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  ?



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  


Mssemen: click  HERE for the recipie


Sfenj : Algerian doughnut:


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



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 )


 Huzelnut stuffed dry figs

halwa7Jawziya, dates, and mssemens


Caprices ( left) Algerian toffee sweets


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…..



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.


M’rach : orange blossom water splasher


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.


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.


 so, shall I serve you tea or coffee?

THE recette du makroud Algerien Au four / Algerian baked Makroud

Makroud ……or « sultan el maida « , is for North Africa what maamoul is for the Middle- East.

In Algeria , it’s considered  the king of all  pastry , without which, no  gathering, no Eid, no ceremony would be complete….. This semolina , date filled shortbread is often prepared for religious festivals and happy events but can also be appreciated all year long .

Makroud gathers some of the most important crops that grow in the country, the wheat ( semolina) and the orange blossom water from the mountainous northern towns  and the date from the  endless oases  of the south  . The  result  is  a scrumptious , crumbly delicacy that would always make you craving for more.

Makroud in Algerian Arabic dialect means  lozange or diamond shape. During those days , where pastry moulds were limited, diamond shaped cookies were very popular as you won’t need any sophisticated mould except a knife to shape the dough into long cylenders then cut them diagonaly . This is explains the name of the other Algerian cookie, makroud , elouz ,the famous almond sugar coated cookie , that has nothing in common with the classical makroud except for its shape ,

Linguistically speaking,the word makroud has many different spelling and pronounciations, you can say

makroud مقرود ، مقروض,
makrout ( Algiers pronounciation ) مقروط
Makroudh مقروظ( Tunisian pronounciation)
or magroudh ( libyan pronounciation) the arabic quaf ق being not used in libya as in Algeria and Tunisia )

In France where the cookie is widely known and appreciated people have preffered to adopt the
Algerian capital pronouciation, due may be to the important Algeria diaspora in france or just because (the word makrout) is easier on the french tongue compared to the other pronounciations

In terms of Makroud, Algeria is divided into two schools. Half the country ( Eastern region) bakes the makroud , and the other half ( the centre and the west) fries it!!! And each regions claims to have the best version!

likewise , the filling may include  almond paste , a signature of the capital Algiers,  or the most common date paste

Algerians make their date paste ( called ghars غرس in Algerian dialect ) from their local date variety » deglet nour’. The soft date variety is pitted, steamed, then scented with cinnamon , or cloves powder, sometimes sesame seeds , or nuts are added  before being  kneaded with oil or butter.

Because, I come from the the Eastern region, I will share with you my tried and true recipe of baked makroud . It’s slightly different from the classical version as it it calls for soft butter . Iwas so impressed by the result that I wanted to share it with you all



A box of 250g softened butter ( you may also use a paquet , but the box is more practical as you would  need it to weigh the dry ingredients)
125 g oil ( half the box)
1 egg yolk
3 times the weigh of the box filled with semolina
2 times the weigh of the box filled with  flour
a pinch of salt
a pinch of baking powder
1/2 the box of butter -( more or less)
Date paste


Soften the date by microwaving it for few minutes or steaming it in the couscoussier .  let it cool. season with a pinch of cinnamon or clove powder, add some roasted  sesame seeds ( optional) knead with oil or melted butter until very soft. roll into long cylenders. set aside

2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
1 cinammon stick ( optional)
50 ml orange blossom water
2 tbsp of lemon juice ( to avoid the cystalization of sugar )

mix all the above ingredients. except for the blossom water .  simmer above  medium heat up for 15 mn  or so . add in blossom water. you may add in 1 tbsp of bee honey for more authentic flavour.  set aside
1/2 cup roasted sesame seeds ( optional)

in a big bowl, mix the softened butter , oil , then the yolk until well blended,  gradually add in the semolina, salt, and finish with the flour and the baking powder .mix with the tips of your finers  until you get a soft, cumbly mxture.

slowly add the cold water ( to which you may add orange blossom water for more flavour) into the dough.a little  at a time. the dough should be smooth and easy to work with.  cover and let it sit for 1 hour.

while the dough rests, prepare the date filling as it’s exlained above
divide the dough into  4 to 5 equal portions . .  each portion  will be used for a filling

roll each part into a long rope  . pinch the middle with your four fingers to make space for the filling.  place the date cylenders inside the dough cavity. bring the edges togethers. seal .  pinch off any excess dough.

roll the  dough rope  to smoothen it, making sure to keep the  closed edges side underneeth to avoid the cracking of the  makroud while baking.

for extra causion, sprinkle some flour while rolling the dough.

now you can either use the makroud wooden press  to  flaten and decorate it or  cut the the dough cylenders into diamond shaped pieces  and decorate it with a cookie crimper .

