What is akod?
Akod or akoud is an ancestral dish and the epitome of Tunisian Jewish cuisine. Any Tunisian Jew will never receive you at his table for a royal kemia without banatages, briks, fricassés, minina or akod!
Akod is a dish of tripe beautifully scented with cumin, garlic, tomato paste and harissa.
Poor tripe and offal that have had mixed fortunes over the past few years! It is clear that the idea of eating the offals or heart of a cow is certainly not a treat for everyone.
While, on the one hand, older generations have never ceased to appreciate them, on the other hand, the youngest have seriously been shying away from these delicacies.
Yet, despite initial hesitation and skepticism, often even the most picky eaters are conquered after the first spoon. A number of them are irreversibly converted to the wonderful taste and texture of tripe.
For a few years, while Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, has ravaged even the most adventurous eaters, tripe and other offal were shunned but, for a few years now, tripe has made a slow comeback, especially thanks to the real epicureans who have chosen to focus on culinary roots through traditional dishes.
Restaurants, but also and especially starred restaurants often have tripe on their menu. Even internationally renowned chefs, like British chef Gordon Ramsay to name just him, serve tripe in many variations.
What is tripe?
During Antiquity, Homer, the famous Greek poet already referred to it. According to him, Achilles’ mother, Thésis, would have prepared a dish of beef tripe after plunging him into the Styx River to make him invulnerable… A few years later, Greek writer Athénée also mentioned a dish composed of “cattle intestines”.
Tripe was also mentioned in Roman Antiquity during which haruspices (psychic), practiced a form of divination called haruspicy, which consisted in inspecting the entrails of animals to predict the future.
Great warriors also loved tripe… Indeed, William the Conqueror prepared tripe with apple juice.
Some French writers too, could not resist tripe! Thus, Rabelais gave birth to his character Garguantua, after Gargamelle, mother of the latter, had eaten a “platée de gaudebillaux”, that is to say “tripe of fattened oxen”.
Tripe is offal. It corresponds to the stomachs of ruminants such as ox (beef), veal, pork (pig) and mutton (sheep). The stomach is, in these animals, divided into 4:
- abomasum or abomasum (main stomach),
- the rumen,
- the leaf tripe or omasum,
- the reticulum that is familiarly known as the honeycomb.
For the akod, add some large intestine, as well as the genitals and the penis.
Most of the time, butchers offer washed and bleached tripe. So they say they are “half-cooked”. Less often, they are sold raw, so it will be necessary to scald them for at least 3 hours by changing the water many times. To prepare akod, beef tripe is generally used.
Versions of akod in North Africa
In Morocco, it is called douara (dwara) or t’qualia. It is sometimes also called kercha. Douara is prepared with mutton tripe, rarely with beef tripe, and it is cooked more or less with the same spices and ingredients as akod.
In Algeria, it is called bakbouka or also douara (or dowara). It is also mutton tripe, but vegetables such as carrots, zucchini and chickpeas are added to the Algerian bakbuka. In Oran, in the Northwest of Algeria, people make chkamba (or chkembey), a tripe dish with cumin, paprika, thyme, cilantro and bay leaves.
Tunisians call it chmenka. Chmenka is prepared with lamb tripe too. To prepare it, people use the same ingredients as akod but also add lamb’s heart, lamb liver, potato and chickpeas. Chmenka is a dish also very popular with the Jewish community of Tunisia.
The Jewish community in Morocco also has its akod. It is called tajine al guezar, which means “the butcher’s pot”. This delicious version is also prepared with cumin and paprika but without tomato paste.
In some regions of Morocco, tiny beef dumplings are added to the tripe and in others, pieces of liver and heart, or even both, sometimes in addition to the beef dumplings. In Morocco, it is a popular dish during Pesach (Passover) when it is general cooked for nearly 10 hours, over low heat on hot coals.
Many people ask if tripe is fat, often because they want to eat some, while on a low calorie diet!
Well, tripe is anything but fat! Yes, tripe is a lean and high protein food. It does not contain carbohydrates or fibers. It contains good amounts of iron (useful for fighting and preventing iron deficiency anemia) and a high concentration of many B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin and niacin).
In summary, contrary to what one might think, tripe is low in calories: only 108 Kcal per 100 g. Of course, the way you prepare them and the seasoning you choose will increase the total number of calories.
Slow cooking, during which the sauce slowly reduces, results in an exquisite and melting Tunisian akod. Do not hesitate to increase the cooking time on low heat if necessary. The more the akod simmers, the better it is. The goal is to get a creamy sauce that coats the pieces of akod.
Be brave and try this sumptuous delicacy! Akod is definitely a dish for connoisseurs and epicureans! Just give it a try and you will be very pleasantly surprised! Enjoy it with Tunisian Italian bread, it’s just orgasmic!
- 4 lb tripe (abomasum, bonnet, leaf tripe, large intestine, penis and genitals)
- 1 cow's trotter
- 1 head garlic , peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons harissa
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ cup olive oil
- Thoroughly rinse the tripe and cow's trotter, and rub vigorously between both hands. Drain and cut into pieces.
- Cook the tripe and the cow's trotter in a large volume of boiling salted water for 1h30 by changing 3 times the cooking water (the water must always be boiling).
- Reserve the last cooking water and drain the tripe and cow's trotter.
- In a cast iron pot or Dutch oven, pour the olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Fry the tripe and cow's trotter in this oil for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add garlic, paprika, tomato paste, salt, pepper, harissa and half of the cumin. Stir well.
- Pour the reserved cooking liquid at a height of 1 inch above the tripe. Reserve the rest of the cooking juices.
- Cover and cook for 30 minutes over low/medium heat.
- Then reduce the heat and cook covered and over very low heat for 4 hours.
- During cooking, if the sauce is lacking in the pot, add some of the reserved (boiling) cooking water in small amounts each time.
- If there is no sauce and no more cooking juices, add boiling water, always in small amounts.
- Ten minutes before the end of cooking, add the other half of the cumin.
- Serve very hot by placing a few pieces of mixed tripe in a dish on a generous bed of sauce.