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Friday, April 2, 2010

Algerian Cuisine

The cuisine of Algeria is a combination of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. It differs slightly from region to region. Algeria produces a large variety of Mediterranean fruit and vegetables. The main meat is lamb and fish and seafood are consumed as well. However, Algerians eat more meat than fish.

Algerians also may have soup as a starter as well as other appetizing appetizers.

Appetizers:

Algerian Chili (Loubia B’dersa) – Small navy beans are brought to a boil then left to stand in the hot water for an hour and then drained. In a large soup pot cook onions in oil until tender then add chilies, garlic, paprika, pepper and cumin. Afterwards tomato paste until mixture is thick. Tomatoes are stirred in and a cup of water or broth and bring to a boil. Add beans, remaining water or broth, bay leaves, cayenne and parsley sprigs tide together with a cotton string. Cook until beans are tender. Before serving chilies, bay leaves and the tied parsley is discarded. Season with salt and minced parsley and cilantro. May be served with vinegar on the side.

Algerian Harira – Lamb is seasoned with salt and pepper then browned in a stock pot. Onions, tomato paste are added and stirred. Afterwards add water, chick peas, spice blend of ones choice and brought to a boil. After an hour add white beans and bulghur wheat after a half an hour lentils, carrots and celery. Finally vermicelli.

Bourek (Beef stuffed pastry rolls) – Onion, beef with salt and pepper is stir fried. Then egg and parsley are added. Beef mixture is placed on a phyllo dough sheet a little at a time and packets are formed. Then the packets are browned on both sided and drained on paper towels. Served with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Chickpea Soup – Mutton and onion are browned then chickpeas and water is added. This is brought to a boil and diced potatoes and tomato paste is added with salt and pepper.

Dersat el’sane (Algerian Spicy Beef Tongue) – In a pot onions are sautéed the carrots and celery are added. Afterwards tomatoes, peppers and a peeled beef tongue. Covered with water and brought to a boil. Bay leaves are added and cooked for 2 hours. Algerians cook tongue until very soft in texture it may be left firmer. When the tongue is done the broth and vegetables are put through a food mill and a ½ tablespoon of spices is added. The sauce is boiled until slightly reduces. The tongue is sliced and put back into the broth and vinegar or lemon juice is added and heated through.

Spiced Potato Cakes – Potatoes are mashed with spices, cilantro, eggs and seasonings. Patties are formed. Covered and chilled for 30 minutes. The cakes are then fried until crispy and brown on both sides and drained.

Algerian soups are often thick and rich with a consistency like stew. Meat stews are served in deep soup dishes. Chickpeas are a common ingredient as well as orzo which are small soup pasta noodles.

Soups:

Algerian Fish Soup – Onion is sautéed the garlic and tomatoes are added and simmered. Spices, potatoes and broth are added. Afterwards firm white fish and cooked until fish flakes. Puree soup in a blender or food processor and simmered for 10 minutes more.

Chorba Akhtaboot – Onions and peppers are sautéed. Drained tomatoes are added and cooked until most of the liquid drains. The cleaned and cut into pieces octopus is added. Everything is covered with water and cooked for several hours. Afterwards bulghur wheat is added and then seasoned with salt and spices.

Chorba Hamra – Lamb is sautéed with onion, coriander, cayenne, black pepper, cinnamon and salt. After the meat is browned 6 cups of broth are added along with tomatoes, potatoes, carrot, zucchini, celery, and chick peas. When almost ready add vermicelli. Served in bowls with a slice of lemon on top.

Lentil Soup with Vegetables (Lentille Bil Khodra) – Cubed beef is sautéed with onion and garlic. Then salt, pepper, cumin, caraway, cayenne and turmeric are added. Afterwards tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, celery, parsley and water. Brought to a boil and lentils and tomato paste is added. Served over rice or couscous.

Shorba – Cubed chicken, onion, zucchini, potato, celery, carrot, salt, pepper, cinnamon, paprika, tomato paste, oil, chick peas (if using dried ones) and water are added to a large pot. Then sautéed for 20 minutes and more water added and set to boil. Then pasta and chick peas (if canned) are added. When done add parsley and mint and serve with lemon slices.

Salads:
Algerian Avocado Salad – Avocado is cut in halves. In a big bowl sliced tomatoes, red onions and lettuce is placed. Sprinkled with lime juice, salt and pepper. Tossed and avocado on top.

Algerian Salad – sweet red peppers, tomatoes, sliced cucumber, onions, pitted and halved black olives, anchovy fillets, hard boiled eggs, fresh basil or cilantro are tossed together with olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper.

