Algerian Cuisine History

Interested in the history of Algerian food? Want to learn more about the development of food culture in Algeria? Read our guide for more facts & information…

Algerian cuisine has it’s roots in many cultures across North Africa and Western Europe. It is also influenced by the dietary laws of Judaism and Islam. Shellfish, pork and camel meat are considered unclean and do not appear in traditional Algerian cuisine. Vegetable and egg dishes known as shakhshukha, couscous and skewered dishes, known as shishkabab in Western cultures, are from the cultures of the Arabs, Berbers and Turks, while soups, salads and some dessert have a greater European influence.

Cooking Methods

The most frequently used traditional cooking methods are braising and simmering, although frying, boiling and grilling are also used. There are both red and white sauces, although these are usually prepared separately from other foods in the French style. Unlike French cuisine in which the white sauces contain milk or cream, Algerian white sauces use butter as a base. Red sauces use red bell peppers or tomatoes as a base. The sauces may be sweet or spicy and do not contain wine as many French sauces do because observant Muslims are forbidden to ingest alcohol.

Regional Cooking

Algeria is a large nation and different regions have different dishes some of which are unknown in other areas of the country. As in much of the Arab world, couscous is a staple and is prepared in a variety of ways, often steamed with separately cooked vegetables added. Algerian cuisine and its history are little known in Western countries, because many of its regions are remote. Constantine and Tiemcen are considered the major culinary centers of Algerian cuisine and many of their traditional dishes show the influence of the Muslim-Andalus. The port cities of Algiers, Oran, Setif and Bejaia also have excellent cuisine, although it shows more of the French and European influence.

Different Styles in Different Regions

Like Italy, where the style of cooking varies widely between regions, Algerian cuisine’s historical influences have resulted in different ways of preparing, seasoning and serving foods in the various regions of the country. Where some dishes are popular in certain areas, residents of other areas may be unfamiliar with them. There is very little cheese used in Algerian recipes, but French gruyere cheese is very popular in the region.

While there are restaurants in Western Europe and North America that feature Middle Eastern cuisine, few, if any, specialize in the cuisine of Algeria. The only way to really get a taste of traditional Algerian cuisine is to visit the country and travel to different regions. Algerian cuisine history is as colorful as the history of the country and the various influences of cultures across the Middle East and Western Europe are apparent in the traditional recipes of the country.

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