When visiting a foreign country, nothing gives you a truer flavour of another land than by sampling their authentic cuisine, and when it comes to unique flavour combinations and unusual recipes, Tunisia has more than its fair share of interesting dining options. Retaining a distinctive blend of both African and Mediterranean cuisines, traditional Tunisian foods are spicy and fresh, and worth travelling for. When you tour Tunisia you might want to try…
One of the staple foods of northern Africa, cous cous is a popular grain that features in many Tunisian dishes. Whereas it is often boiled in other countries around the world, the Tunisian’s prefer theirs steamed, and they use a traditional pot known as a kiska – not unlike a Chinese style bamboo steamer – with the meat and vegetables cooking in the lower sections, and the grains steaming in the top from the vents in the pot. A popular meat-free meal is made with aromatic cous cous, chickpeas and vegetables. A sweetened version known as masfouf is commonly served during the festival of Ramadan.
This popular breakfast dish was thought to have originated in the Ottoman Empire, and looks somewhat similar to a traditional fried breakfast. It consists of eggs that are poached in a sauce made of onions, tomatoes, chilli’s and cumin, and is often accompanied by bread for dipping or mopping up the sauce with. It is customarily cooked in a cast iron flat pan, and is served in the same way.
Brik is a traditional Tunisian pastry made from malsouka dough stuffed with tuna and an egg and then fried. It resembles an Indian samosa in size and texture, and is often cooked as a snack. Alternative fillings include all varieties of meat, red snapper, vegetables and occasionally, a spicy sausage called merguez. It’s the sort of food you’ll find roadside vendors offering for sale – real Tunisian street food.
The Tunisian’s have a bit of a sweet tooth, but you won’t find chocolate fudge cakes or doughnuts on their restaurant menus. Instead, they favour pastry desserts like samsa, intricately layered sheets of thin filo-style pastry, filled with roasted sesame seeds and almonds and baked in rosewater and lemon juice.