/won’t understand why you’re asking.
Harrira. This is a famous Moroccan vegetable soup. It’s almost always thickened with flour.
^^ Desert at our riad… Dan got nice crepes but I was pleased with my sweet cooked bananas and nuts!
Where to Eat in Marrakech
I didn’t spend my time in Morocco really hunting down specialty GF restaurants like I usually do, as I was quite satisfied with tagine. Marrakech was also incredibly crowded so it was difficult to navigate to specific restaurants/locations – it was much less stressful to just eat where we happened to be when we got hungry!
I did, however, share a list of the restaurants we went to in my 9 Secrets of Marrakech post. If you missed it, here they are again!
Souk Kafe – located in the north entrance to the Souks, cozy and pretty quiet. Really tasty food for a good price. You need to get the specialty tangia here – they cook this for over 24 hours and you can’t find it elsewhere.
Marrakech Henna Art Cafe – a cute cafe south of Jemaa el’Fnaa. This is the best/safest place to get henna done as well! The women who do henna here are true artists and get fair pay, and the quality of the henna won’t burn or infect your skin.
Cafe Arabe (sunset) – a great view of the sunset.
Cafe des Epices – tall restaurant in a more open area of the souks – has really good Western options like chicken and french fries if you’re getting sick of tagine!
Kozybar – a fancy-ish bar near the spice market. Good view from the top, we really liked the salad tasting plate which was gluten free.
Taj’in Darna – truly underrated restaurant! We ate here three times. It’s incredibly cheap for how good the food is – right next to Jemaa el-Fnaa and a minaret so you can listen to the call to prayer while you eat dinner and people watch the busy square.
Amal Women’s Training Center – Best rated Marrakech restaurant on tripadvisor, this restaurant is also a charity training center for disadvantaged women. And the food is out of this world. We did a cooking class here and learned to make our own tagine.
Check out these other helpful blog posts that gave me hope before I went to Morocco!
^^This is the Riad we stayed at, which catered to my gluten free needs with special breakfast omelettes and poached bananas with caramel sauce for dessert.
Happy traveling! Have you been to Morocco on a gluten free diet before? Any other advice? Let me know!
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