13 Delightful Tunisian Foods & Dishes You Need to Try!

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - The traditional Tunisian dinner includes vegetable salad and couscous with chicken, Sousse, Tunisia. - Image

Whether you’re heading to Tunisia or throwing a Tunisian-themed dinner party, be prepared to fall in love with Tunisian food! Here are the best Tunisian foods you need to try at home or in Tunisia!

Can’t read now? Pin for later!

13 Delightful Tunisian Foods & Dishes You Need to Try!

The Best Tunisian Food

Our favorites, in no particular order…

Couscous

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - couscous meal with green pepper and meat in a traditional Arabic plate

A staple of North African and Tunisian cuisine,  you simply can’t claim to be familiar with Tunisian food if you haven’t had one (or twenty) tagines filled to the brim with couscous! It is the country’s national dish after all.

A dish originated by the Berbers who still inhabit southern Tunisia, but you can easily find this popular dish available around the world now.

Couscous is made from semolina wheat that is rolled into the extremely tiny pieces. 

Traditional Tunisian couscous is typically served with chicken, fish, beef, or lamb, plus there are usually vegetables and peppers mixed in. 

Ojja (Shakshuka)

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - healthy breakfast shakshuka - fried eggs, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, chili and spices in iron pan with kitchen towel, parsley on white wooden planks, authentic recipe, view from above

This delicious tomato and egg dish is a popular Tunisian breakfast. While it’s eaten across North Africa, it’s believed to have been created in either Tunisia or Yemen. The name comes from the Tunisian Arabic slang for “mixture.”

The tomato sauce is flavored with garlic, chili peppers, and spices, and the eggs are poached. 

You will typically find it served in either a skillet or in a tagine. 

Brik

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - Brik, egg and tuna turnover. Tunisian food

A hand-me-down from Ottoman times, the Brik in Tunisia is a thin pastry wrapped around egg filling and fried. This dish has survived in other parts of the former Ottoman Empire in the form of bourek (in Algeria) and as burek (in the Balkans), though the egg version is the most specifically Tunisian variety.

Other potential fillings in Tunisia include tuna, chicken, anchovies, capers, and cheese.

This is a great breakfast, though it can be eaten at any time of day. It’s also a great Tunisian street food if you happen to be traveling in the country.

Merguez

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - Grilled sausages, merguez in a frying pan, with olives, baguette and spices, top view

You might have been introduced to Merguez as French cuisine, but it’s actually Tunisian and was brought to France during the era when Tunisia was under French occupation.

Merguez is a spicy sausage that’s made from mutton or beef (or a mixture of both). You can eat it straight off the grill or in a sandwich or Ojja.

The reddish color comes from the Harissa spice, but the sausage also includes cumin, sumac, fennel, and garlic.

Chorba (Shorba)

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - Shrimp Chorba

Chorba is a staple of Tunisian Ramadan meals, though you can find this delicious soup available year-round. You will typically find it made with lamb or beef, but there are also popular fish varieties (especially on the coast).

Spiced with Harissa and made from Bulgar wheat, the base of the soup is stewed tomatos. In a word, yum!

While the dish is important to Tunisian culture, it’s popular all over the area formerly controlled by the Ottoman Empire, from Morocco all the way to Bulgaria and Croatia!

Poulet Meshi

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - Poulet Mehshi - Tunisian chicken roast

While many of the tagine dishes you’ll encounter in Tunisia use couscous, this delicious roast chicken is served, instead, on a bed of chickpeas and onions and seasoned with a healthy portion of lemon juice.

Maghrebi Mint Tea

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - Traditional Tunisian tea with pine nuts and mint. Selective focus.

Tea in Tunisia is made on a charcoal stove, called a kenoot. The mint helps keep the tea from tasting bitter, as does the copious amounts of sugar Tunisians love to add. The tea itself can be either green or red tea, either are traditional.

In the evenings, the tea is upgraded a notch or two with the addition of nuts. These can be pinenuts, almonds, or even peanuts, among other options.

Delget Nour Dates

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - Authentic Tunisian Deglet Nour dried dates with soft honey-like taste in copper buckets

First grown in Algeria, Delget Nour are considered the queen of dates. Popular throughout Northern Africa, you really can’t go without trying one while in Tunisia!

Though if you can’t make it to the country, you’ll find these delicious bites available globally since they are exported from Algeria and Tunisia (as well as being grown in the United State).