Place in a preheated oven at 220°C until  slightly golden brown . It  takes about 12  to 15 minutes.

it’s adviced to let cool before tasting it, by I always like to pop one or two pieces  into  my mouth while its still hot and the date still very soft…mmm yummy!

once completely cooled, keep in air-tight container or  freeze. immerse into honey prior to eating.
syruping the makroud:

heat up the syrup,  reduce the temperature , then  plunge  few makroud , let the syrup  completely cover  all the edges . turn  constantly   , until well coated. remove  from the syrup,   place the makroud on a sieve to  remove the excess syrup.

at the stage, my  whole house would  be scented with honey , and orange blossom water  which  bring  back  to  sweet memories of by gone childhood life…. 😥  😥
decorate with roasted sesame seeds.
serve with arabic coffee or North African mint green tea. and Enjoyyyyyyyyy!

Version Francaise 

Le  makroud est considere’ en Algerie comme le pere de tous les gateaux traditionnels, sans lequel, aucune fete , ni ceremonie ne peut avoir  lieu  sans sa presence sur la table ,

il ya deux facons de le preparer , soit cuit au four comme le fait  toute la region de l’Est, soit frit comme c’est pratique’ dans  les regions du centre et de l’ouest.
les recettes des  deux  versions ne sont pas interchangeables car le makroud  au four a besoin de plus de matiere grasse que le  frit, sans compter que chaque version , a ses petites astuces de cuisson et ses propores difficultes,  resultat  dur , ou craquele’ pour la version ou four, ou bien effritement dans l’huile pour la  frite…

comme je suis de l’Est Algerien, je prepare souvent la version au four, meme si j’adore aussi le makroud frit

Aujourdh’ui, j’aimerais partager avec vous, une nouvelle recette, de makroud au four….tres differente de la version classique ( a savoire 3 mesures de semoule, 1 mesure de matiere grasse)
une recette que j’ai trouve’ sur un forum Algerien de langue arabe, qui m’a vite conquise et interpele’ ,  de part ses ingredients  ( beurre mou + jaune d’oeuf + melange de farine et de semoule..) et ausi l’eloge que lui fait sa propritaire …
je l’ai essaye’ pour vous et je ne vous dis pas comment  j’en suis satisfaite!  j’ai  eu un makroud, tres fondant, en bouche, une pate merveilleuse  , pas du tout compacte et qui absorbe le miel plus que la recette classique.
si vous pensez a preparer du makroud pour ce aid…. je vous conseille vivement d’essayer cette recette…. vous m’en direz des nouvelles. de ma part, je pense l’adopter et l’essayer egalement pour le braj , le moment venu!

avant de donner la recette, je voudrais attirer l’attention vers l’importance de  la pate de datte dans la reussite d’un bon makroud…. des fois, on tombe sur des makroud dont la pate a semoule est tres fondante mais la  pate de datte tres dure… ce qui signifie  qu’elle n’a pas ete’ bien petrie et n’as pas eu sa part de matiere grasse.

en effet, la pate de date appellee’ ghars en Algerie est une pate sucree’ naturellement , qui pour etre bien tendre et souple, a besoin d’etre petrie  avec suffisemment de matiere grasse ( huile ou bien beurre).  vous pouve agrementer son gout avec une pincee’ de cannelle, une poignee’ de sesame grilles ou meme des noix concasses mais le plus imporrtant c’est de l’assouplir avec de l’huile.
si vous ne trouvez pas de pate de date du commerce, vous pouvez la preparer vous meme en choisissant  des dates molles, les denoyauter, les passer quelques minutes a la vapeur ou bien au  micronde, puis les petrir avec huile ou beurre.


 ( Attention, puristes s’abstenir   ):

le secret de cette recette reside dans  le beurre mou et l’eau froide

1) une boite de beurre de 250g  ( la boite sera utiliseee’ comme mesure )

2) 125g d’huile ( demi mesure / demie boite de beurre )

3)  3 boites  de beurre  de semoule ( 3 mesures de semoule)

4)   2 boites de farine ( deux mesures )
5)    une pincee’ de sel
6)   une pincee’ de levure
7)    un jaune d’oeuf

8)     1/2 boite d’eau froide , a laquelle vous pouvez ajouter de la fleur d’oranger si vous aimez  -( une demie mesure)

verser le beurre ramolli dans une grande jatte, remplissez la demie boite d’huile, bien melanger avec un bateur electrique, ajouter le jaune, et continuer a bien battre,  remplisser  trois fois la boite de beurre  de semoule, ajouter le sel, bien battre et finir avec la farine et la pincee’ de levure. vous obtiendrez un melange mou et blanchatre.  commencer alors a ajouter progressivement l’eau froide jusqu’a l’obtention d’une pate souple pouvant etre  modele’.  couvrir et laisser reposer une heure.


