On the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea lies Algeria. Most of the country is occupied by the boundless sands of the Sahara and the majestic ridges of the Atlas Mountains.
Over the course of its history, Algeria has been occupied by many different groups. The Phoenicians founded colonies on its banks, the Romans built their cities here and the warlike tribes of the Vandals owned this land for a time. But these days Algeria is a firmly Arabic speaking country, and Islam has become the dominant religion.
The picturesque ruins of fortresses, ancient temples and amphitheaters remind of past eras. Traveling around Algiers is a great opportunity to discover the mysterious pages of history, which are closely intertwined here with modernity.
Most Popular Algerian Dishes
Algerian cuisine is similar to the cuisines of its neighbors Morocco and Tunisia. In addition, the strong influences of Turkey and France are obvious.
Algerians have inherited from numerous African countries the habit of using large quantities of greens, oils and olives. And then Arabs saturated the country’s cuisine with aromatic herbs and spices.
Since Algeria is a Muslim state, they do not eat pork or drink alcohol. Locals prefer green tea, milk, various juices and coffee. So without further ado, here are the absolute must-try traditional dishes of Algeria along with recipes to try for yourself.
Couscous is a dish consisting of small steamed granules of rolled durum wheat semolina. It is often prepared from wheat groats, less often from millet or barley. This dish is considered the backbone of Algerian cuisine and can be found on the table of both a poor and a rich family, during an everyday lunch or even at a wedding feast.
A variety of dishes are made from couscous – from side dishes, to lamb and beef, to sweet desserts. It all depends on the what is added which can be vegetables, meat, fish, seafood, raisins, fruits, nuts etc.
Tajine Zitoun, also known as Tajine El Zitoune, Tagine Zitoune or Olive Tajine, is a typical Algerian stew prepared using lamb or chicken and olives as the chief ingredients. Other ingredients added to this dish include onions, carrots, mushrooms and several other vegetables. It is seasoned with thyme, bay leaves, lemon juice and saffron or turmeric.
This dish originates from the city of Algiers, and it is named after the earthenware pot in which it is prepared, a tajine pot. Tajine Zitoun is prepared in a variety of ways depending on where you are in the country. Some variations include a white or red sauce, while others include many different vegetables. Usually, saffron is used, but turmeric is frequently substituted.
Mahdjouba is an Algerian flatbread typically filled with a combination of onion, garlic, tomato, peppers and spices. It is prepared using semolina and is similar to a French crêpe.
It is a widely consumed street food throughout Algeria, including the southern regions such as Ouargla, Ghardaia and Tamanrasset. The name of the dish means covered or veiled in Algerian Darja, and it derives from southern Algeria’s Biskra, Touggourt. It is basically the vegetable-stuffed version of M’semen, a traditional North African flatbread.
Rechta is a dish prepared using pasta that is cut into thin artisan strips, a common characteristic of the eastern Maghreb (Algeria and Tunisia). The noodles are cooked in a cinnamon flavored white sauce. It is then usually accompanied by chicken and vegetables, typically turnips and zucchini.
Algerians mostly make the noodles using homemade dough from durum wheat semolina, flour and eggs. Rechta is usually served during special occasions, such as El Mouloud, Achoura, and El Eid.
Chorba Frik, also known as El Jari (outside of the capital), is a simple soup that is prepared using tomatoes, Frik (a specific type of wheat that is green in colour and packed with fibers), coriander, onions, celery, meat and chickpeas.
It is widely eaten throughout the northern regions of the country, particularly as a main course each day of Ramadan.
Daily during Ramadan, prepare fresh batches of Chorba Frik to break their fast with. This soup is also believed to help with digestion.
Chtitha Batata, also known as Marka Batata and Jwaz Batata, is an Algerian potato stew prepared using dersa, spicy chilli and garlic paste. The dish includes a base of potatoes prepared in a red sauce of onions, tomato puree, paprika and chickpeas.
People often add meat to the sauce and flavor it with salt, pepper and cumin. The broth is allowed to cook until it is thick in consistency, and it is then added on top of the potatoes. It is most commonly served as a side dish with meat or fish. Chtitha Batata is a favorite dish during the winter.
Kesra is a type of Algerian bread made from dough based on semolina and water. It is fried in a hot cast-iron pan and often served with soups, vegetable salads and cold drinks. The name of this dish may differ depending on the region, and may have a different recipe.
The common name for all flour dishes is khobz (hobs) which translates as bread. The most popular type is Kesra, which is baked from finely ground semolina. Algerians often use bread instead of cutlery: it is convenient for them to collect gravy and sauce.
Bourek covers a range of pastry dishes made by layering thin phyllo dough, with fillings such as cheese, minced meat, spinach and seasonings, along with a creamy egg yogurt mixture which is baked into a crispy and flaky pie-like dish.
Merguez is a kind of sausage made of lamb or beef, seasoned with spices popular in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. While the sausage is most common around its North African areas of origin, it is also enjoyed in other countries around the world.