We can not speak of traditional Algerian culture and lifestyle without first making a premise: Algerian cuisine boasts many differences between the coastal areas, therefore you can find the same diversity among the big cities such as the capital Algiers, and all the inland area; in the latter we can taste the real cuisine of Maghreb, without contamination. In coastal cities, however, the French cuisine has influenced a little all the traditional Algerian dishes. Not to mention the fact that, to satisfy all the tourists who arrive daily in Algiers and in other tourist cities, some restaurants even offer international cuisine.
However, even in these big cities, there are many restaurants that prepare traditional dishes exclusively belonging to Algerian tradition.
Of course, the couscous is somewhat “inevitable”, as in Morocco and Tunisia. In Algeria, the couscous is called KSEKSOU; then, according to the various ingredients, it can be a MASFOUF, a BARKOUKESS, etc…
We find flour as main ingredient of couscous in many other typical dishes, such as soups or desserts. One of these is the RFISS which is made from semolina, walnuts, dates, butter and orange blossom; then there is the KHFAF which is a semolina cake which, with the addition of honey, magically becomes the TAMMINA.
Photo CC-BY-SA Wicanto
Again with the flour in ALGERIA they do MAHDJOUBA, coming with a filling of tomatoes and peppers; the semolina pancakes are called BAGHRIR.
The vegetables, especially in the period of Ramadan, are the main ingredients of many soups, but also of many salads as for example that of grilled peppers, the FELFA, or the mixed pickled vegetables called TBIKHA .
As for the meat, it can be cooked in various ways, but the most traditional preparation is stewing it with vegetables, in suitable pans called Tajines from which also comes the name of these dishes.
The meat is the main ingredient of meatballs, always very spicy, which can be chicken, the MHAVET, or lamb, the METEWAN. The KEFTA look very much like hamburgers.
The chicken meat is prepared in many ways, and each dish has its own name: the YAHNI is the fried chicken; the stew chicken with chickpeas is called CHETITHA DJEDJ, the stew with egg and lemon is called SFERIA; instead RECTHA indicates a dish of chicken and semolina.
All of these savory dishes are accompanied by the Algerian bread, which is prepared without yeast, and usually cooked on the plate; normally during lunch they not used the cutlery, as the bread is precisely used to take food from large serving dishes.
Algeria is the motherland of a typical drink made of fermented milk and is called LBEN; this drink usually accompanies the sweets. One of these sweets is the TCHARAK, a croissant stuffed with almond paste.
Other traditional drinks are coffee, prepared in the Turkish way, or tea -usually mint tea. Algerian wines are excellent, both the whites and the reds and rosés ones; some of the best wines are produced in wineries located in the western region of Algeria, in the provinces of Oran and Algiers.
Bon voyage then and have a good tasting in Algeria (click here to book a ferry)!