This month MENA Cooking Club is traveling to Tunisia. Our host was the lovely Asma from Halal Home Cooking, who is always there when I need her. Thank you Asma! As always, we had three dishes to choose from and at first I had planned on making the famous dessert kabber ellouz. I thought it seemed easy and would taste great, so I bought some ground almonds from the store and began my recipe. I found two different ones online and opted for the one where you cooked the sugar and water together, there’s nothing I hate more than having to bite through pieces of sugar, so melting it was a good idea in my head. I do that for coffee, tea and lemonade anyway.
The recipe I was following said to do this on the stove and after just a few minutes my sugar was at the hard boil stage and I was trying to salvage what I could by adding it to the almond flour, I have no idea why I did that. I should have just started the sugar method over because by the time I did that I had some thick soup like mix, yuck. So the next day I had my husband bring me home some more almond flour. This time I opted off cooking the sugar on the stove just added boiling water over the sugar and then carefully mixed in the almond flour. It seemed to mix well, but was a little too sticky, how was I going to handle or shape it? And then I added the dye, which is traditional and just looking at the blob of almond, sugar and dye turned my stomach. I tried rolling it and it just wasn’t working. I think the recipe I was trying to use was just a flop, there’s no way that’s what they used.
So after that I was mad about all the food I wasted and times I tried and just wrote off the dessert recipe and moved on to the soup. It seemed fairly easy, right? Again, I had my husband bring me home a jar of chickpeas. I like to search as much as I can about a recipe and luckily YouTube had several videos from Tunisia of people making it and immediately knew what they were making. Although I didn’t know the name this is something we eat and love every Ramadan at a restaurant that we go to. Basically, it’s a thick chickpea soup cooked in chicken broth and you add what you want on top, like foul a little bit. You can add the harissa paste, chopped onions, tomatoes, egg, tuna and chopped bread, which are the favorites among Tunisians themselves.
In Tunisia they take crusty bread and cut it into cubes and mix into the finished soup before they eat, I actually like to serve it on the side, because I prefer mine not to be soggy, I like the texture personally. They also eat a raw egg cracked right on top and tuna crumbled from the can. My husband thought that would be great, I passed this time, but maybe next time I will try the traditional way.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1-2 teaspoons harissa paste
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable for vegetarian)
1 (400 gram) glass jar of chickpeas, drained and washed
1 small tomato, diced
1. In a saucepan on medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cumin and coriander.
2. Stir in the harissa, then add the stock and chickpeas and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan, then cook for about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes or until tomatoes have just softened.
Yields: 2 servings