Black Eyed Pea Salad – Black eyed peas are boiled until a little chewy along with coriander, garlic, ginger and red pepper. A dressing is prepared with oil, vinegar, salt and paprika and then added to the peas just as they are removed from the heat. Then allowed to cool to room temperature and served.

Chlada Bandjar, Algerian Beet Salad – Wash and trim beets, place on a sheet of foil, season with salt and drizzle with oil, wrap in foil and bake in oven for 2 hours or until tender. When cool slice. An Algerian vinaigrette consists of 1 part vinegar or lemon juice and 3 or 4 parts olive oil. To this you can add chopped herbs, minced garlic and shallots. If beets need more sweetness sugar can be added to the vinaigrette. Cover beets with as much vinaigrette as you like, salt may be added.

Salatat Khiyar – Thinly sliced cucumbers are placed in a bowl with green pepper, olives and mint. The coriander, paprika, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper are added and tossed.

Main Dishes:

Algerian Chicken Couscous – Onion and garlic are sautéed in oil. Then stir in cayenne, cinnamon, and cumin. Add tomatoes, carrots, celery, cauliflower, pepper, turnip and broth. Boil for 15 minutes and add chicken breasts cut in strips and zucchini. Cook couscous as directs, fluff and stir into mixture and serve.

Big Meatballs (Coclo) – Ground beef is mixed with rice, garlic, egg, salt, bay leaf, mace, pepper, thyme and olive oil then shaped into 2 large balls. Onion, cilantro and water are place in a pan and the meatballs added. Cover pan and simmer 2 or more hours. Remove and discard cilantro. Serve with rice or couscous.

Chicken with Chick Peas and Lemon – A large chicken is cut into pieces. Combine garlic, salt, pepper, ginger and saffron. Add ½ butter and stir well. Rub all over chicken and allow to marinade overnight. Put chicken in pan and add parsley, cilantro, green onions, cinnamon stick and enough water to cover and boil 1 hour. Sautee red onion until browned. Remove chicken from pan and add onion, chick peas and remaining herbs and simmer until liquid is reduced. Add lemon juice and remove from heat, discard cinnamon and pour sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with parsley and cilantro.

Crevett Mekli (Qamrone) Mekli, Crevettes Sautees, Algerian Sauteed Shrimp – Rinse and drain shrimp. Saute hot chilies and shallots in olive oil and butter. Add garlic then shrimp and season with salt. Cook until shrimp just curl. Squeeze on lemon juice.

In the mornings Algerians usually drink mint tea and for ceremonies with pastries. They are heavy coffee drinkers and Arabic coffee is very popular. Fruit juice and soft drinks are common and drunk daily. Algerians used to produce large quantities of wine during the French colonization but production has reduced since the independence.

Bourek (Beef-Stuffed Pastry Rolls)
Ingredients
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
1 egg ~ beaten
1 small Onion ~ chopped (1/4 cup)
2 tbsp Flat leaf Parsley ~ chopped
1/2 lb Ground Beef
6 phyllo sheets ~ 12x17" each
1/2 TSP salt or to taste
lemon wedges for serving
1/4 TSP Black pepper
Directions
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet, add the Onion and stir-fry over moderate heat for 2 minutes.
2. Add the Beef, salt and pepper and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
3. Then add the egg and Parsley and fry for 1 minute more. Cool well.
4. Take 1 phyllo sheet and spread it out flat with a short end nearest you.
5. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the Beef mixture 2 inches in from the short edge.
6. Fold both long sides in toward the middle, beginning with the short end roll the phyllo to shape a packet 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.
7. Repeat with all the remaining phyllo sheets and stuffing. Set aside.
8. Put the balance of the oil in a skillet over moderate/low heat and add the rolls.
9. Brown on both sides for about 3 minutes; the low heat prevents the very thin pastry sheets from burning.
10. Drain the rolls on paper towels for a minute.
11. Serve warm with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Chorba Hamra (Algeria)
Ingredients
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 Pound Lamb (Optional) -- cubeed
1 Large Onion -- chopped
2 Teaspoons Ground Coriander
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne
1 Pinch black pepper
1 Pinch cinnamon
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Pound tomatoes -- mashed
1 Large Potato -- sliced
1 Large carrot -- sliced
1 Medium zucchini -- sliced
1 Stalk celery -- chopped
1 Can Chick Peas
1/4 Pound vermicelli
6 Cups vegetable broth
1 Medium lemon -- thinly sliced
Directions
1) Saute in oil Lamb, Onion, coriander, Cayenne, black pepper, cinnamon and salt.
2) When meat is well browned, add 6 cups broth. Bring to boil. Add all vegetables. cover, reduce heat, simmer covered until vegetables are the desired consistency.
3) Return to boil, add Pasta and cook until done, serve in bowls with slice of lemon on top of each. By Rasma Raisters

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