The Diversity of North African Cuisine

The North African kitchen is always associated with couscous as a staple, and rightly so. But the flavors and influences create regional differences that give each of the Maghreb countries it’s distinct characteristics. The Moroccans are the master’s of spice blending, using the most exquisite ingredients such as saffron, preserves, dried fruits and nuts to create surreal sweet-savory dishes.  The Tunisians like things fiery hot and the freshest produce are always used. Eggs, potatoes and harissa always find their way into every dish. Libya is most strongly influenced by the Ottoman reign of over 300 years and this is apparent in the most exquisite sweets and desserts Libyans produce to this day; pure local cedar honey, almonds and distilled orange blossom water are the stars here.

Below are a few of my favorite dishes that showcase the best of what North Africa has to offer.  Credit for these beautiful photographs goes to Azizi Ahmad, whose work you have seen throughout the blog, and will see more of as we are planning future collaborations. You can see more of Azizi’s work on his blog, Sahara Desert’s Photographer, and read about him in the Look Out Libya expat interview.  He was our guest of honor for iftar on Tuesday when he took these photos.

If you look closely you can see Azizi's reflection in the serving spoon!
The table setting is just as important as the food
The Fanoos (lantern) is symbolic of breaking the fast at dusk during Ramadan; Egypt is well known for producing them

The habit of eating Turkish Delight in Libya was inherited from the pashas of the Ottoman era
Morrocan Tadeffi, Saffron infused garlic and mint soup from the city of Fez
Tunisian B'rik bil Batata, potato filled Malsouka (Tunisian borek pastry) served with a fiery Tunisian harissa
Morroccan Za'aluk, grilled aubergine and tomato salad
Tunisian Torchi, freshly pickled beet, carrot and red onion salad
Moroccan D'jaj M'Charmel, saffron infused chicken with preserved lemons, onions and olives
Milk and rice flour pudding fragranced with orange blossom water, introduced to Libya during the Ottoman reign
Luqma al-Qadi, "the judge's mouthful", bitesize crispy dumplings coated with honey infused syrup and sesame seeds, another inherited Libyan dessert

One Comment Add yours

  1. Yaseen El kanuni says:

    The month of Ramadan came and went. I ask Allah most gracious and beneficient to grant us presence to yet worship his holy month again.

    No doubt Ramadan is so very special in all its virtues. However much one may say or describe the way in which this month brings joy and matrimony, in so many ways, one can only ask for more .

    Speaking of more, the photos reflect so much warmth and togetherness its very vibrant and welcoming. The food in itself is very colorful and the looks of it only makes one wish one can experience the velocity of the ingredients dancing with ones taste buds.

    I am sure your efforts and that of your team will most certainly have an impact on the way think about food as a volume, lively word and not just as a stand alone subject.

    Please do carry on the quest for excellence, you have not a long way to go .

    Mubarik Eidkom and may Allah bless and reward all your efforts, and ease the challenge.

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