Algero -Yemeni brunch

Salam, Hello,
During Easter holiday,  my Yemeni friend and I thought about holding  a brunch at my place and prepare typical breakfast dishes from our respective countries.
 After few minutes of brainstorming our eventual menu , we were  » lost in translation!!
Me: what ? kofta , beans, liver …for breakfast !  I ‘m afraid, I can’t swallow those  dishes  at such an early hour!
She:  oh My! You can take honey soaked baklawa , jam and creamy pastry and frown upon beans and egg! ?
Well, Algerians have a lethal sweet tooth and seldom serve savory dishes on breakfast  and though  I’ve been staying overseas for more than a decade and live in a country where rice is eaten for breakfast, I stayed more or less faithful to my country’s traditions.
If I need to sum up Algerian breakfast – and by extension  North  African , I would say:carbs ( bread, buns, traditional  pancakes, cookies , pastry )
Fat ( butter or olive oil  ) and tons of sugar, honey and any thing in between!

The french influence is also very present and goes in harmony with the choice of our traditional carb/ sweet breakfast menu!.

Indeed, the concept of a heavy Middle-Eastern breakfast  called rayou/ rayoug ( ريوق) is non existent in North Africa… Breakfast is not as important as lunch , dinner or afternoon break . People are usually early birds, they drink their coffee/ mint green tea , take light sweet breakfast in order to make room for their  noon lunch  .

In Yemen, breakfast, is the most important meal of the day, heavy and savory dishes like red beans,  fried kofta, mutton liver are usually served.

So here are few shots from the goodies I managed to prepare :

crepe

-Algerian buns- chrik costantinois– stuffed half the dough with chocolate chips and flavored the rest with orange zest ( the plaited crowns),

-Algerian mssemen  served the mixture of honey and butter,

-Italian marble cake

-French crepes served with chocolate ganache, rasberry jam and philadelphia cheese.

-Individual tajine bounarine – a speciality of the city of Annaba and constantine . The recipe is similar to this tajine jben but with minced meat instead of chickrn

-Traditional ghraiba and chocolate crackles.

-Green and black olives, vache qui rit cheese.
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From the yemeni part, my friend brought :

-Yemeni  fried kofta with its salad and minty , spicy sauce

-Beans
-Bread,

-Liver and meat dips

-Yemeni doughnut called el megasgas .

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FRANCAIS

Pendant les  vaccances de paques, mon amie yemeni et moi avions decide’ d’organiser un brunch ( repas matinal ) representant nos deux pays respectifs.
Chacune de nous , devait preparer des plats typiques cosommes generalement pendant le petit dejeuner.

A notre grand amusement, nous avons decouvert qu’il n’avait rien de commun entre le petit dejeuner Algerien et son homologue yemeni.

Au yemen, on sert plusieurs mets sales comme le fois de moutons, kofta frites avec sa salade, et sa sauce epicee’, des haricots en sauce rouge….etc….

En Algerie , les gens se levent generalement tot, mangent leger et par consequent sucre’ pour laisser de la place au dejeuner, qui est souvent servi a midi ou au  plutard a  13h.

Et comme nous avons la dent plutot sucre’, un petit dejeuner algerien typique est souvent compose’ de

pains, brioches , crepes ….soit traditionnel ou occidentals, ,  …servi avec du beurre et de la confiture,
beignets ou crepes traditionnels ( mssemens, ftayers,  baghrir….., le tout servi d’un melange de beurre et de miel ou bien d’huile d’olive surtout dans les regions amazigh..

gateaux traditionnels ( sables, croquants, ghraibas, makroud, baklawa…..etc)
Ou bien pains, brioches et patisserie occidentale…

Ceci- ci dit, voici ce que j’ai pu preparer pour ce brunch

table

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-Brioche Algerienne ( Chrik Constantinois) ..faconne’ la moitie’ en ruche d’abeilles et fourree’ de pepites de chocolat et aromatise’ le reste avec le zeste d’orange en lui donnant la forme de couronnes tressees.

Tajine bounarine en forme individuele- c’est un tajine , typique aux villes d’annaba et de constantine et se prepare comme un tajine jben   mais avec de laviande hachee’, a la place du poulet
Ce tajine n’est jamais consomme’ au petit dejeuner mais comme c’est un brunch je voulais introduire des mets sales tout en restant  dans le traditionnel.

