Monday Meal Review: Algeria

Algerian menu and recipes

A Timeless Algerian feast

“Great.”

My husband smiled.

“I think dinner was really great.”

Our friends quickly nodded in agreement.

Basic words. But their warmth was balsam after a hectic day cooking. I might as well have won an Oscar.

We sipped our Ceylon tea with fresh mint sprigs, savoring the memory of the meal we just enjoyed. Although we were going on four hours of sitting around the dining room table, no one made a move to get up. If that’s not indication of an enjoyable meal, I don’t know what is. (The spell finally broke when baby Ava woke up for her midnight feast).

Algerian Meal

Aside from the company, our Algerian meal was a big hit for two simple reasons: big flavor and originality. Our favorite dishes were (by a mile) the chickpea Soup and the Hot Algerian Lasagna. I will be making both of these dishes again.

The Algerian Recipes:

Algerian Chickpea Soup | Hummus bi’l Kammun  [Recipe]

Algerian Chickpea Soup | Hummus bi'l Kammun

What do I like most about this dish?

This soup was smoky, earthy, and downright craveable. I cannot say enough good things about this soup. If you love chickpeas, you need to try Hummus bi’l Kammun.

What do I like least about this dish?

There is none left for me to eat.

Hot Algerian Lasagna [Recipe]

Hot Algerian Lasagna

What do I like most about this dish?

This was my riff on a traditional Algerian dish – individual components are very Algerian (including the pasta), however assembling them into stacked lasagna is not traditional. While none of us ever had cayenne, chickpeas, lamb, or potatoes in lasagna, we immediately fell in love. These big flavors melded under an irresistibly gooey layer of Gruyere cheese. I cannot express how good this lasagna was; you’ll just have to try it yourself. You won’t regret it.

What do I like least about this dish?

The lasagna is very filling. Which means I cannot eat the entire casserole myself. This is rather unfortunate.

Algerian Sunset Salad [Recipe]

Algerian Sunset Salad

What did I like most about this dish?

This salad is really more of a relish. The cool, crunchy fennel provides a nice contrast to the spicy lasagna.

What did I like least about this dish?

Blood oranges, fresh fennel, black olives, and mint forms an unusual flavor combination. I like it best when the olives are used sparingly.

Algerian Spiced Green Beans [Recipe]

Algerian Spiced Green Beans

What did I like most about this dish?

The green beans are quick and easy to make. The hit of cumin and clove makes for a flavorful dish; slivered almonds add crunch (I didn’t get a picture of them on the green beans).

What did I like least about this dish?

The clove came through too strong in this recipe – I did adjust the recipe to fix this.

French Bread | Baguette [Recipe]

Homemade Baguette | French Bread

Homemade Baguette | French Bread

What did I like most about this dish?

The bread recipe, from King Arthur Flour’s blog, is perfect. Don’t mess with success. Update: I’ve since messed with success. You can try my homemade baguette recipe here.

What did I like least about this dish?

I wish I could magically have crusty baguettes in 30 minutes. I can dream, can’t I?

 Sweet Couscous with Dried Fruit | Bil Zbib [Recipe]

Bil Zbib Sweet Couscous

What did I like most about this dish?

Another quick and easy dish combining the natural sweetness of dried apricots, raisins, and prunes with couscous. A hint of cinnamon, butter, and powdered sugar make an addicting combination for breakfast or dessert. Bonus: Sweet couscous can be on the table in 15 minutes.

What did I like least about this dish?

The couscous dries out if made ahead of time; to help with this, keep the dessert covered until serving.

Llokume | Turkish Delight [Recipe]

Turkish Delight | Llokume

What did I like most about this dish?

When I was a little girl reading The Chronicles of Narnia, I thought Turkish Delight was warm fried meats in a sweet and sour sauce. I was really disappointed when I found out they were candies. I never thought I would get over the shock. HOWEVER, now that I have perfected the recipe, I dig Llokume. The orange extract and rose water make for an alluring dessert, not to mention a beautiful display. A great housewarming gift.

What did I like least about this dish?

Nothing really. But my hips beg to differ.

Ava’s Corner

Ava and mom

We sat down to dinner after Ava went to bed so she did not sample the food until the next day. We thought the best choice was to give her some of the green beans, as they had the mildest flavor. Even still they were pretty loaded with clove powder, so I rinsed them off a little. She chewed them up and looked for more! Success 🙂

5 Comments

  1. Michelle says

    YUMMY! Great food, great friends, great conversation. I really did try to save a sample of Llokume for my co-worker. However, I was not successful 🙁 But I know who can teach me to make it

  2. Joanne says

    Yes, the cloves were a problem in my Algerian dish too. They added a bitterness. We salvaged the dish by fishing through to remove the whole cloves before we stored the leftovers.

Leave a Reply