Entre temps, preparer la pate de datte comme c’est explique’ plus haut. former des batons. laisser de cote’.


: en Algerie, on a   un miel industriel special gateaux traditionnels.  si vous n’en trouvez pas vous pouvez le  preparer vous meme  :
2 mesures de sucre ( 2 grands verres )
1 mesure d’eau
50ml de fleur d’oranger
2 cas de jus de citron ( important pour eviter la crystalisation du sucre )
mettre le tout a cuire sauf la fleur d’oranger.  au bout de 15 mn environ, eteindre, ajouter la fleur d’oranger. laisser de cote’
reprendre la pate, prendre une boule de pate, l’allonger , avec vos quatre doight, faire une cavite’, tout au long du boudin. y deposer le baton de  datte . bien souder. enlever le surplus de pates si vous voulez. rouler legerement le boudin de facon a garder la fermeture  en dessus pour eviter que les makrouds ne s’ouvrent   durant la cuison. pour cela, vous pouvez paresemer le boudin de farine qui va aider a souder les eventuels  craquements .  si vous utilisez l’empreinte a makroud, posez la sur le dessus, presser legerement pour laisser paraitre le dessin, presser de cote’ pour regulariser la forme du makroud. couper en losanges et deposer dans un plat allant four.
a defaut de l’empreinte ,  couper le boudin en losanges egales. utiliser la pince a gateaux, pour decorer le desus du makroud.
faire cuire dans un four moyennement chaud, pendant  15 a 20 m  selon la capicite’ de votre  four. le makroud doit etre a peine dore;.
laisser refroidir avant de deguster et plonger dans le miel.
Enrobage dans   le sirop:
Contrairement au makroud au four, on n’enrobe de miel que la quantite’ qu’on veut deguster et on garde le reste  dans une boite hermetique.
vous pouvez le manger nature si vous aimez…. pour l’enrober de miel. il suffit de rechauffer votre miel  , plonger les makroud , diminuer le feu, et laisser les pendant une dizaine de minutes tout en continuant  a  tourner le makroud sur toutes les faces. egoutter puis parseumer de greins de sesame

deguster avec un cafe’ turc ou bien un the’ a la menthe

Algerian Mkhabez

Algiers…the capital, prides it self in being the origin of great range of almond based cookies , that combine the sun soaked north african nuts and fruits with the french inspired royal icing…

Made from a homemade ground almonds paste, a hint of lemon zest, topped with bright royal icing and decorated with a range of different designs……….mkhabez can be  considered an iconic example of this culinary combination.

A classical , old- fashoned mkhabez would have a triangular shape , covered with white, blue or pink royal icing and decorated with a small drage’.  Nowdays, mkhabez , like the rest of Algerian cookies have adopted a whole new sophisticated look ….and every year, a dozen of books are being published in Algeria ,offering new decorative designs that are very hard to beat.

I like to make mkhabez for Eid , not only because I’m an almond lover who can’t resist the yummy taste  of these treats but also because they are very easy to make.

The hardest part is to wait for the icing to dry…… There are dozens of royal icing recipes out there, and every Algerian cookie- maker has her favourite….. The difficult part for the newbies  is the absence of icing sugar weight in Algerian recipes and  the relial on  » your eye is your balance  » policy…..

the icing recipe that I’m happy with is taken from one of meme Benberim books. as it yields a big quantity of icing, I always cut it unto half.

the traditional mkhabez  recipe calls for 3 measures of ground almonds and 1 measure of fine sugar. I like to use half measure of sugar to make a balance with royal icing wich is already very sweet.


 Ingredients :

3 cups of fine ground almond

1/2 cup of fine sugar

vanille zest of lemon

1 knob of unsalted butter at room temperature

1 or 2 whites depending on their size


Combine fine ground almond with sugar , add vanilla, zest , butter. gradually add the egg white until you form a nice dough (  not dry nor sticky) . if you feel it’s too dry, add another white , one spoon full at a time ( beat egg white with a fork so you can use it easily ) if the dough sticks to your hand, you can add one or two tbsp of ground almond.

lightly cover your working surface with corn startch ( i prefer rolling the dough on a cling film ) roll your almond dough into 1&1/2 to 2 cm thick. deep the cookie cutter of your choice into cornstarch and cut your almond dough into any shape you fancy.

arrange the cookies on a tray covered with parchement sheet. bake for 10 to 15 mn . the cookie should look pale and uncooked when taken from the oven. leave completely to cool and dry .

you can prepare the cookies days ahead and freeze them before icing them.