Graiba traditionnelle et crackles au chocolat

Mssemens servis avec un melange de beurre et de miel

Un marbre‘ italien

Des crepes francaises servi avec de la ganache au chocolat, confiture de murre et fromage philadelphia

Des olives vertes et noire et fromage en portions

Cote’ yemeni, mon amie a ramene’ :

Du pain iranien , des haricots en sauce rouge, kofta frite avec sa sauce epicee’ et salade

Des beignets yemeni , appelles el megasgaz  ,

Du foi de mouton  et du veau epices.

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Enjoy!

Publicités

Tea-time gatherings with An Algerian twist

Hello/ salam out there
How are you doing? Hope every one has spent great holidays and Eid
I apologize for not being much on line the last couple of months.
It was the children long holiday break in my part of the world, and I didn’t have time and energy to blog, as I was busy spending quality time with them .
But this didn’t stop  me from cooking and baking…I have so   many recipes and pictures  waiting to be to shared  ,so  just stay tuned… 
and  let’s go straight to the core of today’s post…..

Through the past few months, my family and  friends shared with me some pictures of different gatherings on diverse occasions, so I thought about sharing with you some elements of Algerian tea-time culture .

Do you have any idea  about how a typical Algerian  tea time gathering  woud Look like, or mean  ?

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One of the most important social gatherings  in Algeria  is the daily session of tea or coffee drinking.as it firmly bonds the family and friendship ties and get people  to chat, lough or gossip about life hilghlights.

Yasmina khadra( Algerian novelist of French expression) and Ahlam mostghanmy ( Algerian novelist of Arabic expression) sum up the importance of tea time gathring in Algeria …..

« Nous ne sommes pas paresseux. Nous prenons le temps de vivre ,ce qui n’est pas le cas des occidentaux. pour eux, le temps, c’est de l’argent, pour nous, le temps n’a pas de prix. un verre de the’ suffit a notre bonheur, alors quaucun bonheur ne leur suffit. toute la difference est la, mon garcon.. » YASMINA KHADRA….. extrait du roman  » Ce que le jour doit a la nuit »

لتعود بعد لحظات, بصينية قهوة نحاسيه كبيرة عليها إبريق، وفناجين, وسكريه, ومرشّ لماء الزهر, وصحن للحلويات
في مدن أخرى تقدم القهوة جاهزة في فنجان, وضعت جواره مسبقاً معلقه وقطعة سكر
ولكن قسنطينة مدينه تكره الإيجاز في كل شيء .

Ahlam mostghanmy,extract of ….. « dhakirat jassad »   / »memory of a body »

unlike middleastern and Turkish traditionion  where savoury pastries and fingerfood can be served   during social gatherings, 
Algerians ( and North African in general),  are   great sugar addict…. the key  ingredients for their morning and afternoon treats  are sugar, honey, butter and  a large variety  of  sweet pastries , either of  Algerian origin  like traditional cookies and pastries or of  French origin  such as les tartelettes, millefeuille, etc….

Here are few examples of Algerian traditional delicacies, usually served with a mixture of honey /sugar and butter

Mchelwech: click  HERE  for the recipie  

mchelwech2

Mssemen: click  HERE for the recipie

mssemen

Sfenj : Algerian doughnut:

sfenj2

Chrik : Algerian buns from the city of Constantine,  click  HERE  for the recipe

chrik

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Traditional sweets like  halwa tourk -Turkish halva- and jawziya ( Algerian nougat made with natural honey and nuts, very much appreciated in the city of Constantine )

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 Huzelnut stuffed dry figs

halwa7Jawziya, dates, and mssemens

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Caprices ( left) Algerian toffee sweets

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Green mint  tea, black coffee and cafe’ au lait ( french influence for the latter ) are usualy served along trays of homemade delicacies.
Cookies,  and traditional pastries are prepared all year  long  and kept in the freezer in case of unxpected guests as it’s extremely rude in Algeria to serve coffee on its own…..

