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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Middle East & North Africa / ~~Traveling Through Tunisia~~
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    ~~Traveling Through Tunisia~~

    Go to page 1, 2  Next Page >>
    Elmotoo
    Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:08 pm
    Forum Host


    ...~ Traveling Through Tunisia with NA/ME ~



    TUNISIA, officially the Republic of Tunisia, is the smallest country in North Africa. It is a Maghreb country bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east.



    The cuisine of Tunisia, is a blend of Mediterranean and desert dwellers' culinary traditions. Its distinctive spicy fieriness comes from neighboring Mediterranean countries and the many civilizations which have ruled the land now known as Tunisia: Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Turkish, French, and the native Berber people. Many of the cooking styles and utensils began to take shape when the ancient tribes were nomads. Nomadic people were limited in their cooking implements by what pots and pans they could carry with them. A tagine, for example, is actually the name for a pot with a conical lid, although today the same word is applied to what is cooked in it. Pork consumption is forbidden in accordance with Sharia, religious laws of Islam.

    Unlike other North African cuisine, Tunisian food is quite spicy. A popular condiment and ingredient which is used extensively in Tunisian cooking, harissa, is a hot red pepper sauce made of red chili peppers and garlic, flavoured with coriander, cumin, olive oil and often tomatoes. There is an old wives' tale that says a husband can judge his wife's affections by the amount of hot peppers she uses when preparing his food. If the food becomes bland then a man may believe that his wife no longer loves him. However when the food is prepared for guests the hot peppers are often toned down to suit the possibly more delicate palate of the visitor. Like harissa or chili peppers, the tomato is also an ingredient integral to the cuisine of Tunisia. Tuna, eggs, olives and various varieties of pasta, cereals, herbs and spices are also ingredients which feature prominently in Tunisian cooking.

    Tabil, pronounced "table" is a word in Tunisian Arabic meaning "seasoning " (similar to 'adobo' in Spanish) and now refers to a particular Tunisian spice mix, although earlier it only meant ground coriander. Paula Wolfert makes the plausible claim that tabil is one of the spice mixes brought to Tunisia by Muslims coming from Andalusia in 1492 after the fall of Granada. Today, tabil, closely associated with the cooking of Tunisia, features garlic, cayenne pepper, caraway seeds and coriander pounded in a mortar, then dried in the sun. It is often used in cooking beef, veal and game.

    Thanks to its long coastline and numerous fishing ports, Tunisia offers an abundant and varied selection of fish. Most diners in Tunisia are also content to have their fish fillet simply fire-grilled and seasoned with olive oil, a lemon squeeze and salt and pepper to taste. Fish can also be baked, fried in olive oil, stuffed, seasoned with cumin (kamoun). Squid, cuttle fish, and octopus are served in hot crispy batter with slices of lemon, in a cooked salad, or stuffed and served with couscous.

    Tunisians also love fire-grilled stuffed vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, squash and turnips. Although Tunisians do consume dairy products such as milk (hlib), buttermilk (lban), yoghurt (yaghurt) and soft cheeses (jban), these dairy products are never used as ingredients in national dishes.

    Tunisia has different regional aspects. Tunisian cuisine varies from north to south, from the coast to the Atlas Mountains, from urban areas to the countryside, and along religious affiliations. For instance, the original inhabitants of Tunis (the Beldiya), do not use harissa much; they prefer milder food, and have also developed their own breads and desserts. Their dominant culinary influences are French and Italian and their diet evolves around beef, turkey and chicken. Closer to the Atlas mountain range, game is favoured. A diet may be composed of quail, pigeons, squads, partridge, rabbits and hare. In the Cap Bon, people enjoy tuna, anchovies, sardines, sea bass and mackerels. On the island of Djerba, where there is a dense Sephardic population, only Kosher foodstuffs are consumed. In Hammammet, snails are enjoyed. Organs are traditionally staples of Tunisian cooking, such as tripe, lamb brains, beef liver and fish heads.

    Couscous, the national dish of Tunisia, can be prepared in many ways, and is considered to be the best couscous of North Africa. It is cooked in a special kind of double boiler called a kiska:s in Arabic or couscoussière in French, resembling a Chinese steamer atop a Mongolian pot. Meats, vegetables and spices are cooked in the lower pot. Cooking steam rises through vents into the container above. It is layered with whole herbs such as bay leaves and covered with a fine-grain couscous. The couscous pasta is therefore cooked with aromatic steam. During the cooking process, the couscous needs to be regularly stirred with a fork to prevent lumping, as risotto is cooked. Preferred meats include lamb (kousksi bil ghalmi) or chicken (kousksi bil djaj) but regional substitutes red snapper, grouper (kousksi bil mannani), sea bass (kousksi bil warqua), hare (kousksi bil arnab) or quail (kousksi bil hjall). Although there are many ways to prepare and compose the dish, a classic recipe would call for the following ingredients: salted butter, bell peppers, shallots, Spanish onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas, chili pepper, harissa, celery, cinnamon, black peppercorn, carrots, turnips and squash. The idea is for the dish to contain many vegetables and a variety of Mediterranean ingredients. The first layer consists of a mound of couscous, then a layer of vegetables follows, and finally the meat is positioned on top. The presentation is finished with a drizzle of sauce and a sprinkle of fresh parsley, basil or mint (for lamb and mutton couscous). Substituting orzo, rice, Israeli couscous or barley for fine-grain couscous is not acceptable. In some regions, a medium-grain couscous is seldom used.

    Typical Tunisian dishes are brik (a fried Malsouka dough stuffed with tuna and an egg), tajin (like a frittata or a quiche), shorba (soups), slata (salads), marqua (stews), rishta (pastas), samsa (a popular pastry), kifta (ground meat), kaak (pastries), gnawiya (gombos), merguez (lamb sausage) and shakshouka (ratatouille).

    Unlike Moroccan tajines, a tajine in Tunisia usually refers to a kind of "quiche", without a crust, made with beaten eggs, grated cheese, meat and various vegetable fillings, and baked like a large cake.

    A popular seafood speciality is the 'poisson complet' or the whole fish. The entire fish, excluding internal organs, is prepared and fire-grilled, but it can also be fried, grilled or sautéed. It is accompanied with potato chips and either mild or spicy tastira. The peppers are grilled with a little tomato, a lot of onion and a little garlic, all of which is finely chopped and served with an egg poached or sunny side up. Finely chopped fresh parsley is sprinkled on top; a drizzle of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt complete the recipe.

    Harissa is often said to be a Tunisian sauce, but it is better described as an ingredient of Tunisian cooking or a seasoning. Harissa is made of red chili, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander, olive oil, and sometimes also caraway or mint. A Tunisian sauce deserving mention: the Kerkennaise sauce, made of capers, olive oil, tomato, scallions, coriander, caraway, cumin, parsley, garlic, white vinegar and paprika.

    Our cookbook this month Traveling Through TUNISIA with NA/ME 10/13 #580467



    ~~HAPPY COOKING!~~


    Last edited by Elmotoo on Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total
    Annacia
    Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:48 am
    Forum Host
    TAGS:

    9/30
    icon_biggrin.gif Annacia - Tunisian Fennel Salad (Besh Besh) #266484 by e eva

    10/1
    icon_biggrin.gif Annacia - Tunisian Potato & Olive Salad #173849 by JanetB-KY
    icon_biggrin.gif Annacia - Tunisian-Style Chicken Thighs #503165 by Mikekey
    Annacia - Tunisian Grilled Prawns #503133 by Baby Kato
    icon_biggrin.gif Rachel - Makhouda D'aubergine (Crustless Tunisian Eggplant Frittata) #422250 by Manami

    10/7
    icon_biggrin.gif elmotoo - Tunisian Style Baked Cauliflower Frittata Recipe #504005 by Ck2plz
    icon_biggrin.gif elmotoo - Mzoura Tunisian Spiced Parsnips #05785 by Dee -
    icon_biggrin.gif elmotoo - Tunisian Mashed Carrot Salad #504362 by AlaskaPam

    10/8
    icon_biggrin.gif Annacia - Tunisian Pasta Salad #428688 by Pesto Lover

    10/26
    icon_biggrin.gif elmotoo - Cauliflower-Stuffed Meatball Ragout in Spicy Tomato Sauce #502794 by Nancy's Pantry
    icon_biggrin.gif elmotoo - Tunisian Beef Stew (Liftiyya) #193920 by MsPia


    Last edited by Annacia on Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:17 pm, edited 7 times in total
    Annacia
    Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:49 am
    Forum Host
    I'll kick off with

    Tunisian Fennel Salad (Besh Besh) #266484 by e eva

    I have fennel in the fridge icon_biggrin.gif
    Annacia
    Mon Sep 30, 2013 5:19 pm
    Forum Host
    Annacia wrote:
    I'll kick off with

    Tunisian Fennel Salad (Besh Besh) #266484 by e eva

    I have fennel in the fridge icon_biggrin.gif


    DONE. Very nice
    Annacia
    Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:53 am
    Forum Host
    It's getting a bit lonely in here, I'll keep myself busy and tag something. icon_lol.gif

    Tagging:
    Tunisian Potato & Olive Salad #173849 by JanetB-KY
    Tunisian-Style Chicken Thighs #503165 by Mikekey
    Tunisian Grilled Prawns #503133 by Baby Kato
    Random Rachel
    Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:29 pm
    Food.com Groupie


    I had some eggplant to use up so I made:
    Makhouda D'aubergine (Crustless Tunisian Eggplant Frittata) #422250 by Manami

    You peel and dice the eggplant, and then salt it and let it sit for 20 minutes before cooking, which I had never heard of before, but the eggplant turned out so tender and really absorbed the surrounding flavors much better than if I had put it straight into the skillet. Love learning random new cooking tips and methods when I try a new recipe icon_biggrin.gif
    Annacia
    Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:26 pm
    Forum Host
    Hi Rachel

    That looks scrumptious. I love eggplant but it's only available for 2-3 weeks in the Spring and I rarely seen to be at the market at the right time.

    I was taught to use the salt and drain method early on. Sometimes I use it and sometimes not. It's a good good way to lose some excess water from the eggplant.

    If there is any leftover you're welcome to send it my way. icon_biggrin.gif

    I'll get this noted for you.
    Annacia
    Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:27 pm
    Forum Host
    I'd like to highly recommend:

    Tunisian-Style Chicken Thighs #503165 by Mikekey

    Super easy and soooooo good!

    I paired it with lemon saffron rice and cumin roasted carrots. Mmmmm- mmmm!
    Elmotoo
    Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:34 pm
    Forum Host
    holy freak what a week & its nowhere near over. i saw a parsnip recipe while assembling the cb that i might make. right now i need sleep because we have a huge fundraisrer tomorrow then work sunday. enjoy the weekend - i'll get here properly asap!

    xo b
    Annacia
    Sat Oct 05, 2013 8:49 am
    Forum Host
    Good Morning Bethie

    You need to take at least a week (maybe a month?) and just make the rest of the world go away. Think of the calm, ahhhhhhhhhh
    Elmotoo
    Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:36 pm
    Forum Host
    Annacia wrote:
    Good Morning Bethie

    You need to take at least a week (maybe a month?) and just make the rest of the world go away. Think of the calm, ahhhhhhhhhh


    Thank you for understanding! Nothing brings chaos to a screeching halt like GI distress, though. So I am home from work today & still just getting to the forums. However, the laundry & dishes are caught up. icon_wink.gif I have a lot of tagging to do so I'm off to be busy!
    Elmotoo
    Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:11 pm
    Forum Host
    OK! In no particular order, I hope to make all of these:

    Tunisian Pumpkin Dip (Ajlouke Et Potiron) #505124 by Mikekey
    Tunisian Style Baked Cauliflower Frittata Recipe #504005 by Ck2plz
    Tunisian Tagine #505596 by AlaskaPam
    Sikbadj #222612 by wizkid
    Tunisian - Ujja Bi'l-Hrus - Eggs With Sweet Peppers #503136 by BK
    Mzoura Tunisian Spiced Parsnips #05785 by Dee - this one I'm making tomorrow because I have the parsnips in the fridge.
    Tunisian Mashed Carrot Salad #504362 by AlaskaPam
    Middle Eastern Semolina and Saffron Bread #507236 by Annacia!

    One thing, though: seems almost all Tunisian recipes have caraway in them. I really DON'T LIKE caraway; it ranks right up there with cilantro. What would be a good sub? Perhaps cumin? If I cumin-ize this many recipes in 1 month, dh is gonna have a hissy fit. Ideas?

    Happy cooking, folkses!
    Beth
    Annacia
    Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:19 pm
    Forum Host
    Elmotoo wrote:
    OK! In no particular order, I hope to make all of these:

    Tunisian Pumpkin Dip (Ajlouke Et Potiron) #505124 by Mikekey
    Tunisian Style Baked Cauliflower Frittata Recipe #504005 by Ck2plz
    Tunisian Tagine #505596 by AlaskaPam
    Sikbadj #222612 by wizkid
    Tunisian - Ujja Bi'l-Hrus - Eggs With Sweet Peppers #503136 by BK
    Mzoura Tunisian Spiced Parsnips #05785 by Dee - this one I'm making tomorrow because I have the parsnips in the fridge.
    Tunisian Mashed Carrot Salad #504362 by AlaskaPam
    Middle Eastern Semolina and Saffron Bread #507236 by Annacia!

    One thing, though: seems almost all Tunisian recipes have caraway in them. I really DON'T LIKE caraway; it ranks right up there with cilantro. What would be a good sub? Perhaps cumin? If I cumin-ize this many recipes in 1 month, dh is gonna have a hissy fit. Ideas?

    Happy cooking, folkses!
    Beth


    How about anise or fennel seed?

    You have some good sounding recipes there. Thank you for trying the bread. icon_biggrin.gif
    Elmotoo
    Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:30 pm
    Forum Host
    I'm not much into baking but that bread is calling me.....

    I Googled caraway substitutions - anise, fennel, dill, celery or cumin seeds can all be used depending on your tastes & what you're making.

    Caraway is the fruit of an herb related to parsley. So, tuck THAT wee tidbit under your hats, ladies! icon_biggrin.gif

    xo Bethie
    Annacia
    Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:41 am
    Forum Host
    Morning All wave.gif

    Pg 1 is current to HERE (thanks Bethie )
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