Lablabi (Lablebi)

Tunisa - Tunisian Food - Lablabi or Lablebi a traditional Tunisian dish based on chick peas. Typical arabic street food in Tunisia

This Tunisian chickpea soup is flavored with garlic and cumin and served with perfectly stale bread to make this dish both scrumptious and filling.

You’ll find it garnished with eggs, parsley, and even scallions.

This is a great dish for enjoying the Tunisian winters, which, while still warm compared to much of the northern hemisphere, can get chilly (especially out in the desert).

Tunisian Pastries

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - Traditional Tunisian pastries/ Tunisian pastries

Tunisian pastries have been influenced by the powers that controlled Tunisia over the centuries. You’ll find varieties of baklava from the Ottoman Empire. Make sure to try the Tunisian almond baklava. You’ll also find pastries with French influence.

Make sure to try bambalouni, yoyos, kaak warka, and zgougou. Tunisian cuisine is blessed with many amazing pastries to sample!

Tunisian Olives

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - Tunisia - Tunisian Food - Tunisian Olives

Like the rest of the Mediterranean, Tunisia is famous for its locally produced olives. You’ll find them in a variety of Tunisian dishes, pressed into luscious olive oil, and their trees made into beautiful wooden gifts and souvenirs.

Harissa

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - Healthy spicy, creamy vegetarian appetizer or snack with roasted red pepper dip with harissa, pita and olives close-up on wooden background.Traditional homemade Tunisia and Arabic cuisine adjika harissa

Harissa is a North African spice blend that’s essential for making Tunisian food. You can find it as a premade spice blend, you can make your own, or you can use it as a Harissa paste.

Made from red chilies, make sure you know what you’re doing! It packs a ton of heat into every bite.

Masfouf (Mesfouf)

Tunisia - Tunisian Food - Traditional Tunisian sweet dish -Masfouf: sweet couscous with dried fruits and nuts

Another important dish served during Ramadan masfouf is a sweet dish made from couscous, butter, and sugar and then adorned with pomegranates, dates, or even dried grapes.

5 Things Every Tunisian Chef has in the Kitchen

Tunisia - Sidi Bou Said - Plates and Tangines for Sale

Traditional Harissa – If you can’t get it in Tunisia to bring home with you, you can pick it up at home! You can buy the Harissa Spice or pick up this Harissa paste version from Trader Joe’s is the next best thing.

A Tagine – to prepare the delicious couscous meals right in your own kitchen! This beautiful Le Creuset version is basically a dream.

Tunisian Olive Wood Dishes and Utensils – I particularly love this beautiful Tunisian serving spoon.

Traditional Tunisian Recipes – Okay, so if you’re not Tunisian you probably don’t have access to the mental Rolodex of recipes local chefs do. But you can still cook amazing Tunisian dishes with the right Tunisian cookbook

Tunisian Ceramics – If you’ve been to Tunisia, you’ve seen the sumptuous local ceramics for sale. If you want to enjoy these dishes but you’re already home, you can find dinnerware sets and individual serving dishes available online.

Pin this Guide to the Best Tunisian Food for Your Kitchen!

13 Delightful Tunisian Foods & Dishes You Need to Try!

How to Make the Perfect Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

If there’s one dish that’s become synonymous with Nigerian cuisine, it’s Jollof Rice, a dish that elevates simple long grain rice into a complex, full-flavored out-of-body rice experience. 

Can’t read now? Pin for later!

The Origins of Jollof Rice

While Nigerians lay claim to it, it’s believed the dish was actually created by the Senegalese, with nearly all West African cultures having their own versions. 

The name probably (though not definitely) comes from the historic Jolof Empire which ruled in the area that is now Senegal and The Gambia in the middle ages. However, the dish itself is believed to have been created by Penda Mbaye in Senegal in the 19th century.

From there, the rice dish became popular, with traders taking the dish home with them, and then putting their own spins on the dish as time went on. 

Jollof Wars

While none is considered the official version, there’s at least one Jollof Rice recipe that’s considered a sin. So stay away from Jamie Oliver’s unless you want to offend the entire western portion of the continent!

We have added our own twist to traditional Jollof rice by adding garlic, celery, and green beans, but feel free to leave those out if you want to stay as close to traditional Nigerian Jollof Rice as possible. We like the extra vegetables both for the extra vitamins and the added texture! 

Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe - Cutting Bell Peppers

Celebrate World Jollof Day!

Starting in 2015, August 22nd has been celebrated around the world as World Jollof Day. So make sure to make a batch this year to mark this special occasion!

So What is Jollof Rice?

