Algerian Food Recipes Library | OfRecipes
As a country, Algeria holds a rich history stained in blood. From being an integral part of the Roman Empire to a French colony, the mostly Muslim country’s path to freedom has not been an easy one. There’s some controversy regarding the National language of Arabic in Algeria–while many find it quite suitable, there are many groups that would rather continue to speak the Berber languages. This is side-effect of the various cultures that have taken over Algeria since its origins, and language isn’t the only aspect of life that has been impacted by this. Their roots in Rome, domination by the Ottoman Empire and French take-over has brought a unique, diverse culture to Algeria, and continues to do so in various ways–including the Algerian food recipes.
Food in Algeria dates back thousands of years ago, and the biggest influence on Algerian food customs today are the previous groups and cultures that have inhabited the country. For instance, it was the Berber Tribesman–whose presence was marked there thousands of years ago–that introduced Smen (a fermented, aged butter) into the cuisine and later used semolina wheat to make what is now Algeria’s National dish: couscous. The Berber weren’t the only ones to make a difference though. The Roman Empire used the Algerian territory to grow many of the empire’s grain, and even today Algeria lists extremely high as an international grain importer.
Algerian food can be a wide range–while some dishes are flavor-packed and reminiscent of the Arab take-over that brought along spices–other dishes are more subtle and feel familiar of the French. When the French took over in the 1800’s, their rule was not one that included much cultural diffusion, and the concept was to have French culture dominate Algeria. Even today as the Algerians have been independent for several decades, many of these French customs still remain. One particular tradition is to include a French loaf with each meal as the bread is dipped, scooped and soaked in the main entree. This is just one aspect of French tradition, but like many countries, an Algerian town square usually will have some sort of restaurant or two dedicated to French food for those who prefer it.
The huge Islamic following in the country often impacts diet as well–especially during Ramadan. At the end of the month-long, fasting tradition, the Algerian people cook a huge feast. The content of such an event can vary geographically–Northern Algerians may eat seafood as it is more accessible, while Southern Algerians consume beef and lamb.
The general Algerian mealtime customs hold some interest as well. Three meals each day are prepared by the women of the household, and when the family gathers to eat at the table, only three fingers on the right hand are used to eat. Using more fingers or even the entire hand would be a sign of disrespect, just as eating with the left hand would appear dirty or uncivilized.
Overall, Algeria’s cuisine is rooted in their blend of different cultures. From the original Berber Tribesmen who introduced what are now Algerian food recipe staples to the recent French whose traditions still remain, Algeria’s cooking holds a distinct, individual flavor.