Cuisine of Algeria

A blend of ancient civilisations

Algeria cuisine

Algerian cuisine is influenced by a blend of ancient civilisations that inhabited its land, from the ancient Phoenicians throughout to the Arabs and Ottomans to the French colonial era, all these civilizations have left a great influence on Algeria food and cuisine.
The berber way of cooking is very present in modern Algerian cuisine with its various dishes and deserts made mainly from 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.
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 begining of the wholy month of Ramadan symbolizing, hence, the hope for a sweet month ……..
Alegria was part of Othoman Empire for than three centuries , began in 1516 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 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….

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. French Government, 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 referred to the boots of the new European settlers in contrast with the sandals usually worn by the local populations on the cooking 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. During this time, the French also discovered the couscous dish adopted that their cuisine and became well known dish by many nations across the globe.
Algerian modern cuisine is very much influenced by this historical period of the country, ….the various french pastry such as the different pies, mille feuille and choux are shown on daily basis on the window of Algerian bakeries.
Despite the departure of the European settlers in 1962 ( the year of the Algerian independence ) Algerian cuisine still carries an impact on the former pied noir people who continue to prepare, the french baguette became a staple food in Algeria alongside the » kesra » 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….couscous , chakchouka and makroud , to mark their cultural heritage.