Ongolo Proud African

Tunisia Culinary Experience: Savour Top Dishes

5 May 2024

The Tunisian food scene is coming to life, and now is your chance to eat your way through this delicious North African fare. Here, eating seasonally is the way to go with a great variety of produce on offer. Fly away from your blues to find fennel, oranges and artichokes piled high in Tunisian markets.

These are some of the dishes and dips that you absolutely cannot miss when on your adventures. Some offer spice, others comfort, but all shine a little light on a cuisine that is bold in flavour. You will find that there is a strong Italian influence here, where pasta and pizza are on most menus. Given how close to the coast many towns are, the seafood is divine.

I learnt all about the ins and outs of Tunisian food with the wonderful Sawa Taste Tours. Seeking out the most passionate producers and off the beaten track experiences, you are guaranteed a delicious culinary adventure to satiate your appetite and curiosity. 

Harissa

Harissa is the UNESCO protected foundation of Tunisian cuisine. Chilli, garlic, and olive oil pounded together to create a rough paste that is served as a dip for bread, with olive oil and added to many dishes. 

The best thing is that it will be possible to find a harissa that suits you - smoky, with herbs, perhaps with ginger. It is guaranteed to bring some flavour to your favourite dishes. 

Chillies waiting to become harissa. Photo Credit: Rachel Hobley

Brik

Brik is an artform. Thin sheets of pastry folded around tasty fillings such as tuna, herbs, potato and, sometimes, an egg. The test of a great brik maker is their ability to deep fry their brik without bursting the yolk. It is either shaped as a triangle or a rectangle, and can be a quick eat on its own or form part of a larger meal. Most places will serve brik, but during Ramadan many home cooks will find the time to make this delicious treat at home.

You will find this combination of fillings in another delicious quick eat that needs a shout out - fricassee. Confusingly, this is not the classic French stew, but a fried sandwich often eaten as a lunch on the go. 

Fresh brik with lemon to squeeze over. Photo credit: Rachel Hobley

Floral waters

Not so much a dish as a flavour that you will find appearing on a regular occasion, especially in sweet treats. The distillation of floral waters is a big part of Tunisian culture. In Nabeul, for example, whole family gatherings will occur during the distillation of orange blossom water. Other waters that you might find include rose, geranium and mint. Each has their medicinal purpose as well, try some hot water with a cap full of orange blossom water to help you get to sleep.

Learning about floral waters with Sawa Taste Tours. Photo credit: Rachel Hobbled

With Sawa Taste Tours you’ll be able to meet distillers in their homes to learn about how they distil and  what it means to their families.

Floral water in process. Photo credit: Rachel Hobley

Cous cous

There is a whole world of cous cous waiting for you in Tunisia. What it is served with will depend on where you are in the country. By the coast, you can expect fish, perhaps a few different types, where beef or lamb might be more common in land. 

The cous cous itself is steamed on top of the vegetables in a pot that shares the same name - kus kus. This way, every grain of cous cous is aromatically cooked to perfection. The meat or fish is then balanced on top with in season vegetables. 

Cous cous being prepared during our lesson at Dar Slah. Photo credit: Rachel Hobley

Bambaloni

This is a sweet treat found in the iconic Tunisian seaside town of Sidi Bou Said. Fresh dough shaped into a circle is dropped into hot oil, making it puff up to become a warm ring. Then it is up to you  - you can either choose sugar or chocolate sauce to cover your bambaloni, which will then be wrapped in greased proof paper. 

Walking in the streets of Sidi Bou Said you will inevitably be drawn to the smell of the bambaloni makers. Long queues will meet you, locals and tourists alike. Find the nearest vantage point to be mesmerised by the azure sea below whilst you make the most of your warm, sugary treat.

Fresh bambalouni in Sidi Bou Said. Photo credit: Rachel Hobley

The chance to travel and learn with Sawa Taste of Tunisia is a real must when in the country. They have set itineraries, or you can organise a custom visit! I would recommend the 7 day experience, during which you’ll be able to experience not only the culinary highlights of the country, but some of the most important culture sites as well. Starting in the Cap Bon and ending in Tunis you’ll get to head from kitchens through the olive groves to the suqs of this stunning country.

If you would like to learn more about Sawa Taste Tours, you can visit their website - https://sawataste.com/eng/

Rachel Hobley writes regularly as The Flavour Narratives on Substack - https://theflavournarratives.substack.com/

SHARE 

Comments

chevron-down