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sables

fruits

In my region, and though copper ustencils are no longer widely used as in the past ,  the big ,one- meter  large copper trays  called siniya bou mitra  are still used as they are very practical to carry the different thermos of coffee, cafe’ au lait, sugar , napkin holder, orange blossom water holder ( m’rach, مرش) and of course the different trays of cookies and pastries.

siniya

M’rach : orange blossom water splasher

mrach

This is  typical siniya(copper tray )  covered with a cloth with thermos of black coffee,  cafe’ au lait , and a »  mrach  » ( splasher )  filled with orange blossom water for those who  like  blossom flavour in their coffee.

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Green mint tea is served in a traditional tea pot called berrad  or bekraj and it’s usually served with tids bids like dry fruits and the like…..nuts like pinenuts and peanuts are put in the bottom of  the cups and float on the surface after tea is poured.

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 so, shall I serve you tea or coffee?

Breads of Algeria / Pains d’Algerie

One of the main differences between North African and middle eastern cuisines lies in bread being the sole staple food for the former in contrast to bread and rice for the latter ( except for Lybia whose geography gives it the privilege of being  a cross culture between maghreb and machrek regions )

I was once discussing this matter with an Iranian friend who was  surprised to learn this fact, she Asked me about the  type of  food we offer  our guests during big ceremonies like marriages, and whether we need to bake tons of bread to feed them,  I said that we have other alternatives like couscous , and other local handmade pasta which play the same role as rice in other countries  and invited her to try our Algerian tlitli  ( clic ) that she liked very much.

Wheat is a significant agricultural product in Algeria but the demand for this crop is so high that the government  is compelled  to import more quantities, making the country  among the top ten importers of wheat in the world  , (according to ArabicNews.com)

Like in many other cultures of the world, bread  to Algerians, means more than just food to nourish the body. it has a variety of spiritual and social values that we can detect in the many proverbs and idiomatic expressions that call for the word « khoubz  » or  » kssour » the plural of  » kesra » which litarally means bread in Algerian dialect.

Algerians speak Arabic and a variety of Amazigh/ berber dialects, so bread in Algeria has many synonyms, khobz, kesra, aghroum…..

we say khobz when we speak about bread as a general term, and kesra when we refer to the flat , round, Algerian bread in contrast for example to the french loaf

the Amazigh regions of Algeria, like  Kabylia and Aures use the word Aghroum to refer to bread.

For many years, I was puzzled with the meaning of the word  » kesra » especially after discovering that is also used in Sudan….so thanks to uncle google i came to know  that  » kesra » means « a piece of « ……..something in old arabic , and even found a poem with the phrase » kesratou khobz » meaning a piece of bread.

One of the specificities of Algerian bread is the use of fine semoulina which needs lots of kneading compared to flour based breads.

Algerians cook their kesra on clay griddle called tajine , that is often   put on a sort of brazier  or a tabouna.  tabouna and tajines are important cookware equipements  for Algerian families, you’ll find them  in every household across the country, even the busiest working moms who don’t have time to cook their own bread, will keap these two elements  in their kitchen  in order  to make kesra  during  lasy weekends  or for  ramadan dinners.

different types of tajines

Tabouna

clay tajine, put on the tabouna, ready to cook the kesra:

kesra getting cooked on a metal tajine:

on these tajines, various Algerian bread and delicacies are being cooked, such as :

Kesra matlou which is a leavened, spongious bread , excellent for  main courses dishes or dips:

kesra Rakhsis :

more dense than the former, but no less delicious. rakhis contains no, or less quantity of yeast in addition to the presence of oil

the plain type of tajine  is also used to make baghrir , a North African pancake that you can also find in Morocco and the west part of Tunisia

Mssemens/Mhajebs:

Mssemens are  north african crepes, that remind us of the indian parathas. in Algeria, we call the plain version mssemens and the stuffed one mhajebs. the dough is made out of semoulina  which gives them crispiness and character in comparaison to the flour made versions.

mssemens are cooked on a metal griddle called mraa ,placed  on the above tabouna.

Other than  the tajine  cooked breads, we have also oven baked types that we call khobz koucha or khoubz edar . these breads are made of fine semoulina flour, and enriched with oil, eggs, milk,  and /or zest of orange and orange blossom water.

khobz edar is traditionaly  prepared during ceremonies , ramadan , eid lakbir but also for our own pleasure when we feel like eating it.