ICING  ( I halved the ingredients  )

250ml of water

62gr sugar

1 egg white

1tbsp of orange blossom water

1 tbsp lemon juice

flavor and coulour of your choice

enough icing sugar to get a royal icing (about 700-800g for me)


In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, orange blossom water and lemon juice, cook for few minutes under low heat . leave to cool, incorporate the egg white then gradually add the sifted icing sugar until you get the desired consistancy ( neither runny nor stiff) add flavour and colouring of your choice.

dip the cookies in the icing ,remove and arrange on a tray or rack . when it’s half dried, decorate with marzipan flowes or almond halves.

I decorated mine with sugar flower and ready made marzipan , shaped  into bunches of grapes, thanks to this silicone  mould , kindly offred by my dear friend Kouky when I payed her a visit in 2010.


Pour ceux et celles qui suivent  la blogosphere Maghrebine et Algerienne en particulier, les mkhabez n’ont plus besoin d’introduction!ces petits fours typiquement Algerois composes de pate d’amande maison et garni de glacage royal sont une petite merveille qui explosent en bouche grace toutes ces saveurs apportees par le gout des amandes fraichement moulues, les accents acidules du zeste de citron et le croquant du glacage.

vous trouvez des centaines de recettes sur le net avec tellement de decorations qu’on sait plus ou donner la tete .

Voici  ma recette personnelle , tissee’ au fil des annees suites a mes propres  essais et erreurs…

Dans ma version,  je prefere mettre une demie mesure de sucre au lieu d’une,  comme dans toutes les recettes qui necessitent un  glacage notemment dans le mkhabaz qui, est directement glace’ et non pas envelope’ de pate pouvant casser  le cote’ sucre’  comme c’est le cas des arayechs ou couronnes glacees.


3 mesures de poudre d’amande ( 3 tasses americaines )

1/2mesure de sucre (1/2 tasse)

le zeste d’un demi  citron ,  vanille

une noisette de beurre ramolli ( non sale’ svp)

1 ou 2 de blanc d’oeufs pour ramasser la pate (legerement battus a la fourchette pour pouvoir les ajouter par petite quantite’).

NB:    le beurre et le blanc d’oeuf ( a l’oppose’ de l’oeuf entier ) apportent du moelleux a la pate d’amande.


saupoudrer le plan de travail de maizena ( ou bien  etaler la pate sur un papier film ) etaler la pate sur une epaisseur assez epaisse . couper a l’emporte piece.

j’ai donne’ aux miens, la forme carree’ et goute que j’ai decore’ avec des grappes de raisin a la pate d’amande, pourr reproduire le mkhabez d’atomne de kouky , a qui je dis, joyeux anniversaire !

les disposer sur  une tole beurree’ et farinee’ ou mieux encore chemisee’ de papier sulfurise’.,prechauffer le four a 160 degres . faire secher  pendand 10 a 15 mn selon les fours  . les biscuits  doivent sortir pales et moux  au toucher car ils vont par la suite  secher au contact de l’air libre . si vous les laissez trop longtemps au four, ils risquent de devenir tres durs.  laisser refroidir completement avant de glacer.

vous pouve les cuire quelques jours a l’avance , les congeler et les glacer le moment voulu . noter qu’il faut les consommer le lendemain du glacage et non pas le jour meme.

GLACAGE: ( selon une recette de Mme Benberim …. celebre patissiere Algerienne)

. ces ingredients donnent une grande quantite’ de glacage. pensez a diviser les quantites au besoin )

250ml d’eau

62gr de sucre

1 blanc d’oeuf

une cas de fleur d’oranger

1cas de jus de citron

parfum et colorant au choix

assez de sucre glace pour avoir un glacage onctueux ( environ 700-800gr pour moi )


dans une casserole, mettre a cuire l’eau ,le sucre , ajouter la fleur d’oranger et le jus de citron. retirer la casserole au bout de 1o mn  laisser refroidir , ajouter le blanc d’oeuf , et incoporer le sucre glace tamise’ , en petites quantites jusqu’a l’obtention d’une pate consistante. ajouter le parfum et le colorant de votre choix.

tremper les gateaux refroidis dans le glacage et retirer aussitot. decorer avec des fleurs en pate d’amande quand le glacage est semi sec. servir le lendemain .

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