The national Tunisian cuisine is multifaceted. It contains centuries-old traditions that are treasured by the people who keep all the secrets and pass them on from generation to generation.
Mediterranean cuisine influenced by the country’s climate and geographic location, but neighboring regions have also contributed to it.
Features of the national Tunisian cuisine
Oriental dishes of Tunisia provide an opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the country, to feel the mores and customs of local residents. The most important goal for any chef is to feed the guests deliciously and satisfyingly, so every gourmet will be able to find a dish to their liking.
The main ingredients of Tunisian cuisine are:
- meat (lamb, beef, excluding pork);
- gifts of the Mediterranean Sea (tuna, sardine, mackerel, as well as sole, octopus, shrimp);
- legumes, vegetables and fruits grown on the territory of the country;
- seasonings (red and black peppers, cinnamon, ginger, etc.).
Regional preferences of Tunisians are different and depend on the territorial location of a particular settlement. In the south of the country camel meat is widespread in the diet, and mushrooms are in great demand in the northwest. Indigenous Tunisians eat softer food, bake bread and desserts according to their own recipes.
The national Tunisian couscous widely used:
- In El-Jem, it is customary to serve it with a mixture of vegetables – meshui.
- In Sousse, it allowed to add raisins, dried meat and fish fried with beans and vegetables.
- Steamed fish couscous common in Monastir, but it found as an ingredient in lamb dishes.
- Kairouan has its own variety of semolina crumbly biscuits with a savory filling of dates and almonds.
The nuances of cooking and eating food
Tunisians cook with great pleasure and devote the most honorable place to eating. Mediterranean people used to enjoy the taste of original and natural dishes.
Food is always prepared only from fresh products; there are no frozen vegetables and fruits, meat and fish in Tunisia. Locals consume only freshly prepared dishes, do not regret seasonings and spices for them, therefore, a distinctive feature of the national cuisine is a bright and aromatic set of herbs.
Culinary experts cook meat over high heat without adding oil or with a small amount. It is cut into pieces or fried whole to a black crust, which confirms the readiness of the dish. To give a sweetish taste, honey, dried fruits, fruits and nuts are added to it.
The fish delivered to the kitchens in the early morning. It baked whole over high heat with the addition of olive oil and lemon juice. Fish also cooked with tomatoes and oranges.
Meals in Tunisia are held at low tables. Locals do not like snacking on the move or while standing. Men and women eat at the same time, there is no gender separation during meals.
Typical products and traditional dishes
Tunisian cuisine symbolized by seafood, meat and herbs. They consume dairy products raw and do not add them to traditional dishes.
Eggs are common in the Tunisian diet. An omelet prepared for breakfast, but it slightly different from the usual lack of milk. Local yoghurts, cottage cheese and cheeses are less popular, while butter is in demand.
Among the meat in Tunisia, lamb, beef, goat meat and poultry meat are distinguished. The locals do not use pork (this is contrary to their religion and belief), but they cook and serve for their guests. Most often, meat dishes fried on charcoal or grilled, only in rare cases can you find them baked.
The Mediterranean Sea is rich in fish and seafood. Bluefin tuna is a frequent guest on the tables, less common are sultanka, grouper, perch, bream and dorada.
The fish is baked with various spices and garlic with the addition of lemon, orange and tomato.
Of the marine life, squid, crayfish, lobster, oysters, cuttlefish, and shrimp noted. They are quick and easy to prepare, so they are widespread in the country. Shrimp and squid deep-fried or grilled. In Tunisia, seafood pasta is very popular.
It is customary to serve them before the main meal.
They honored by:
- Banataj – deep-fried mashed potato croquettes stuffed with meat.
- Fricassee – donuts with fish, boiled eggs with the addition of harissa, olives and potatoes.
- Macbuba is a salad of stewed tomatoes with green peppers.
- Kadid a sausage made from grated lamb with garlic and salt.
- Kemiya is an appetizer that includes pickles, roasted nuts and various salads.
At local chefs, they most often cooked from mashed vegetables and outwardly resemble mashed potatoes. Tunisians love to eat lababy soup for breakfast. It made from chickpeas with garlic and chunks of stale bread.
Vegetables and fruits
On their lands, residents grow a large amount of vegetables and fruits. The tomato is the country’s main vegetable. But sweet peppers, capers, potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, and chick peas are also widespread.
Date palms are found throughout Tunisia, so their fruit is an essential ingredient in many dishes.
Popular oranges, lemons, figs, olives, quince, grapes, pomegranates, melons, peaches and apricots.
Residents appreciate the pungency and spice of their national cuisine, therefore herbs and spices are their integral component. The main part of the culture of the people harissa, which made from garlic, coriander, black cumin and chili peppers with olive oil and tomato paste. You can also add laurel, turmeric, cloves.
The local spices of Tunisia appreciated all over the world. Among them, mustard, saffron, rose hips, cumin, anise, cubeb pepper, fenugreek play an important role.
The Tunisian people love croissants with various fillings and aromatic buns with sugar syrup and rose water. Culinary experts prepare sweet and mouth-watering rice and milk puddings with honey and nuts. But nothing beats the exquisite hazelnut cream, sweet-filled samsa and date cake.
Every local resident prefers coffee (espresso, cappuccino, Turkish style, with milk), consuming it in large quantities. Among the teas are mint and pine nuts. To quench your thirst, use an egg white milkshake.
Drinking alcohol prohibited in Tunisia, but guests are allowed to indulge in this luxury. Bukha fig vodka, date liqueur and palm juice mash are in great demand in the country.
