The Algerian flag will fly over 196 flavors until July 5, as we celebrate Algeria’s Independence Day, that was proclaimed on July 5th, 1962.
It is also our pleasure to welcome Assia Benabbes to the team. Assia is the author of culinary blog Gourmandise Assia and she accepted to be our culinary expert for Algerian cuisine. You can get to know her by reading the exclusiveinterview that she granted us.
I had the opportunity to meet Assia in November 2015, at the Golden Blog Awards where both our blogs were nominated, and what immediately caught my attention was her smile, humor but also her positivity!
Mike opened the festivities a few days ago by cooking maakoudas and he deserves an applause as we crushed our record of trafic on the blog! Congratulations Mike!
(1) North Africa, (2) a soup. You can imagine that I’m in heaven!
I was born in Fez, Morocco, and I definitely love the food from my homeland!
It was actually imported to Algeria by Turkish invaders in the sixteenth century. In the Ottoman army, soup was particularly important in the Janissary Corps where the çorbaci (literally “soup man”) was a military rank equivalent to colonel. From Turkey, it spread throughout the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia and the Maghreb.
In Turkey, it is called çorba, in Iran: chourba (شوربا), in Afghanistan: chorwa (شوروا), in Romania: ciorba, in Kyrgyzstan: chorpo (шорпо), in Russia: churpa (шурпа), in Kazakhstan: sorpa (сорпа), and in Central Asia: chorpa (شورپا).
Each region in Algeria has its own recipe, whether one is in the center, east, west or south of the country. Recipes and variations are a dime a dozen.
Chorba is traditionally prepared with mutton or lamb which can also be substituted with beef or poultry depending on the recipes and regions.
In the capital, Algiers, people talk more about chorba hamra fdaouech (red chorba with vermicelli), which, by itself, has several variants: with squash, eggplant, fresh beans, potatoes, peas or a mix of vegetables.
To the east of the country, the most consumed chorba is chorba beida or jari abyad (white chorba). It is prepared with chicken or ground meat, the most important being the lemon and eggs mixture added at the end of the preparation, a method that is reminiscent of avgolemono soup that Mike shared with us in January.
Chorba dchicha (barley), lssan el asfour (orzo), foul (dry fava beans), and freekeh (green cracked wheat) are also widely consumed in the country.
Personally, I chose to prepare chorba frik. The recipe for this soup is pretty similar throughout the country. It is prepared with mutton or lamb, either ground or in chunks, with or without chickpeas, but you should never forget the cilantro, mint and… freekeh!
Freekeh was a discovery for me, but it is not the first time it is cooked on 196 flavors. We discovered this ingredient 2 years when we featured freekeh with chicken from Kuwait.
I followed Assia’s recipe and to I served this chorba with small kesra breads that we savored hot.
Everything was absolutely delicious!
- ¾ lb lamb , cut into pieces
- 2 scallions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch cilantro , chopped
- 1 celery stalk , with leaves
- 3 to matoes
- ½ cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)
- 1 teaspoon paprika (and/or chili powder)
- 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 7 oz. freekeh , rinsed and drained
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 cups water
- In a pressure cooker, brown the meat in olive oil.
- Add the scallions, garlic, tomatoes, and celery to meat. Add half the cilantro leaves and tomato paste. Add the chickpeas, stir and sauté over low heat covered for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the spices, salt, bay leaf, mint and hot water. Increase heat to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.
- Close the pressure cooker and cook on medium heat for 1 hour.
- Open the pressure cooker and check the amount of liquid. Add a little boiling water if necessary.
- Add frik into the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes over low/medium heat, stirring regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Turn off the heat and add remaining cilantro.