Discover the flavors of Algerian cuisine with this overview of traditional dishes like couscous and tagines.
Algerian food is an exciting blend of flavors. Regardless of the region or season, it all starts with hearty servings of fresh vegetables, couscous and breads. Meats such as lamb, poultry and beef are common additions to meals served on traditional breads cooked in olive oil alongside salads, soups and tajines. The star dish among them all has got to be couscous, an iconic Algerian favorite that truly defines their culture's rich culinary heritage.
Algeria grows a good deal of fresh produce and nearly all the meat consumed. The country's main crops include wheat, barley, oats, olives and a good selection of vegetables including potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, carrots, pumpkin, cauliflower and broccoli, cucumbers, peas, eggplants and artichokes. Despite its arid climate, Algeria maintains a well-developed irrigation system which allows it to cultivate a variety of crops and make the best use of its resources.
Algeria is home to a wide variety of delicious and nutritious fruits, like watermelons, oranges, dates, grapes, tangerines, apricots, pears, peaches, plums, figs or pomegranates. Dates and figs are among the most common fruits grown in Algeria.
Dates are often eaten as snacks or used to make sweet pastries while figs are great eaten fresh or dried. Pomegranates can be enjoyed both fresh and processed, with their sweet-tart juice making up many popular Algerian dishes. Table grapes are grown and often dried into raisins.
Algerian cuisine is the collection of various dishes that have been passed through generations and influenced by many cultures, a unique combination of Mediterranean, African, and Middle Eastern cooking styles that have been heavily influenced by French and Italian culture. It is renowned for its variety of ingredients and flavors, which make it truly unique in taste.
The main components of Algerian cuisine include meat, fish, vegetables, cereals, dairy products, olive oil and spices.
Couscous forms the foundation for many dishes.
Lamb and mutton are the most popular types of meat, poultyr and beef are also consumed. Game meat is considered a delicacy.
camel meat is consumed in the south.
Vegetables are a key component to Algerian dishes and help create a wide range of flavors. Common vegetables used in Algerian cuisine include eggplants, onions, garlic and tomatoes.
Dairy products such as yogurt are also enjoyed in Algeria.
Being a Mediterranean country, fish also is an important source of protein often prepared steamed or grilled with herbs like cumin.
Olives are widely used in salad dressings and olive oil is a staple ingredient when cooking any dish in North Africa.
Finally, spices play a major role in making Algerian dishes so special; some common ones include turmeric, paprika and harissa, a traditional chili pepper paste.
Couscous form the foundation for many dishes. All these elements together result in flavorful dishes that have been passed down through generations.
Some Algerian dishes
- Couscous, the national dish, is tiny pasta served with meat or vegetables or even sweet items such as apricots or dates.
- Chorba, a meat-based stew.
- Rechta, a tomato-based pasta dish.
- Cakhchoukha, a vegetable stew.
- Berkoukes, a deep-fried pastry filled with vegetables or meat.
- Shakshouka, eggs poached in a tomato sauce.
- Mthewem, deep-fried dough balls.
Couscous is perhaps the most well-known dish from Algeria. It's made from durum wheat semolina which is cooked with spices and vegetables like carrots, onions and peppers in tagines. The result is a light yet flavorful dish that can be served as an accompaniment to meat dishes or eaten on its own as part of a vegetarian meal.
Chorba is another popular dish that consists of lamb or beef simmered in a thick tomato broth with onions, garlic and various spices.
Rechta is a type of pasta made from durum wheat flour which is boiled until al dente and then tossed with a rich tomato sauce seasoned with garlic and herbs.
Chakhchoukha is similar to couscous but instead of being cooked with vegetables, it's cooked with chickpeas or beans for added texture and flavor.
Berkoukes are pastries filled with vegetables or meat and then deep fried until golden brown before being served alongside fragrant sauces such as harissa or chermoula.
Shakshouka consists of eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce.
Mthewem are deep-fried dough balls made from flour, sugar, milk and butter which are served either plain or stuffed with nuts or dried fruits like dates or figs.