Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
This week, we’re staying in Africa. Algeria is the largest country in Africa, located in the northwest of the continent. Algeria is known for the Sahara desert, which is the world’s largest hot desert, which dominates most of the southern portion of the country, while its citizens mainly live in the north. The country is named after its capital city, the ancient city of Algiers. Travel is still fairly uncommon in Algeria but it is catching on as an important destination for nomads and history-buffs.
Algeria boasts an interesting cuisine that is an amalgamation of cultural foods and flavours such as French, Arabic, Spanish, and Turkish. The national dish (or national ingredient) of Algeria is couscous. There is no single preparation of couscous designated as the national dish as the grain is enjoyed many, many ways by Algerians. Through my research, one dish that appeared across many lists was Shakshouka (or Chakchouka), a tomato stew with eggs. On lists ranking the top traditional foods of Algeria, Shakshouka was ranked at #1 on this post by Western Union, #1 on this list by Flavorverse, and #7 on this list by TasteAtlas. We served our Shakshouka with couscous and followed this authentic recipe by Ramadan Tips:
Aside from couscous, I had all the ingredients for this recipe on hand. It’s a pretty straightforward, easy recipe overall and we really enjoyed cooking it for breakfast this morning. Couscous is so easy to make– it doesn’t even require a burner. Just add equal parts couscous and boiling water, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add some butter for the perfect consistency.
I’ve seen eggs prepared this way before, but never tried it. After our tomato stew had boiled down, we made three little indentations and cracked the eggs into them. The recipe suggested cooking the eggs for 10 minutes, but we like our eggs runny, so 7-8 probably would have been perfect. It was still super tasty nonetheless.
Our Shakshouka turned out so good. Couscous was the perfect grain pairing because the subtle sweetness complemented the acidity of the tomato stew. There is so much paprika in this dish which I think contributed to how rich the flavor was– I was surprised by the depth of flavour in a dish with very little salt and a lot of fresh vegetables. We will definitely make Shakshouka again and you should try it too!
While we ate, we watched this video: