Tag Archives: algeria

World Cooking – Algeria

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Algeria
Progress: 79/193

There has been a sizeable gap on my cooking map in the region of North West Africa. For a while I have been thinking that Morocco would be right around the corner, so have just been plugging other geographic holes – but now that I am coming back this challenge, I figured why not plug it with Algeria. After all, this is the largest country in Africa by land area and is right on the Mediterranean so should have some interesting food.

Much luck neighbouring countries Tunisia, Morocco and Libya, Algeria’s history with food has a long and storied history from Ancient Carthage to the present day via the Romans, Islamic traders and the encroachment of European colonialism. This is the area of the Arab world where couscous is the side dish of choice and comes under the general name of Maghreb, or Barbary as I have seen it more often in me (admittedly white) text books.

There is such a wide choice available here that I was fearing treading on the toes of future foods for Morocco and Tunisia. However, I also wanted to steer clear of anything that had a hint of French influence, because I am going to have to rely on that for other African nations where the choice isn’t as expansive. In the end, I settled on two recipes that were united by an ingredient that I had never used before: orange blossom water. By the end of the afternoon my kitchen smelt like a perfume counter, but at least the food tasted good.

Main: Lahm Lhalou

I liked the idea of making a dish recommended by a group of local Algerian expats living in London. Just having that cross over made me really leap for this recipe by the British Algerian Association which was my first foray into cooking with orange blossom water. Man, that stuff is strong. I expected it to have a strong orange smell, but then I had to properly think of the name – like rosewater, this stuff smells like the flowers and it is that floral essence that you are adding to the dish.

This stew boasts tender and well-spiced lamb with a gravy where the prunes have disintegrated just enough to thicken it and to give a fruity taste. Despite all the fruit and the additional sugar, I was surprised that this was not overly sweet. I guess it is the orange blossom water’s floral notes and the earthiness from the turmeric and cinnamon that help to keep it in check. With some couscous on the side, this is something that I definitely would want to make again.

Dessert: Griouech

Okay, so I didn’t make the extremely complex looking knots that were demonstrated in the recipe by 196 Flavors, but I still wanted to make something that was a bit beyond simple squares or using a cookie cutter. This is how I ended up with these little bows, and with half of them falling apart after cooking because I made the middle of the knot a bit too narrow. Still though, not bad for a first try.

Both the dough and the syrup contain some of the orange blossom water but, unlike my fears, it really doesn’t reign supreme. Instead it’s a great complement to the honey and sesame. These really are the types of biscuit where you need to wait for the syrup to sink in as they cool down in order to properly enjoy them. When I first tried them fresh I was a bit underwhelmed, but after a few hours they became really good. Also allowed me to find an excuse to buy and use a pasta machine, which made me very happy.

Whilst it does take up a fair bit of time to find recipes and the actually cook them – I sure am glad to be getting back into the swing of this particular list. Next time I am going to be making something from Europe that was inspired by a tone deaf food review that a friend of mine sent me a month ago. Imagine talking about a restaurant’s food as being good enough to have prevented a genocide within many of our living memories.

Around The World in 100 Films – Start Point

List Item: Watch films from 100 different nations
Progress: 22/100

Time for me to open up the second of my three film bucket list items with a rather arbitrary goal of seeing films from 100 different nations. Unlike the Oscar list item this is something that can be permanently crossed off unless I suddenly get the urge to add another batch of countries to keep this going.

Now, I have decided to count countries as long as I watched the film after I put this onto my bucket list which was (yes I made a note) on August 5th 2013. This means that some countries (e.g. Finland, South Africa, China and Israel) are not on the list yet despite me having seen them in the past. I figured using this cut off point would serve as a way to make this more challenging whilst also keeping Burkina Faso (still stoked about that one).

Whilst I was preparing this list I saw there were 21 countries on the list and instantly envisioned doing a really cool triangle number diagram as you can see below:WorldCinemaTriangleNotice the problem? Well in making that list I had forgotten that I saw a Polish film at the end of January which means poor Hungary (my most recent nation) has to lay on the outskirts since I decided to do this in order of seeing them. My inner math-geek is not impressed with this. It was later pointed out to me that a film I thought was Australian was from New Zealand, now my inner flag-geek is unhappy too.

Still 22 countries down, 78 to go. Not a bad place to start with, although there are not many of the big film nations left which will make this interesting.

Any film suggestions for yet unwatched countries will be VERY much appreciated. Bear in mind re-watches are not allowed here so films like Tsotsi, Drifting Clouds and Waltz With Bashir will not count.

  1. Germany – Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)
  2. U.S.A. – Robocop
  3. Netherlands – De Vierde Man(The Fourth Man)
  4. Czech Republic – Kolja (Kolya)
  5. Italy – La Strada
  6. Burkina Faso – Sarraounia
  7. Argentina – El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes)
  8. Japan – Zatoichi Monogatari (The Story of Zatoichi)
  9. Brazil  – Cidade De Deus (City of God)
  10. Denmark – Melancholia
  11. United Kingdom – Blowup
  12. Norway – Flåklypa Grand Prix (Pinchcliffe Grand Prix)
  13. France – La règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game)
  14. New Zealand – The Piano
  15. Poland – Popiól i diament (Ashes and Diamonds)
  16. Spain – El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive)
  17. Sweden – Viskningar och Rop (Cries and Whispers)
  18. Belgium – Ernest & Célestine
  19. Greece – Kynodontas (Dogtooth)
  20. Canada – The Sweet Hereafter
  21. Algeria – Z
  22. Hungary – A torinói ló(The Turin Horse)