Algeria

Algeria is a sovereign state in Northern Africa, sharing borders with Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali and Niger. With an area of 919,595 sq mi it is the largest country on the Mediterranean coast, the tenth largest country in the world and Africa’s largest country. The capital, Algiers is located in the country’s far north and is the country’s most populous city, with a mix of colonial and modernist architecture. Around 80% of Algeria is covered by the Sahara, the world’s largest hot desert. The Saharan oasis of Tabelbala in Bechar has its own language called “Korandje”. The vast mountain ranges of Aures and Nememcha occupy the entire north eastern part of Algeria and it’s highest point is Mount Tahat (3,003.m).

Football is the most popular sport in Algeria. The Algerian National Football Team joined Fifa in 1964, a year and a half after gaining independence. They have qualified for four world cups; the first in 1982, when they were the first African team to defeat a European team (2-1 against West Germany). In 2014 Algeria became the first African team to score four goals in a world cup match.

The cuisine of Algeria is a fusion of Arab, Berber, Mediterranean and Ottoman cuisine, differing slightly from region to region. Common ingredients are lamb, potatoes, carrots, onions, courgette and tomatoes. Traditional dishes include Couscous, Shakshouka (eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions), Khabz (flatbread), Jwaz (vegetable stew), Merguez (spicy lamb sausage), Baghrir (Maghreb’s pancakes) and Sfenj (doughnuts). I decided to make Lahm Lhalou (Algerian Sweet Lamb) which is popular during the month of Ramadan. I served it with roasted vegetable couscous. It was indeed quite sweet and rich in flavour but very enjoyable.

Rating: 7/10

Serves: 2
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

350g lamb, boneless , cubed
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp almonds, blanched
3/4 cup prunes, pitted
1/4 cup sugar

Sprinkle the lamb with salt and cook in a medium saucepan in oil until lightly browned
Remove the lamb and set aside
Add almonds, sugar, cinnamon to the same pan, stir well, then add water and orange juice
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly
Add lamb, cover and simmer 1 hour or until tender
Stir in prunes 15 minutes prior to the end of the cooking time
Remove cinnamon stick before serving
Serve with couscous flavoured with roasted vegetables

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