It has been reported that thanks in part to General de Gaulle, there are more and better Algerian restaurants within the confines of the cities of Paris and Tel Aviv than in Algiers. What confounds the French, but what Israelis have taken for granted for many years is that the foods found in the homes of former Algerians is so variegated one might easily be convinced that Algeria boasts three completely separate culinary styles.
The solution to this puzzle is simple enough. What is put on one's table depends on whether the restaurant one has entered is owned by someone whose roots are Saharan, urban Moslem or Jewish. Even though there are commonalties, there are also enormous differences in the cookery of the three groups. The major culinary contribution of the Algerian Bedouins to cuisine is the delicious mechoui, whole very young lamb rubbed with spices and spit roasted. Urban Moslems devised an enormous variety of delicately herbed stews (tagines), and the input of the Jews was in adapting French sauces and cooking methods to traditional North African cuisine.
1 duck, about 2 kgs.
1 cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. each salt, sweet paprika and white pepper
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
8 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
orange and lemon slices for garnish
Clean the duck well under running water. Cut away excess fat and refrigerate until ready to use. Reserve the fat.
Mix together all of the remaining ingredients, mixing until blended smoothly. With a brush spread this mixture on the inside and outside of the duck, coating evenly. Place the duck in a low oven for 2 hours. Every 45 minutes turn the duck and baste with the brush using the liquids in the pan and the remaining marinade. Be careful not to pierce the duck when turning.
After two hours, remove from the oven. Let cool for 15 minutes. Cover the duck and sauce with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-6 hours. One hour before serving remove from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1/2 hour. Remove the plastic wrap and cover the upper side of the duck with the fat that was reserved. (If this is not adequate add margarine to cover). Place in a hot oven for 1/2 hour. Garnish with orange and lemon slices.
This sauce may be purchased at many ethnic markets. Those who want to make it themselves will find it a simple operation.
2 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/4 tsp. each ground cumin and salt
olive oil as required
In a blender or with a mortar and pestle grind the peppers finely. Add the garlic, spices, tomato and salt. Crush until well blended. Scrape the mixture into a jar, pour over just enough olive oil to cover, cover tightly and refrigerate until needed.
(Yields about 1/4 cup. Considering how hot the sauce is, this quantity should last for quite a while.)
1 cup mushroom caps
1 cup olive oil
2 large green peppers, halved
2 medium onions, halved
2 tomatoes, halved
2 small zucchini squash, halved lengthwise
1 tsp. dill seed
1/2 tsp. each salt, pepper and ground garlic
juice of 2 large lemons
pinch of rosemary
Combine the oil, lemon juice and seasonings and mix well.
Put the vegetables in a mixing bowl and pour the marinade over. Toss gently and let stand for 1-2 hours, mixing occasionally.
Over a charcoal fire or under a hot broiler, grill the vegetables until the tops begin to blacken. Turn and coat each with a bit of the marinade and cook the second side until beginning to blacken but before burning. Serve hot.
1 kg. eggplant
about 1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice or more to taste
1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
4 - 6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. ground cumin
harissa sauce for serving (recipe follows)
From each eggplant, cut out 3 vertical strips of skin, leaving it with a striped effect. Slice the eggplant into 1/2" (1 cm) thick slices, salt and let drain in a colander for 1/2 hour. Rinse well and squeeze gently. Pat dry using paper toweling.
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and fry the slices, several at a time, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper toweling and then mash the eggplant, garlic and spices together. Return this mixture to the skillet and fry until all of the liquid evaporates and only oil and vegetables remain. Stir often during cooking.
Pour off the oil and season with the lemon juice. Correct the seasoning with salt to taste and let come to room temperature. Serve with the harissa sauce.
8 firm peaches
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar
6 whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon, about 3" (7 1/2 cm) long
Dip each peach in boiling water for 4-5 seconds and then peel the skins.
In a large saucepan, mix together the vinegar, sugar and cloves. Boil, covered, for 5 minutes. Lower the flame, add the peaches and simmer, covered, until the peaches are just tender (about 10-12 minutes).
Transfer the peaches to a sterile wide-mouthed jar, add the cinnamon sticks, pour over the liquids and seal. Let stand 2-3 days before serving. Remove from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving.