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!
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The Best Tunisian Food
Our favorites, in no particular order…
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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
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
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).
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 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!
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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