Jollof Rice is made with long-grained rice (typically parboiled but we have a few other options listed below). A base of tomatoes, onions, and peppers gives it its delicious flavors, enhanced with a special Jollof spice blend.

You can serve it spicy (which is more traditional), but if you are sensitive to spice you can tone it down to mild.

Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe - Jollof Seasoning

You can add meat or fish, fried plantains, extra veggies, etc. to enhance the dish. Different parts of West Africa use different additions. We’ve kept ours straightforward except with the extra veggies mentioned above. 

Perfect for Carnivores, Vegetarians,  and Vegans!

Versatile and packed with veggies, our recipe calls for chicken stock, but an easy substitution for a vegetable stock will make this dish fabulously vegan.

What You’ll Need to Make Jollof Rice

Here’s everything you need to make Nigerian Jollof Rice at home:

Basic Equipment List

You don’t need fancy equipment to make Jollof Rice at home! You’ll want a large pot with a lid because the delicious flavors come from letting the vegetables and spices simmer together on the stovetop before adding the rice. 

For preparing your vegetables, you’ll want a good knife and cutting board.

For the tomatoes, we used a typical boxed grater. 

Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

Simple Ingredients List

2 tomatoes

1 large white onion

1 bell pepper (we prefer yellow but red is more traditional and green will do in a pinch. A Scotch Bonnet pepper is more traditional (and spicier). We don’t have them available here in our local stores. If you use a Scotch Bonnet, check its spice level. You may want to add less chili powder to your seasoning if it’s spicy).

1 cup frozen or canned green beans (drain if using canned)

1 celery stick 

2 cloves of garlic

2.5 cups of chicken stock (can substitute chicken bouillon cube and two cups of water. To make Vegetarian/Vegan substitute vegetable stock or a vegetable bouillon cube and two cups of water. While you would traditionally use two bouillon cubes for that much liquid, that’s a LOT of salt, so start with one and add more if needed).

2 cups dry long-grain rice. (We personally prefer jasmine or basmati rice, but parboiled rice is more traditional. All three ways are delicious). 

1.5 tbsp. of tomato paste (this is for color, so you can skip it if you don’t keep tomato paste on-hand).

.25 cups of vegetable oil (palm oil is more traditional but we’re staying away from palm oil for environmental reasons).

2 bay leaves

2 tsp sugar

1.5 tsp paprika

1.5 tsp curry powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder (This makes it just spicy enough in my opinion, but you may want to subtract half a teaspoon if you’re very spice-sensitive. You can add more after the rice is done if you want more heat). 

.5 tsp black pepper

.25 tsp thyme

You Can Make Jollof Spice Ahead of Time

If you want to make Jollof spice ahead of time (or use a store-bought version), then don’t include the spices when you cook. Use the Jollof seasoning instead. 

Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe - Preparing the Jollof Seasoning

What to Eat with Nigerian Jollof Rice? Our Serving Suggestions

For this version, Valentine whipped up a pumpkin puree that balanced the spiciness. He also makes a yam puree that does the same trick. (Recipes for both coming soon)!

Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

Sometimes we make this version on its own, but sometimes we serve it with chicken or fish. Topping with fried plantains is traditional in parts of West Africa (though not Nigeria and they’re not that easy to come by everywhere).

You could also serve it with hard-boiled eggs or fried tofu. 

Yield: 8 servings

Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

A traditional West African spicy one-pot rice dish that can be a side-dish or main course. Gluten-free with easy substitutes to make vegetarian or vegan!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes, grated
  • 1 Large White Onion, diced
  • 1 Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1 cup frozen or canned green beans
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2.5 cups of chicken stock (see above for substitutions​)
  • 2 cups dry long-grain rice
  • 1.5 tbsp. of tomato paste (optional)
  • .25 cups of vegetable oil
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1.5 tsp Paprika
  • 1.5 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • .5 tsp Black Pepper
  • .25 tsp Thyme

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil on high heat.
  2. Mix in onions, peppers, garlic, and celery. Reduce heat to medium. Stir occasionally. If you see all the oil soaked up, you can add a bit more. Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe - Vegetables Cooking in Pot
  3. After about five minutes, check to see if the vegetables are soft. Add the grated tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, and chicken stock (or your preferred stock subsitute). Stir together. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil.Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe - Adding the tomatoes
  4. Once the pot is boiling, add the rice and green beans. Cover and bring back to boiling.
  5. Once the pot is boiling again, reduce heat to medium. Leave for ten minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks or burns. If the rice is sticking, add more water or stock.Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe - Make sure the Jollof Rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan
  6. Switch off heat and let it sit for ten minutes before serving.Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

Notes

1. I've noted several substitution options in the Simple Ingredients List towards the top of the article. Not every ingredient is available world-wide, and you may also want to make substitutions to make the dish more traditionally or to make it vegetarian or vegan.

