ALGERIA

The red star and crescent, which is a symbol of Islam as the nation’s dominant faith
COUNTRYAlgeria
DishesHarira, Algerian Pizza, Traditional Couscous + Chtitha Batata (Potato Stew)
Time 1 hour per dish
Effort 6
Rough cost £5 per dish
COUNTRY Algeria
Capital Algiers
Population 42,200,000
Land mass 2,381,741 (10th largest)
Languages Arabic (official), French
ReligionsIslam

Introduction

Algerian week was just delicious. Full of colour, root vegetables and spices. The pizza went down a treat at Isaac’s 12th bday party and Bridget had friends round to eat the potato stew. The dishes were not too difficult to make and used cheap and accessible ingredients. All in all, thumbs up!

History

Algerian cuisine is influenced by Algeria’s interactions with other cultures over the centuries. It has influences from other nations via both sea and land, for example France and Morocco respectively. Vegetables are at the centre of Algerian cooking, used in stew, soup, tanginess etc.

Couscous is recognised as Algeria’s national dish.

Harira is a traditional soup that is prepared by Muslims across North Africa during Ramadan to break the fast. In Algeria from Oran, Mascara, Sidi Bel Abbess to Tlemcen, Harira is much simpler then the Moroccan version. It’s a smooth and silky soup that is hearty and quite filling and isn’t weighed down by the over use of spices

RECIPES

Harira (10 servings)

NOTES

I was not able to get the specialised ingredient Frik. Being in Scotland and in the spirit of traditional home cooking, I used what was handy and replaced the Frik and brown lentils called for in the recipe with Scotch broth mix. It may not have been totally authentic as a result, but it was very tasty. The soup was smooth and soft and I chose to shred the meat, although it would have been fine to puree it too. It was great to use celery leaves as a garnish rather than having to buy coriander or parsley and looked just as effective when served. Finally, the soup took a surprising amount of seasoning – more salt than I was expecting. 

Ingredients

For the soup

  • 500g beef shin, cut into cubes (lamb can also be used or a purely vegan version is good too. Just add more vegetables)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped 
  • 3 ribs of celery 
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large courgette, cut into chunks
  • 2 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 200g Scotch broth mix (brown lentils and Frik in original recipe)
  • ½ tsp dried chilli pepper/cayenne (optional)
  • ½ tsp black pepper, or to taste
  • ½ tsp Ras el hanout spice mix
  • ½ tsp ground caraway 
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp powdered saffron
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt/pepper
  • oil

For the Tabouria (THICKENER):

  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • juice of half of a lemon
  • ½ cup of water

To Garnish:

  • celery leaves
  • lemon slices

METHOD

  1. Prepare the tabouria (thickener) by mixing the flour, lemon and water in a small bowl. Allow to ferment on the countertop while your soup cooks. This lends an extra depth to the soup.
  2. Cut your vegetables and meat into small chunks. There’s really no need to waste any time cutting them into prefect uniform cubes as you’ll purée the soup later.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed soup pot. Brown the meat, stirring occasionally until well browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Now add in the vegetables, tomato paste, spices, broth mix and herbs. Stir to combine, then add enough water to cover the stewing meat and vegetables.
  5. Bring the soup up to a boil, then reduce the fire to a low simmer. Cover the soup partially with a lid and let simmer until the meat is tender, about one hour. 
  6. Once the soup is cooked, remove the bay leaf and the meat. Transfer the meat to a plate to cool. You can shred the meat into the soup or puree it along with the rest of the ingredients. 
  7. With an immersion blender, purée the soup. Algerian harira is usually very smooth and silky. If shredding the meat, place it back into to the puréed pot of soup. Taste and adjust seasoning. 
  8. Add the tabouira to thicken the soup. Mix well making sure that there are no doughy lumps. Reheat the soup gently, stirring the soup until it is thickened. You need to be careful here to keep stirring as the soup is quite thick and might burn easily. If you find it is too thick for your liking, simply add more water. Season and serve.
  9. *SERVE with lemon wedges, chopped celery leaves, crusty bread or boureks (small cigar-shaped pastries traditionally served with harira).

Algerian Pizza – link to amazing recipe that Mwara used, following 100% to the rule.

Traditional Couscous

Couscous is a very traditional Algerian dish, usually served as a side dish or at the end of a meal. Bridget cooked the classic style: a pile of couscous with chopped vegetables laid on top in a triangular shape, served with chickpeas. There are lots of variations for this!

Ingredients

  • Couscous (80 grams per person)
  • Vegan stock (2 tsp per person)
  • Water (1 cup per person)
  • Chopped carrots and celery
  • 1 can chickpeas

Method

  1. Bring the water and stock to the boil.
  2. Wash the couscous and add to the water.
  3. Stir it a few times and put lid back on – Do not lift lid!
  4. Simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes and then leave on the side for 10 minutes.
  5. Fluff grains with a fork, pile up the veggies and pour chickpeas on top!

Chtitha Batata (Potato Stew)

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small red chilli, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 700g potatoes, peeled + halved
  • 1/2 tub passata
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • * I also added some carrots I needed to eat

Method

  1. Peel and halve the garlic cloves.
  2. Add the garlic, chilli and spices to a mortar.
  3. Grind with a pestle until it forms a paste. Add olive oil and mix well.
  4. Fry the sauce for a few minutes the olive oil on a medium heat.
  5. Stir in tomato puree and passata.
  6. Add the halved potatoes to the pan and stir well.
  7. Add a bit of water to just cover the potatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes, or till potatoes are tender.
  8. Put the potatoes into a serving dish and spoon over any remaining sauce in the pan.
  9. *serve with the couscous, chickpeas + chopped veg!

Saha and see you in Andorra! M + B

#harira #ChtithaBatata #vegan #couscous #world #recipes

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