Algerian Food: Top Algerian Dishes w/ Recipes
Algeria is a North-African country with a fascinating history, diverse culture and a rich cuisine. The nation was a part of the Ottoman Empire for over 300 years, and its influence on the food is unmistakable. It was colonized by France for 132 years, so you’ll also detect French influences in the food, while traditional Berber and Arabic foods also play a significant role in the food culture of this incredible land.
What’s unique about Algerian cuisine? It’s especially renowned for its mix of Saharan food and seafood, as well as some luscious desserts and dry cakes.
Algeria is also famous for its ‘special occasion’ dishes only prepared for celebrations and holidays. For instance, when there’s a “Chourba,” “Chekhchoukha,” and Baklawa will be on the table as part of a sumptuous feast.
Let’s explore the top 25 foods in Algeria that you’ll fall in love with.
Chekhchoukha is one of the tastiest foods in Algeria, so don’t be put off by the hard-to-pronounce name. This delicious stew is made from torn pieces of a thin flatbread (rougag, or marqa) with lamb, tomatoes, chickpeas, onions, and spices, including cumin, ras el hanout, caraway, galangal, lavender, and red chili peppers.
Originating from the eastern cities of Constantine and Biskra, you’ll find that each place has its own preparation method. It will be prepared in a clay casserole in some areas, whereas other cities prefer an iron casserole. The difference between the two lies in both the taste and thickness of Chekhchoukha. Both are delicious, though.
2. Baklawa (Baklava)
Baklawa is an Ottoman-influenced dessert that Algerians prepare for festive occasions. This delectable pastry is made up of almonds, filled with chopped walnuts and natural honey.
Now, although Baklawa is an irresistible treat that foreigners fall in love with, try to limit how many you try! Since each small square of baklawa is loaded with calories, you might eat ten if you try the first one, and your waistline won’t thank you!
You’re probably familiar with couscous. It’s Algeria’s most popular staple food and is prepared each Friday and at funerals. Couscous is also called “Taam,” “Seksou,” “Berboucha,” and “Naama,” depending on the city you’re visiting in the country.
It is made from durum wheat semolina, barley, or white corn and prepared by steaming in a perforated bowl over a pan of water.
Famous in Msila and other regions, Zviti is a very spicy dish prepared using green pepper, cooked with dough, then cut with a wooden masher, and typically served in a wooden bowl. In some cities, sliced tomatoes, coriander, green olives, and sometimes garlic are used.
Doubara, a hearty vegan stew, is a traditional winter dish. It is typically prepared in one of three ways: with fava beans, chickpeas, or a mixture of both. The chickpeas and beans are soaked in water for an entire night before preparation.
Traditionally, no salt is added to the stew. Instead, it is seasoned with harissa, a hot chili paste that’s characteristic of Algerian and other North African cuisines. Ras el hanout can also be used. This popular spice mix combines ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and ginger so is somewhat milder than harissa, while still giving a touch of warmth to any dish…
Every year, Algerians like all Muslims celebrate Eid al Adha where they sacrifice sheep; goats, or cows as offerings.
With that, Algerians prepare an Usban. The sausage casing is made from the intestines of cows, lambs, or camels which are stuffed with vegetables such potatoes, eggplant, or even fish and sometimes couscous. Delicious!
In common with Muslims worldwide, Ramadan is a month when Algerians fast from sunrise to sunset. After half a day without eating, Algerian tables are adorned with Zlabia in the evenings. This luscious oriental sweet is famous across the Arab world, but Algerians prepare in a unique style.
The city of Boufariq (40 Km west of Algiers) is reputed to make the best Zlabia in Algeria. So, during Ramadan, don’t be surprised if you see long queues of Algerians patiently waiting under the hot sun, waiting to buy their beloved dessert.
Mhajab is a stuffed flaky pancake that Algerians eat almost daily. It’s typically filled with onions and tomatoes. Mhajab is prepared with layers of square dough and folded several times before being fried in oil.
According to legend, the name originates from its inventor – a reclusive woman named Mahjouba who, although she never left the house, would cook it and send her children to market to sell it.
Al-Shetitha is a traditional Algerian dish typically made with lamb and vegetables. This slow-cooked dish tenderizes the meat in a tomato-based sauce seasoned with cumin, coriander, and paprika.
Vegetables can vary but often include potatoes, carrots, and onions. In some cities, they add beans to the shetitha. It is typically served with bread or couscous.
Berkoukes is a type of pasta that resembles a large-grained couscous. It is also known as Al Aiche, Al Mardoud, Moghrabieh, Mhamsa, or Berkoukech.
Berkoukes soup is made with the pasta, plus vegetables, and red meat or poultry. Some recipes call for salted, dried meat. Alternatively, this dish can also be transformed into a vegetarian meal by omitting the meat. It is a wonderful dish for the cold weather, especially when warmed up with traditional spices.
Rechta is a traditional Algerian dish comprising thin, flat noodles and chicken sauce. The noodles are made with flour, salt, and water, and the sauce is made with chicken pieces, onions, garlic, oil, chickpeas, ras el hanout, cinnamon, turnips, potatoes, and zucchini.