2. This is a dish that will get more complex in flavor over time, so feel free to make a few hours ahead.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 272 Total Fat: 7.6g Saturated Fat: 1.5g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 544mg Carbohydrates: 44.8g Fiber: 2.6g Sugar: 4.2g Protein: 4.6g

Pin this Best Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe for Your Kitchen

How to Make the Perfect Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

 

How to Make the Perfect Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

 

 

How to Make Your Own Simple Chakalaka Spice Blend

Spice Blend

While you can find pre-made chakalaka spice blends for sale, that’s not how you’ll find most chakalaka relishes seasoned in South Africa or Zimbabwe. Instead, these will be seasoned on the spot, with the chef making sure the chakalaka seasoning is just right.

For our chakalaka recipe, we included the spices as part of the ingredients. However, you can easily make the perfect chakalaka spice blend ahead of time and store it so you always have some ready to go.

Can’t read now? Pin for later!

Make Chakalaka Spice Blend

Why Should You Make Your Own Chakalaka Spice?

When you make your own, not only will you save money, but you’ll also save time when you’re ready to make your next batch. This spice blend can also be used to enhance the flavor of baked beans or stews, so it’s more versatile than just in its namesake dish!

How Much Chakalaka Seasoning Should You Make Ahead of Time?

This recipe will make enough for four batches of our chakalaka, but you’ll probably use smaller amounts when including it in other dishes so it may last you more than four total dishes.

If you find yourself running out quickly, feel free to double or triple this recipe to make more ahead of time. 

How to Store Your Chakalaka Seasoning

Obviously, it depends on how much you want to make to keep on hand. I like simple spice jars like these, but just make sure yours is airtight and store it on a shelf out of direct sunlight. 

South African Food - Pouring in the Chakalaka Seasoning

What You’ll Need to Make Chakalaka Spice

Here’s what you’ll need to make chakalaka spice at home:

Basic Equipment List

We use small mixing bowls and transfer the finished spices into an airtight spice jar.

Simple Ingredients List

1.5 ounces of curry powder

4 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. ginger spice

South African Food - Chakalaka and Rice

Yield: 2 ounces

Chakalaka Spice Blend

A delicious spice blend to use in Chakalaka salads and relishes, or to use to flavor soups, beans, and other savory meals.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces of curry powder
  • 4 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. ginger spice

Instructions

  1. In a small mixing bowl or directly in your spice jar, combine the curry powder, paprika, and ginger spice. Stir or shake until mixed thoroughly.
  2. Store in an airtight spice jar or container for up to one year.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 8 Total Fat: .3g Saturated Fat: .1g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 1mg Carbohydrates: 1.5g Fiber: .8g Sugar: .1g Protein: .3g
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Pin this Chakalaka Recipe for Your Kitchen!

Make Chakalaka Spice Blend

How to Make the Perfect Spicy Chakalaka

South African Food - Chakalaka and Rice

Chakalaka is savory, sweet, and spicy all at once, making it the perfect dish to serve whenever you want something simple to make but complex in flavor. It can go with almost anything, and you can throw almost any vegetable into it, so every chakalaka recipe is a bit different.

Can’t read now? Pin for later!

How to Make Perfect Spicy South African Chakalaka

The Origins of Chakalaka

The dish most likely originated from Mozambique workers living in Johannesburg, but you’ll now find it is made all over southern Africa, especially in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

South African Food - Pouring in the Chakalaka Seasoning

So What is Chakalaka?

Some people think of it as chakalaka salad or as a relish, but we think it’s just plain yummy! Below we list some ideas for how to serve it and what to pair it with, but we always start with a few big spoonfuls right out of the pot. 

This is one of the first Zimbabwean dishes that Valentine showed me, and it’s easily my favorite one to make on my own! The biggest difference between my chakalaka and his is that I’m not very skilled with a knife, whereas his knife cuts are just gorgeous.

The good news is that following his recipe is easy and it tastes just as good, even if my julienne cuts are a bit raggedy and my onion dices aren’t uniform. 

South African Food - Pouring in the Chakalaka Seasoning

What You’ll Need to Make Chakalaka

Here’s what you’ll need to make chakalaka at home:

Basic Equipment List

You don’t need fancy equipment to make chakalaka at home! You’ll want a large pot with a lid because the delicious flavors come from letting the vegetables and spices simmer together on the stovetop. 

