Welcome to my next series of articles, which will examine foods and drinks from all around the world. Our first stop is Algeria. Their cuisine comes from all walks of life, but most notably Berber, Andalusian, Arabic, French and Ottoman.
With a big country such as Algeria, you of course do not have a single type of cuisine that pertains to everyone. Each region of the country has its own famous examples. However, many of the dishes are centered on fresh vegetables and herbs, bread, olive oil and meat (lamb, beef and poultry). Spices are a staple in the Algerian cooking, most notably ginger, cumin, garlic, saffron, coriander, parsley, mint and cinnamon.
Perhaps the most famous Algerian dish is couscous, which many people mistaken for grain, me included. However, couscous is actually pasta. The dough for pasta is a mixture of water and semolina wheat, which is then crumbled through a sieve, which creates tiny grain-like pellets. Couscous is not normally eaten as a separate dish, but rather with different meats, such as lamb, chicken or fish, and cooked vegetables like carrots, chickpeas and tomatoes. It is also eaten with stews. As you can see, couscous is a very versatile dish, since it can also be used in desserts by adding sweet ingredients.
When an event is held, which will draw in a lot of people, a typical dish to prepare is Mechoui, a whole lamb roasted on an outdoor spit. It has a crispy skin and tender meat inside, which is the result of an herb butter seasoning. Mechoui is eaten with an assortment of dried fruits and vegetables, such as dates.
Although not a dish, mint tea is very popular in Algeria, as is in many North African countries. They especially like serving it to their guests as it is quite easy to make: you just need water, green tea, mint leaves and, if you wish, sugar. First, boil the water and put one and a half tablespoons of tea in a separate teapot. Then put the boiling water in the teapot with tea and immediately pour it out again to wash the leaves. Then add sugar and mint leaves, pouring the boiling water in again, but not all the way to the top. Stir well and serve it still boiling hot.
Algeria certainly has an interesting cultural mix when it comes to cuisine: a blend of Arab, African and Mediterranean dishes. Join us next time on another delicious destination.