Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Algeria

(Originally posted here.)

No last minute runs to Whole Foods this time.  Hah!  I win!

Algeria

Gained independence from France in 1962.
Borders the Mediterranean Sea.
11th biggest country for land area, second largest in Africa.
Only 3.17% of their land is arable and .28% is permanent crops.
34.5 million in population.
99% Sunni Muslim
There are 90,000 refugees from Western Sahara in Algeria.
Cuisine: Fusion of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences.
National Dish: Couscous

Sources: CIA Factbook and Algeria.com

I was really hoping that my international cookbook would have a recipe for Algeria, since it has "Northern Africa" as an area for recipes.  Nothing there, though.  I'll let you know how the cookbook works when I can use it.

Instead, I decided that wanted to make something with couscous since that was the Algerian national dish.  So I started looking.  I ran into some of the same problems as last time: I would find the exact same recipe, with the same misspellings, on multiple websites.  In the end, I decided to combine two recipes.  Crazy, isn't it?

This was the recipe I found multiple places, so it has to be authentic, right?
Algerian Chicken Couscous

But I liked the sound of this couscous better.  The other one was just plain, where this one had extra flavor:
http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-chicken-couscous

Aunt Bonnie, thank you for your help, but I had already picked this out by the time you sent your research.

I wasn't sure whether they would work together, but I thought it was worth a try.  Hopefully I am not ruining the national dish of Algeria or anything.

Kevin and I went shopping to the commisary to get the food.  There are benefits to marrying a man in the Navy.  :-)  Not a lot of couscous choices, though...

This dish called for a lot of produce, which certainly makes for a lot of color.
The yellow pepper was not harmed in the making of this dish.
It was also cool because the dish called for a turnip, which I have never worked with before.  I had to look up how to chop it.  Other things I have become a pro at, however.
Best way to cut an onion for sure.
Our red pepper had a green one growing inside!
I have become really good at chopping garlic too.  One, because it is my favorite seasoning.  Two, because I have a garlic press.  I highly recommend them.  Thank you Patrick Michael Truskowski for the Christmas gift from last year.  :-)
Peel the cloves...
...put them in the press...
...and viola!
I did most of this prep work ahead of time, which is good, because there was a lot of chopping involved.  It meant I didn't have to worry about other things simultaneously.
They may have chosen the veggies in this recipe based on color...
Now for this week's edition of "what was Kevin doing?"
Can't you tell?
He is simultaneously playing with the cat and watching the Broncos game.  Multitalented?  Yes, this also means we got a kitten.  His name is Tesla!
Too cute for his own good.
Anyway, back to the cooking.  Next step: spices!  There was cumin in this, which I like. It always reminds me of Indian food.  The spices combined smelled really good.
Fun with colors.
In Grenada, one of the spices we got was nutmeg.  But not traditional...we got whole nutmegs.  I got/had to shave it myself.  It ended in me wearing a bandaid for a while...

Hopefully no blood around?
Time to start putting stuff together and making the kitchen smell AMAZING.
Cinnamon and garlic make onions much better.

Celery is green!
Once more with chicken.
What about the couscous?  Well, there was a small problem.  How was I supposed to measure that amount of raisins?  I don't have a scale.  This Kevin had an epiphany.  "That's about the size of one shot glass!"  So that's what we did.
No really, we did.
Thanks for the shot glass, Laura!
With just the right amount of raisins!
Table set, complete with wine and Christmas place settings.
It soaked up some of the liquid as it set.

This meal looked and smelled amazing as we set the table.  And you know what?  Unlike last week, we weren't disappointed!  There was a lot of flavor and it was a nice one pot meal.  There was a bit too much cinnamon, probably because I combined two recipes which both had cinnamon in them.  Also, I would recommend cutting the zucchini smaller...it is too easy to eat around it this way.  And finally, don't have it with a flavorful wine...way too much.

Overall however, it was very good.  It made good leftovers too.  The chicken was very tender and you certainly couldn't say that it was bland.

Now on leftovers...

Obviously, most of this food makes a large number of servings.  We would like people to come eat this stuff with us.  If anyone is ever in the DC area and would like to partake in our culinary journey around the world, let me know.  We would love to have you.  I just need to know sufficiently ahead of time to start planning...

One more picture to leave you with...
Tesla in a beer box!
Last time - > Albania
Up next - > Andorra

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