For preparing your vegetables, you’ll want a good knife and cutting board.

For the carrots, we use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layer and then grate the carrots with a typical boxed grater. 

Simple Ingredients List

2.5 medium white onions

2 large tomatoes

4 medium carrots

4-5 jalapeno or chili peppers 

1/2 red bell pepper

1/2 green bell pepper

1/3 head of green cabbage (optional)

1/2 can of peas (optional)

2 cloves of garlic

4 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 can of baked beans

1 cup of water

2-4 tsp. curry 

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. ginger spice

You Can Make Chakalaka Spice Ahead of Time

If you want to make chakalaka spice ahead of time (or use a store-bought version), then don’t include the curry, ginger spice, or paprika when you cook. Use the chakalaka spice instead. 

Here’s our chakalaka spice blend recipe.

South African Food - Chakalaka and Rice

What to Eat with Chakalaka? Our Serving Suggestions

If you will be using chakalaka as your main course, you can pair it with maize or rice.

The most traditional way to eat chakalaka is with pap (also known as sadza).  We use Iwisa Super Maize Meal. 

Our preferred rice to serve chakalaka with is basmati rice. 

If you want to serve the chakalaka as a side dish, we like to serve it with Peri-Peri chicken and pap (or rice). 

Because this is a popular dish for barbeques and cook-outs, you can also pair it with almost any kind of grilled meat or vegetables. Because it’s so versatile, it would make a great dish to bring to a potluck or holiday dinner (especially in the summer)!

South African Food - Peri-Peri Chicken, Chakalaka and Rice

What to Drink with Chakalaka

The first thing that comes to mind is to have it with a great refreshing beer, especially if you want to wash down the bit of spicy kick. 

If you want to pair it with a wine, you’ll want to keep in mind what kind of meat you’re serving. We usually have chakalaka with chicken, so a nice, light white wine works great. If you want something like Chardonnay, stay away from oak-ey California versions which can be too heavy. 

If you’re serving vegetables or eating it as a main dish, I would also stick with white.

However, if your meat is red meat, go for something simple like a Shiraz. 

For non-alcoholic drinks, if you want something special then think barbeque party fare like lemonade.

Yield: 6 servings

How to Make the Perfect Spicy Chakalaka

The perfect spicy chakalaka recipe to serve as a side dish or as a main course!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2.5 medium white onions, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, grated
  • 4 medium carrots, grated
  • 4-5 jalapeno or chili​ peppers (to your preferred taste and heat levels), diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/3 head of green cabbage, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 can of peas, drained (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 can of baked beans (about 14 oz)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2-4 tsp​. curry (to your taste)
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger spice

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil on high. Once the oil is heated, reduce the burner to a medium temperature.
  2. Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Cover the pot. Stir occasionally until soft and tender. (About five minutes).
  3. Add the chili peppers, cover the pot, and let it sit for five minutes.
  4. Add the Chakalaka seasoning (curry, paprika, and ginger), tomatoes, carrots, sugar, and water. If you're adding any optional vegetables like peas or cabbage, add in now as well. Stir together and cover the pot.
  5. After twenty minutes, add in the baked beans. Stir together and cover the pot. Let the pot sit for five mintues.
  6. Turn off the stove, and let the pot sit for ten to fifteen minutes before serving.

Notes

The flavors will become more complex over time, so feel free to make ahead and let sit for longer.

If you don't want to use half of two different colored bell peppers, you can use either a red one or a green one. We like to mix them for the color and the slightly different flavors, but we know sometimes you just want to use one pepper!

Make sure to grate the tomato over a bowl since it will be mostly liquid. If you've never grated a tomato before, don't grate all the way to the end. When it gets close to your fingers and is mostly just peel, stop. Just use the grated portion.

Because the flavors meld together over time, this is a great dish to eat as leftovers.

For this version, we didn't use cabbage, but we often make it with the cabbage. It's great both ways!

To make the dish less spicy, reduce the number of chili peppers you use. Make sure to test how spicy they are before cooking. Of course, chili peppers can get spicier or less spicy from being cooked, so use your best judgement for you and your family.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 250 Total Fat: 9.9g Saturated Fat: 1.9g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 399mg Carbohydrates: 37.9g Fiber: 9.2g Sugar: 16.8g Protein: 7.6g
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Pin this Chakalaka Recipe for Your Kitchen!

How to Make Perfect Spicy South African Chakalaka Recipe