In addition to the former types of bread which has been prepared by Arab and amazigh women of Algeria for thousands  of years,  the legacy of french bread culture is very evident in modern Algeria.

The French introduced , their well-known loaves of bread, brioches and other types of european like bread during their presence in the country that lasted more than a century .

In all  Algerian bakeries and bread stores, you will not only find the uniform baguette, but also multiform ones , crowns, sesame round loafs, flat loafs,  brioche, sugar breads , placed proudly on the shelves .

NB: Thanks to my friend kooky who provided me with the pictures of tajines and tabouna

Algerian pastry

Rich, crunchy, nutty,honey-soaked, charming  , and beautifully  shaped…….this is  how I would describe the  Algerian pastry……..

Algerians take cookie baking very seriously , they’re always in constant search for new ideas to diversify the design of their traditional pastries , sparing , hence,  no effort or material to create new decadant delights . To my despair , every time I go back to Algeria , I find that the level of cookie is being  raised to a whole new level of sophistication and feel so  » left-behind » with the simple recipes I make for my  family!

So why this obssesion with cookies ?

simply because my fellowcountrymen  have a serious sweet tooth and no afternoon-tea in Algeria is possible  without a cookie. if you ever  get yourself invited to share a cup of coffee with an Algerian family, don’t expect to find savory tidbids but a wide range of of traditional homebaked goodies , displayed  in a round copper tray called siniya along side mint tea , turkish coffee or cafe’ au lait.
This post is an attempt  to categorize the different types of Algerian cookies, because even though people tend to give them the umbrella name of  » patisserie orientale »  every North African or Middle- Eastern  country has its own range of cookies that  may necessarily not be shared with the neighbours…..

Honey-dipped cookies ( halawiyat  maasla  ):

this type of cookies is very  popular in Algeria like elsewhere in the south and east part of the middeteranean . Once baked or fried,  they are generally  dipped or soaked in honey    then garnished with grounds nuts or sesamy seeds . They include makroud, baklawa, ktayef , griwech , mhancha, samsa etc……in addition to a whole new range of modern cookies that have been created in the last decade .

 

Royal ice -coated cookies ( gateaux glaces):

Unlike the former gategory ,these  cookies are  almost typical to Algeria. Except for the Tunisian » mlebess » , you will not find ice-coated cookies elsewhere in the arabworld ….these conffections  which  are  often  almond or nut based are first  baked then dipped in royal icing and left to dry before being beautifully  decorated . they include  » mkhabaz, arayech, couronnes glacees etc…….


Ice sugar coated cookies:

this type of cookies are often  almond based, whether or not  coated with a thin layer of dough   , they are usually   baked for few minutes then   soaked in a syrup and finally  showered  with ice sugar, they include tcharek lemsaker  and the famous makroud elouz

No bake cookies ( gateaux sans cuisson :

There is  a large  selection  of cookies that fall into this category , either traditional one  like « rfiss » that uses typical local ingredients such    as semoulina, and dates or modern types   like » bniwen  » which is a great way  to  recycle  those ramadan delicacies like  halwat halkoum ( turkish delight)  halwat  tourk ,  chocolate and  bisckuit crumbs . this category includes  rfiss, taminat louz, hrissa, kefta, bniwen to name a few   ……..

 

Petit Fours : These are the cookies that Algerians make on regular basis to accompagny  their afternoon treats. cheap ingredients such as  flour, egg  , butter and  oil,  are used  in contrust with the above categories that often call for the use of   expensive nuts. examples of these cookies include ghrayba, halwat tabaa, halwat lambout  , sables, croquant,and other  petits fours with different flavours etc…….

Big Thanks  for my friends , kouky ( clic), Naima ( clic) , Naouel ( clic) for kindly  allowing me to use their photos.

NB: My apologies for the photos who appear jumbled and not in the order I put them in my dashboard

Algerian cuisine…..A Pinch Of History

Algeria is the largest country in Africa ( now that Sudan has been devided). in its long and fertile shores in the north , proud mountains in the interrior and endless desert in the south lives a cuisine that blended and fused with all anciant civilasations that enhabited its land.