Once cooked, the noodles are placed into a large dish and topped with the sauce (marga). Rechta is especially popular during weddings, Eid al Fitr, and Ashura celebrations. Don’t miss the opportunity to try it!
Makrout is an iconic Algerian semolina cookie, typically enjoyed on special occasions. Although you’ll find it spelled in different ways, in Arabic the word makrout means ‘diamond shaped’.
The cookies are drenched in a luscious syrup made of lemon sugar, vanilla, and water. The fragrance is unforgettable and they’re very moreish!
13. Almonds Triangles
Almond triangles are yet another popular Algerian dessert. They are made from a thick, buttery dough, stuffed with chopped boiled almonds and soaked in blossom water. They’re an essential delight at every wedding feast.
14. Swabaa Zainab
Wabaa Zainab (Zinab’s Fingers) is a delicious Algerian sweet. It is made of semolina, flour, sugar, and butter, and, although it is typically baked in an oven, you may also find fried versions – when the oil is diluted with sugar syrup.
You can eat this wonderfully calorie-laden Algerian sweet any time. It is also one of the most iconic Ramadan treats and features in many celebrations and holidays.
Djouzia or Jawzia, is a typical Algerian nougat that’s based on walnuts, and flavored with vanilla and honey. It’s one of the most expensive sweet treats you’ll find in the country since it’s made with only the very best honey and nuts.
According to legend, it was first prepared by the chef of the Ottoman ruler of Constantine, Ahmed Salah Bey. Algerians and international travelers visit Constantine to get a taste of the “secret ingredient” only found in the djouzia made in that city. What is it? You’ll have to visit to find out!
16. El-Jari (Chorba)
El-Jari or Chorba freek is a soup that is widely prepared in Ramadan all over the country. It is made from chopped meat, chopped tomatoes, garlic, hot pepper and water. This warming soup is especially popular in Northern Algeria and it’s diet-friendly as well as nutritious.
Temina, also known as “Bsisa”, is a popular, porridge-like dessert all over the country. Algerians prepare temina by roasting semolina which is then added to couscous and some flour, and left to boil for 10 minutes. It’s served for breakfast which typically also includes milk and bread.
Mesfouf is another popular dish similar to the couscous and chekhchoukha that is widely prepared for weddings and also funerals. It consists of finely rolled semolina, olive oil, and butter.
Tcherek, Kaab el Ghazal, or Cornes de Gazalle, (in English, Gazelle’s Horns) is a traditional Algerian pastry from the city of Algiers. Its origins date back to the time of the el Bey Pacha Algiers.
These little heavenly bites are stuffed with sweet almonds, scented with orange blossom and shaped into horns or crescents – which were the symbol of the Ottoman Empire.
20. El- Makhtouma
El-Makhtouma is a popular Saharan pie from the south of the country. It’s a type of bread that originated in Ouargla, Tamenrast, Bechar, and Gherdaia and is prepared on Fridays throughout the country.
It’s crafted from dough, minced carrots, onions, sheep’s fat, and spices.
21. Brik (Bourak)
You’ll most often find Brik or Bourak prepared during Ramadan as a starter or snack, and they’re often served alongside soup (chorba).
These tasty bites are made with phyllo pastry stuffed with an irresistible combo of meat, cheese, vegetables, and spices. However, you’ll find national and regional variations across north Africa and the Balkans. Our advice – try them all!
Tagine is a delicious stew. The name refers to the terracotta dish in which it is made. Although found all across North Africa, the tagine is of Berber origin and experts say you’ll still find the tastiest tagine in Berber areas.
Tajine Zitoune is a version that’s especially popular during Ramadan. It is made with kefta (seasoned minced beef, lamb, fish, or chicken meatballs), potatoes, mushrooms, and white sauce flavored with cinnamon and thickened with olives. However, there are endless variations and lamb or chicken are popular choices for tajine.
Delicious homemade bread is a beautiful accompaniment to any tajine as it helps to mop up every last drop of this traditional stew that is packed with so much warmth and flavor.
Mtewem is a traditional Algerian dish, and more exactly, from the capital city of Algiers. The dish is made from meatballs, pieces of chicken or lamb, garlic, chickpeas and almonds.
The sauce, which can be red or white, is always prepared with grated onion and a ton of garlic – in fact, the word mtewem means “with garlic”. It is usually cooked in a tajine pot.
24. Algerian Thwart
Yes, it has the weird name of thwart but this is a popular dish, not only in Algeria, but also Palestine, Morocco, and Syria. The Algerian version of thwart consists of a mouthwatering combination of eggplant, onion, garlic cloves, and tomatoes – so a bonus is that it’s suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
25. El-Kadi w Jmaatou (The Judge and His Group)
El-Kadi w Jmaatou is a dish with roots deep in Algerian history. The name means “the judge and his group” in English. This noble dish contains both chicken and eggs and is often prepared in honor of something or someone, it was often served to welcome groups of nobles. These days, it is more typically offered to loved ones and important visitors as a sign of hospitality and welcome.
Have I included all your most-loved Algerian dishes? Leave your feedback below, along with any suggestions you have for our community to try. We’d love to hear your ideas!