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Moroccan Recipes for Special Occasions and Entertaining

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Some Moroccan dishes are well-associated with special occasions, celebrations, holiday gatherings and entertaining. These recipes are suggestions of what you might consider when hosting a special Moroccan meal or planning a feast for a large crowd. Many of the dishes can be prepped in advance, making it easy to get food on the table for your big event.

1. Chicken Bastilla

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Photo © Christine Benlafquih
This savory and sweet chicken, almond and egg pie is a classic choice for special events such as wedding feasts, family celebrations or company dinners. It can be fully prepped in advance and then frozen until baking time. Although it traditionally is presented as a large communal pie, individual-sized bastillas may be made instead.

2. Seafood Bastilla

Timmey O'Toole/Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
This seafood version of bastilla has become immensely popular in recent years, making it another impressive favorite to present for special meals. Shrimp, calamari, fish and a zesty rice vermicelli filling are stuffed within the warqa pastry leaves. Again, it can be fully prepped ahead of time and frozen until needed.

3. Mechoui - Roasted Leg of Lamb or Shoulder

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Photo © Christine Benlafquih
Mechoui means roasted over a fire, and in Moroccan cuisine it's become synonymous with roasted lamb. Traditionally this involves a whole lamb, but this home oven recipe calls for leg of lamb or shoulder. The meat is dressed with a Moroccan spice rub and then slow-cooked to buttery tenderness.

4. Seffa Medfouna

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Photo © Christine Benlafquih
This sweet and savory dish features saffron-infused chicken (or lamb) hidden within a mound of steamed vermicelli. The classic flavors include ginger, saffron, cinnamon and fried almonds. Omit the meat to present the vermicelli as an impressive follow-up course to an entree.

5. Moroccan Salad Medley

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Photo © Christine Benlafquih
An impressive and lovely starter course, four different vegetables are arranged around a mound of rice salad. This photo tutorial links to all the salad recipes, which can be prepped the day before serving.

6. Lamb Brochettes

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Dorling Kindersley/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images
When served to guests or on special occasions, these lamb or fillet beef brochettes are typically presented as one of several entrees. They can be served alone, or for more casual meals, stuffed in wedges of Moroccan khobz with Salade Mechouia as a filler.

7. Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives

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Moroccan Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives Photo © Christine Benlafquih
There are different ways to prepare this popular, classic dish – in a pot, in a tagine, or roasted in the oven as shown here – but this method is the easiest way to feed a crowd. Prep the chickens and cook the sauce the day before, and then roast your chickens in time to serve guests.

8. Couscous with Seven Vegetables

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Jan Greune/LOOK/Getty Images
This Casablanca style couscous is a common offering at family and company meals. Couscous is steamed in a couscoussier and then topped with a fabulous meat and vegetable stew. It may seem like a lot of work if you've never made it, but after one or two times it will seem easy to put together even when hosting a special event. Save time by prepping the veggies earlier in the day or the evening before.

9. Couscous Tfaya

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Photo © Christine Benlafquih
Another couscous favorite for family meals or when entertaining. Stewed chicken or lamb is served on a bed of couscous, then topped with a sweet and spicy caramelized onion and raisin mixture. Ras el Hanout contributes to the aromatic seasoning.

10. Chicken Rfissa

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Photo © Christine Benlafquih
One of my personal favorites, this dish features very savory and aromatic chicken stewed with lentils, fenugreek, saffron, Ras el Hanout and other spices. It's served atop a bed of shredded mssemen or day old bread. I consider it comfort food that's elegant enough for company, and indeed the dish is one that might traditionally be prepared to honor guests.
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