Tunisians celebrate all Muslim holidays. The most popular are Eid al-Adhu, Eid al-Fitr, Muslim New Year and Ramadan.
In the mornings, locals limit themselves to a light meal. Most often these are dairy desserts. In the evening, they prepare briki, couscous, shorba, and then serve fruits and desserts on the table.
On the holiday of Eid al-Adhu, Tunisians cook a specially slaughtered ram, and Eid al-Fitr is greeted with delicacies and sweets.
Mediterranean people are hospitable. Celebration of weddings lasts up to 7 days, many guests invited to the feast. On the tables you can find a huge number of traditional meat and vegetable dishes, many drinks for every taste and desserts.
Must-haves to try in Tunisia
The national Tunisian cuisine is diverse, so you won’t be able to limit yourself to one specialty dish.
It occupies a leading place among the spicy national sauces. The taste and smell of harissa depends on the composition. It includes chili, cumin, garlic, coriander and salt.
Lemon juice, vegetables, saffron and rose petals can be found as ingredients. And the southern inhabitants dry and smoke pepper. The sauce served with fish, meat, broths, vegetable salads. It found in egg dishes.
A national dish reminiscent of a meat omelet. Finely chopped meat mixed with chickpeas, potatoes or beans and stewed over low heat. Then add spices, cheese, onions and eggs to taste. The resulting mixture placed in a deep ceramic pot and sent to the oven until a crust forms.
This is a deep-fried puff pastry pie with a filling. It can be eggs with tuna, meat, seafood and herbs.
No tourist can imagine the national Tunisian cuisine without the famous couscous. The dish prepared most often from lamb with chickpeas and vegetables, but you can also find it with steamed fish and various seafood. There are over 50 types of couscous.
Grilled hot sausages. They made from lamb or poultry. Locals eat them with vegetables, couscous and harissa.
Spicy stew with meat and vegetables, with chickpeas and harissa. Tunisians eat it with tortillas.
Mutton in Tunisian
Tunisians know how to cook it deliciously.
There are several lamb dishes worth considering:
- couscous with lamb;
- meat in honey sauce;
- lamb kefta with herbs;
- lamb with chickpeas, yams and raisins, sometimes with vegetables;
- lamb roasted on a spit in honey-lemon sauce, stuffed with harissa and vegetables.
There are many types of shorba soup. The most popular of them are spicy tomato with lamb, spicy fish and barley. Vegetarian soup prepared with vegetables and spices with the addition of turmeric, therefore it has an orange color.
This spicy vegetable dish contains peppers, garlic, tomatoes, lemon juice, vegetables and olive oil. Stir used as a side dish or as a salad.
Sweet dessert with a slight sourness. It made from crushed dough, nuts, rose water, lemon juice and sweet syrup. The resulting mass deep-fried.
Tunisia is a tourist country. There are many cafes and restaurants on the streets with a great abundance of national dishes, so no traveler will go hungry.
Popular street foods include:
- shawarma – pieces of meat and vegetables wrapped in pita bread with sauce;
- brik – common Tunisian cheburek;
- leblebi – chickpea beans fried over a fire;
- different types of pizza;
- churros – delicious and sweet-tasting pastries;
- malawi – pancakes wrapped with butter and dusted with sugar.
Street food is common in all countries of the world. Tunisians greet guests with delicious and hearty food.
Some Tunisian recipes are easy to make at home. They do not require any special culinary skills and the ingredients are available in many countries.
Tomato noodle soup
The dish turns out to be lean and tangy in taste.
- vermicelli – 0.5 tbsp .;
- tomatoes – 2 pcs.;
- onions – 1 pc.;
- red pepper – 0.5 tsp
- sugar – 1 tsp .;
- olive oil – 2 tablespoons;
- salt and parsley to taste.
Mix finely chopped onions with olive oil and fry until golden brown. Finely grate the tomatoes and add 100 ml of water.
Send the onion, the resulting tomato juice and noodles to the pan. Add sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer over high heat for about 5 minutes. Then add another 250 ml of water, mix everything thoroughly and cook for about 5 minutes more.
Sprinkle the soup with finely chopped herbs and serve.
As a second course, juicy fish hodgepodge with vegetables well suited.
- fillet of white fish – 800 g;
- onions – 1 pc.;
- tomatoes in their own juice – 4 pcs.;
- garlic – 5 cloves;
- fish broth – 1 tbsp.;
- bell pepper – 1 pc.;
- olives, lemon, cumin and coriander to taste.
Mix ground caraway seeds and coriander. Cut the fish into pieces and cover with the resulting spice mixture.
Fry the chopped onion with crushed garlic in vegetable oil. Add the peeled tomatoes to the pan. Pour the resulting mixture with fish broth.
Top with fish, pepper and lemon cut into strips. Cover with olives and simmer over medium heat until tender.
The dish is slightly sour.
Fragrant rolls are perfect as a dessert.
- semolina – 1 kg;
- pitted dates – 1 kg;
- water – 0.5 tbsp .;
- soda – 0.5 tsp;
- ground cinnamon and orange peel – to taste;
- vegetable oil – for deep fat.
First you need to prepare the dough. Pour well-heated oil into the semolina and add a little warm water. Stir the resulting mass.
Next, start preparing the filling. Combine finely chopped dates with cinnamon and orange peel.
Roll out the soft dough and lay out the filling. Wrap everything in a roll and cut into pieces.
Fry the resulting briquettes in a well-heated pan. For a more sophisticated taste, pour warm honey over the dish. Dessert is ready to serve.