Tunisian recipes can fill large cookery books!
Tunisian gastronomy naturally belongs to Mediterranean cuisine since Tunisia is located at the heart of the Mediterranean. Like the rest of Mediterranean cuisine, Tunisian gastronomy associates delicious taste and scientifically-established diet virtues. Recipes use healthy natural products and indisputable quality ingredients.
Tunisian culinary art is based on olive oil, spices and appropriate ingredient dosage and mixing. Simple ingredients usually make refined dishes.
The variety of starters is unlimited. Brik à l’œuf is reputed. It can also be prepared with meat filling and fine herbs. Brik dannouni is equally famous. Other starters may be served including salade tunisienne (Tunisian salad), salade méchouia (grilled salad), grilled or boiled prawns, cloves, mussels, octopus, fish, and chicken or lamb soups. A Tunisian specialty is frik soup – a soup made with green barley semolina.
Fish is always fresh and tasty. It is prepared in different ways, or simply grilled or fried, and served with a sauce. The most frequently-served species are mullet – a locally well-appreciated variety, sole, sea bass, sea bream and grouper. Lobster is not rare.
Stews are countless. With a spicy tomato sauce, infinite sets of dishes are prepared. All sorts of meat, fish, vegetables and spices can be used, in varying proportions, to vary flavour. Different ways of cooking and varied dosage add more recipes.
Tajines are pâtés made of vegetables, such as spinach, eggs, meat and very fine puff pastry. Baked in the oven, they take the shape of the used utensil. They are cut into pieces and served.
The regal dish is obviously couscous. With a certain Berber origin, it is the national dish par excellence. It has two parts – durum wheat grains and vegetables. Grain size differs according to the quality of the semolina used in preparing the grains. Once prepared, the grains are steamed and sprayed with a sauce. However, it is the content of the sauce that gives the wide variety of couscous – beef, veal, lamb, chicken, fish, fresh or dried octopus, dried meat, vegetables, broad beans and chickpeas.
Each region adds its own specialities to this major diversity – fish soup à la sfaxienne, where barley bread pieces are soaked; rice à la djerbienne, specialty of Djerba; couscous with lamb saddle from the Sidi Bouzid region. In the countryside, very simple wild herb recipes are still appreciated.
Prompted to a very high degree of refinement by a millinery history, Tunisian culinary art translates the Tunisian capacity to assimilate and invent. It is one of the eloquent expressions of the Tunisian art of living.