This is one of a series of posts for Vegan MoFo 2010; my theme was a 'Virtual Random Road Trip', where I used random.org's random geographic location generator to select locations around the globe, I then attempted to cook a few dishes from the traditional cuisine of that place. I didn't have a lot of time between generating the locations and coming up with recipes (~ 1 day). So, lacking time to do proper research, I can't vouch for the authenticity of anything I came up with. However, they are what they are, and it was a fun theme.
I know a lot of people will have read the title quickly and are probably expecting to see "falafel" right about now. But, these are FelFel: Hot Algerian Peppers Stuffed with Nuts.
A vegan dish from the get-go, the felfel (peppers) are stuffed with a combination of ground pine nuts and walnuts seasoned with some garlic, chives, and salt to taste. The stuffed peppers are then pan fried in olive oil and dressed with fresh lemon juice. Very simple, but exquisitely delicious. This dish can be served as part of a meze or as a side dish.
In searching for recipes, I stumbled upon an online collection by Algerian cookbook author and culinary instructor, Chef Farid Zadi. You can find the stuffed pepper recipe here. If you feel so inclined, definitely peruse his site...there are a lot of veganizable recipes and information on Algerian cuisine.
The peppers are meant to be hot. In case, you can't find hot Algerian peppers in your grocery store (I couldn't...no surprise there) Chef Zadi recommends jalapeños in their stead. I used a combination of sweet yellow peppers and jalapeños...that way, it's easy to pick and choose between a little spice or a milder version, according to tastes.
I used the handle of a teaspoon to scrape the seeds out of the peppers. If you press the filling in well with your fingers, the nuts bind and the filling won't fall out while cooking.
Ad Hoc Note: I meant to say this originally, but if anyone is interested in a lower-fat version, I think these would work fine baked in the oven instead of pan fried. I think it would get real tasty in the oven if you added veggie broth to the bottom of the baking dish too, with some nooch! :P
I also tried my hand at some Berber flat bread. This is a traditional bread made with semolina flour, and eaten with sauces or stews in the Northeastern region of the country/along the coast. Semolina wheat was brought to the region in antiquity by the Carthaginians (who came to occupy much of northern Africa). The indigenous Berbers also used this flour to create couscous, which I'm sure many know, is Algeria's national dish.
Making this flat bread is much like making pasta dough. You put the semolina in a bowl, add a tad of olive oil, a bit of salt and then take up the rest with water until it reaches a workable consistency. You then form balls, roll it out and pan fry it in a little olive oil. I followed this recipe and quartered it, which was plenty for two people with some leftover.
The dip/spread is roasted peppers and tomatoes, seasoned with garlic, olive oil, and a pinch of salt.
I don't know about you, but after these tasty snacks, I'm ready for some exploring.
The capital city of Algiers holds much interest, but one place I'd want to visit if I were there is the Casbah, or the "old city ". Filled with hundreds of narrow labyrinths and stairways, visitors can see Ottoman architecture and remnants of the old walled citadel, while experiencing the life and culture of this still densely populated district.
To get an idea of some of the sights and the atmosphere of the Algiers Casbah district, check out Carine Iriarte's gallery of photos taken there. Here are a few samples of what you'll see:
You can read more about the Casbah of Algiers here: http://www.algeria.com/sights/algiers-casbah/
To begin a read on the much-needed restoration of this district, maybe start here.
Back soon with more North African delights from Algeria.