I never forget that world-renowned Chef Paul Bocuse, who was one of my idols, used to say that “similarly to cooking that must respect and maintain the taste of food for that they are, cooks must use words for what they mean”
Uh … except if I told you …
The drunkard tumbles down the stairs (sekran tayeh fe droudj)
My paternal uncle’s house (dar âami)
The breasts of the beautiful woman in the mirror (sder chaba fel mraya)
The deceased in the lap of his mother (mkafan fi hdjar yemah)
The Bey and his court (el bey w-dayertou)
The baby in the lap of his mother (moumou fi hdjer mou)
Kiss him, but do not touch him! (boussou latemessou)
Hey, not so fast!
Algerian cuisine is a cuisine that is extremely rich and every word that is used to designate an appetizer, a main dish or a dessert makes sense… in addition to being funny!
A large number of very old Algerian recipes have quite unusual names like the ones I just mentioned, and there are many others! We go from morbid to burlesque or from royal to erotic. And each word has a meaning.
For my second recipe of our Algerian journey, and after my unforgettable chorba, I chose to kiss you without touching! Coincidentally, just one day after the celebration of the independence of Algeria on 5 July, the world will celebrate the kiss!
You probably already figured it out: boussou latemessou will be my recipe today!
Boussou latemessou (or boussou la tmessou) is a traditional 100% Algerian pastry that is prepared with toasted sesame seeds, lemon, orange blossom water and icing sugar.
Although it is extremely popular throughout the country, it still remains the specialty of Algiers as it is originally from the capital. Boussou latemessou is Algerian dialect for “kiss him without touching him.”
Why such a name?
Probably because as magical as kissing without touching, this small shortbreat instantly disappears once you put it in your mouth! Yes! It crumbles and melts instantly in our mouth! Try it and you’ll see for yourself!
Besides subtle orange blossom and lemon flavors, the dominant flavor of this little wonder is sesame seed. Definitely not as pronounced as in halva but still dominant.
These little seeds that I love can elevate the flavor of the most tasteless dish but they also have unsuspected health benefits.
Given their tiny size, it is inconceivable that they would not only be a very high source of fiber, but that they would also be a great source of vitamins, iron, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and proteins.
You can enjoy all the benefits of sesame seeds as a seasoning for salads, poultry, meat, raw or cooked fish as well as pastries.
As for boussou latemessou, this small pastry with a singular name, it is a big sesame seed all by itself!
This recipe is validated by our Algerian culinary expert Assia Benabbes, author of culinary blog Gourmandise Assia (in French).
- 1 cup butter , soft (not melted)
- ⅖ cup sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- Zest of 3 lemons
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1 cup sesame seeds , toasted
- 4 cups flour (more or less)
- 2 cups icing sugar
- ½ cup orange blossom water
- In a food processor or in a bowl, beat the soft butter and sugar for 2 minutes.
- Add the yolks one by one and then the whole egg, cornstarch, baking powder, sesame seeds, zest and lemon juice.
- Mix well and then gradually add the flour to obtain a non-sticky dough. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 320 F.
- On a floured surface, shape ropes of dough of approximately 1 inch in diameter and cut diamonds of approximately 1 x 1 inch.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.
- Once fully cooled, dip each pastry quickly into orange blossom water and then in icing sugar.
- Let dry for 2 hours and then do the glazing operation one more time.