Berber/Amazigh cuisine :

the berber way of cooking is very present in modern Algerian cuisine with its various dishes and deserts calling mainly for wheat, dates, beans , honey, clarified butter and semoulina……dishes like couscous, chakhchoukha , baghrir, braj, sfenj, mssemens are part and parcel of our celebrations and mornings.
the Berber way of cooking is unique as it combines both slow cooking of meat and vegetables and the steaming of couscous grains and other  handmade Algerian  pasta before combining both and get  scrumptuous and flaffy grains that marvel the gourmet and the hungry alike.

Andalusian influence:
After the fall of granada in 1492, thousands od Andalusian muslims and jews fled the Ibirean peninsula and established large cummunities on the other midetteranean shores but mainly in North Africa for obvious geographical reasons……
Andalusians brought new dimensions to the Algerian cuisine with a rich combinations of sweet and savory flavors, new spices and techniques…..
Tajine lahlou is the ultimate example of the Andalusian influence…….a sweet tajine composed of dry or fresh fruits ( prunes, apricot, raisins, apples, pears , quinces….), meat, spices , butter , honey and orange blossom water and is usually offered to guests as s sweet touch after a row of  savory dishes……it is also    prepared to mark the beggining of the wholy month of Ramadan symbolizing, hence, the hope for a sweet month ……..

Othoman Influence :

the Othoman presence in Algeria lasted for 3 centuries , beginning in 1551 when   khayredine and barberousse brothers  came to help the local population fight the European invasions and took an ubrupt end in 1830 with the french conquest of the country.

During this long period , the Koulughli ( the Turkish/Algerian population) and the eminent cooks of the various beys and deys of Algeria helped install a new urban cuisine that combined fine local ingredients with Turkish- brought recipes.
Nowdays, many Algerian dishes find their roots in the Othoman cuisine…….the ramadan table in Algeria is a typical example of the turkish influence , with its  various dolmas, boureks, turkish halwa, loukoum , mhalbi , baklawa …….to name few….


Ramadan table …..a window to Algerian cuisine :

Algerians truly believe and practice the saying of  » keeping the best for the last  » ……and by the last , I mean the wholly month of ramadan in which people enter a phase of contemplation and complete devotion to the almighty…. ,
during this month , muslims around the world carry  a special attachment to their ancestral cuisine . Algerians are no different.

Algerian ladies prepare a wide range of tajines, mixing and matching all types of meat, vegetables , dried and fresh fruits …..and of course a huge number of sweet delicacies .
if one would really want to discover the true Algerian cuisine ,one should visit an Algerian household during ramadhan where the cuisine goes back to its roots and noble and hidden dishes are cooked and passed down to a new generations ……
chorba, tajine lahlou, various dolmas, mhalbi, kalb elouz , mesfouf……..are among a long list of delicacies that characterize the Algerian table of ramadan……

Pied noire influence:

The year 1830 saw the beginning of the French colonialism of Algeria that would last more than one century and would change the face and the  fate of the country.

In an effort to populate Algeria with more European citizens, French Governement , encouraged   the  massive exodus of new Italian, Spanish and Maltese immigrants who came to Algeria in search  of a better life. The term  » pied noir  » was ,therefore, born  to mean  the black feet that reffered to the  boots of the new  European settlers in contrast with   the sandals  usually worn by the local populations

on the culinary level,  arabic and jewish sephardic cuisine of Algeria started to blend with the spanish, french and italian cooking , giving birth to a true mediterranean kitchen , called  » la cuisine pied noire »

It’s also  during this period that France discovered the couscous and taught it to the rest of the world…..

Algerian modern cuisine is very much influenced by this historical period of the country…..the french baguette became a staple food in Algeria along side the  » kesra » ….the various french pastry such as  the different  pies, mille feuille and choux are shown on daily basis on the window of Algerian bakeries…..

New pied noire appetisers and deserts  were born during this era  like the crepone’ ( lemon sorbet ) « the coca « an algerois finger food filled with grilled pepper tomato and onion and its bonois cousin  » les caldis » that used to be sold by the maltese immigrants….

Despite the departure of the European settlers in 1962 ( the year of the Algerian independance )  Algerian cuisine still caries an impact on the former pied noir people who continue to prepare  couscous , chakchouka and makroud to mark their cultural heritage…….