Introduction to Algerian cuisine
Algerian cuisine is a mix of food made up of the historical influences of Turkish, Arab, Berbers and French taste. Dishes range on a vast spectrum from mild to incredibly spicy, appealing to all palates with a diverse wide range of different flavourings used. Chicken, lamb, grains, fish, vegetables and dried fruits are all staples of Algerian dishes, which are often complemented with tea served with fresh mint or strong fragrant coffee. Algeria is definitely a foodie’s dream in Northern Africa, from the bustling marketplaces crammed full of street food vendors serving up fresh, authentic feed giving a raw look into Algeria cuisine to the high-end restaurants of Algiers offering a more refined and modern look into the countries dishes.
Must-Try Dishes of Algerian cuisine
Couscous – It is impossible to talk about Algerian cuisine before first mention Couscous a regionally famous dish in Northern Africa and one the Algerian people consider their national dish as well as being one of the staples of their diet. The exact origins of this dish are unclear; however, the general consensus is that the Berbers first prepared it. First prepared by rolling minuscule grains of semolina wheat into small pellets, the pellets are then dried under the hot Algerian sun. After the pellets are dried, they are then steamed into a light and fluffy meal. It is often served alongside meat dishes such as lamb, beef, mutton, fish, and spicy, creamy, flavourful vegetable-based stews.
Dolma – Another classic dish of Northern Africa done exceptionally well in Algeria is Dolma. Dola is a meal of stuffed vegetables or meat. Popular variations of this dish include grape leaves and cabbage leaves stuffed full of various meats or fish and rolled to perfection, providing a unique and delicious flavour profile that is incredibly unique and a must-try.
Mechoui – A classic of Algerian cuisine for festivals and holidays, this dish originating from Arab cuisine involves roasting a whole lamb or sheep. First, the animal is seasoned with fresh garlic, paprika, coriander, salt, and pepper from inside and out to enhance the meat’s flavour profile. The meat is then left overnight before being slowly roasted on a spit roaster with butter being melted on the animal’s skin to give it a crispy taste/texture. To top it off, the inside of the animal is then stuffed with coriander, garlic, onions and tomatoes. Traditionally served as an appetizer, this dish will require you to get down and dirty eating it with nothing but your hands, and if you consume it in an Algerian household typically, the host will tear off all the meat from the bone and serve it to guests.
Jwaz -staple of rural Algeria and a must when travelling off the country’s beaten path. In Algerian slang, Jwaz refers to any dish that is cooked in a pot with a typical bowl of Jwaz, usually consisting of carrots, potatoes, onions and tomatoes.
Bagita – A reminder of the French in Algeria, the Bagita, which a homemade baguette found in all Algerian homes and an important part of the local’s diet. Usually served alongside curries or meat stews, Algeria’s fresh homemade bread is not only amongst the best in Africa but some of the best in the world.
Drinking in Algeria
While in the 1960s, Algeria was actually the world’s largest exporter of Wine and still exports some beer, alcohol consumption is not widespread in Algeria. Algeria is a Muslim country and drinking is mostly limited to bars in international hotels or nightclubs.
Instead with Algerian cuisine, the locals of Algeria prefer tea and coffee with a preference for the former. Any city or town in Algeria will be littered with small cafes serving a sweet tea with a dash of mint. These cafes are the most popular place for locals to hang out, catch up with each other and the local gossip. We can’t recommend taking an afternoon off touring for a truly authentic Algerian experience and just spending time amongst the activity at one of these cafes for an afternoon.
Coffee lovers are also in for a treat while visiting Algeria, and the country is among the largest consumers of the beverage in the Middle-East, consuming an average of 13 grams per day. The roasts of the region have bold flavour profiles that are sure to please and surprise any lover of coffee.
Algeria has a vastly diverse Cuisine taking from years of ancient traditions and cultures to be what it is today. Whatever your dietary requirements are, Algeria will not leave you hungry from the incredibly flavourful plant-based dishes to the succulent meat dishes after a visit to Algeria, you will find yourself longing for the countries cuisine when your adventure comes to an end, and you find yourself on a plane back home.
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