North African countries are increasingly coveted for the local cuisine and eating habits. The importance given to the art of cuisine is deeply rooted in the local culture for so many cultural and historical reasons. Recipes from the Maghreb Region will allow you to experience the secrets and treasures of North Africa that will take you on a beautiful gastronomic trip to the African side of the Mediterranean.
Here are our picks for the best foods to try in North Africa
Made from dried, steamed durum wheat flour, couscous is widely preferred and eaten in North Africa, mainly in Morocco and Algeria, where it is traditionally served on Friday lunch. Made from a mixture of meat, vegetables and steamed wheat semolina, Couscous recipes are very numerous. It can also be consumed alone, flavored or natural, hot or cold, and as a dessert or side dish. This is a very balanced dish. Be careful, though, not to overdo it even if it is a delight.
During large feasts, such as weddings, Couscous is widely served as a symbol of happiness and festivity. In fact, it is culturally known that when someone is invited to a Couscous meal, this invitation mustn’t be turned down.
Of Berber origin, Tagine takes its name from the terracotta dish in which it simmers. It is almost impossible not to hear about North African Tagine whether in Morocco, Algeria or Tunisia. It is the region’s emblematic dish. The Tagine holds a special place in the cuisine here. There are at least 300 Tagine recipes. It is a sweet or salty preparation where all the meat, all the fish, and the vegetables are used. Spices are the essential touch to give Tagine its wonderful taste. Couscous is generally prepared on Fridays and during feasts, whereas Tagine is cooked throughout the week as it is part of the daily eating habits in North Africa.
Generally, visiting North Africa means “falling in love” with the taste of the Tagine Berber in Algeria, or the famous Tajines of Fez, Marrakech and Rabat.
Pastilla is the third typical dish on our list. It is widely known as the dish of the great occasions. Pastilla is served sometimes as an entrée or as the main dish of a meal. Originally from Fez, this specialty is usually prepared during large ceremonies, including weddings, or also prestigious meetings and conferences. It is a laminated filo pastry stuffed with meat, fish or chicken. It is wholly covered with sugar and cinnamon.
Generally, sharing a Pastilla meal means sharing love, joy, and happiness.
Koshari is a traditional Egyptian dish based on rice, pasta, lentils and chickpeas, to which you can add vinegar and a layer of Egyptian garlic, mixed with spicy tomato sauce. Everything is usually filled with fried onions, which helps to give the dish a special flavor. Koshari is an ideal dish for vegans and vegetarians given the lack of meat, but this rule has recently been broken by adding fried liver or shawarma meat, considering their economic costs. Koshari is considered a national dish in Egypt, as well as now being prepared in other parts of the Middle East.
In fact, while talking about their trips to Egypt, visitors cannot forget to share their passion for Koshari.
Rfissa is a famous dish in North Africa, mainly Morocco. Although it is known a lot in the region of Casablanca, this dish is widely prepared and eaten all over Morocco mainly during birth occasions. Rfissa is given to women after giving birth because it is traditionally believed that this dish has a magical power for women since it makes them quickly regain their energy. Rfissa is an old dish that has been able to survive as it is a tasty meal adored by tourists. The dish consists of thin Msemen sheets generously sprinkled with chicken sauce and lentils, all well fragrant.
Only professional chefs can prepare such a delicious and rich meal.
Tanjia is a typically masculine Moroccan dish prepared mainly by men in Marrakech. Traditionally and historically, the Tanjia is the dish of craftsmen, who used to prepare it the day before each Friday. In this respect, some Moroccans say that it is a dish made for men by men, but this doesn’t prevent the women from preparing this dish. In any case, one thing is certain – this dish is native of Marrakech.
Besides, some butchers of the Ochre City are true specialists of the Tanjia. The secret behind this dish is that cooking must take a long time, no less than six hours. Tanjia is a true delight, mainly when it is eaten using traditional Moroccan bread.
Harira, also called Chorba or Lftour, is traditional North African soup par excellence, cooked in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. The Harira is widely prepared during sacred occasions and dinners. It is prepared usually during the month of Ramadan, and it is very comforting soup that could be eaten either as entrée or the main meal.
It is a thick and very peppery soup made up of meat cut into small pieces, eggs, lentils, flour, leaven, and chopped parsley.
Mrouzia, or lamb with raisins and almonds, is one of the most important dishes of North African cuisine. It is a savory dish predominated by the sweet aromas of honey and cinnamon.
Although it belongs to the category of Tagines, Mrouzia is a special dish made for lovers of delicately sweet and savory flavors with the most amazing mixture of spices. It is usually cooked during the religious feast of “Aîd El Kebir,” but also during special family occasions.
In Tunisia, the Brik is the most popular entrée in the country. It is a national food that is eaten everyday, but more during the holy month of Ramadan. It is prepared from a sheet of very fine dough made of flour and semolina of wheat. The dough is composed of a mixture, half flour, half fine semolina of wheat, warm water, and salt. The Brik leaf can be filled with tuna, meat, beans, cheese or cream.
In Tunisia, Briks are everywhere, as unique and special as the Tunisians themselves.
The Ful Medames is a very popular dish of Egyptian origin that is distinguished by its slow cooking, since the dried fava beans need to be soaked for more than seven hours. It is cooked with olive oil, garlic, onions, diced tomatoes or hard-boiled or mirrored eggs.
Ful Medames is a traditional food that is usually served with pita bread. This dish is now eaten in other African countries including Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya.