(127) Algeria – M’thouem (Garlic Meatballs in Spicy Red Garlic Sauce)

Source: kayak.com

Algeria is a North African country situated between Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and Alboran Sea. 80% of Algeria is made up by the Sahara desert. The country is known for its artisanship- pottery, carpet weaving, and wooden sculptures.

The cuisine of Algeria is made up of several cultures; Berbers, Romans, French, Spanish, Turks, and Arabs. Common spices used in their cooking includes cumin, caraway, fennel, coriander, and marjoram. A typical Algerian meal will consist of meat (lamb, beef, or poultry), bread, fresh herbs, vegetables, and oil. Couscous is another staple of the Algerian diet. Pork is not consumed due to the majority of the country being Muslim. One would traditionally eat an Algerian meal at a low sitting table using their right thumb, index, and middle fingers.

Mtewem which is Arabic for “with garlic,” is classically prepared in a tajine pot with either a white sauce or spicy red sauce. The meatballs can be made with either ground lamb, chicken, or beef and like the name implies LOTS of garlic!

I found the dish was easy enough to prepare. The meatballs were not perfectly formed and seemed to fall apart a little while cooking. I used canned chickpeas to cut preparation time as well which is usually my go to! I used a mild olive oil as my cooking oil. To add a little more to this meal, all though not traditional we added jasmine rice.

This dish had slight flavors of cumin and lemon which was a nice pairing, the main character however was garlic! It overall felt light and healthy to eat. The almond flavor was mild, but enjoyable. We also discovered meat balls and chickpeas work well together! We just wished the sauce was more abundant. The dish was rated 8/10.

Algerian Hirshon Garlic Meatballs in Spicy Red Garlic Sauce

A flavorful meal of meatballs and chickpeas with subtle flavors of lemon and almonds
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

Meatballs

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 head of garlic
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauce

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 head of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp harissa can use paprika
  • 1 15.5 oz can of chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup almonds Marcona if you can find them- ground
  • 3 tbsp argan oil or other neutral oil
  • 6 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Extras

  • 1/2 cup parsley chopped
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • bread optional for serving

Instructions
 

  • Start making meatballs by kneading ground beef in bowl with a few tbsp of water. Keep kneading until all water is incorporated- this will increase meat tenderness.
  • Add the remaining meatball ingredients to bowl and mix well. Oil hands with neutral or argan oil and make walnut-sized balls transferring balls to platter.
  • Add meatballs to skillet/large sauce pan with warmed oil at medium heat. Brown on all sides and remove from pan. Add onions and cook until golden. Then add garlic, chickpeas, spices, ground almonds, tomato paste, harissa, and meatballs. Add enough water to cover everything and allow to cook for 20 minutes at medium low heat (until meat is tender).
  • Once meatballs are cooked through remove from pan and reduce sauce for an additional 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
  • To serve return meatballs in sauce and top with fresh parsley and lemon slices. You may also serve with bread to help absorb the sauce.
Keyword Algeria, Chickpeas, Meatballs

(119) Israel – Falafel

Source: Commonwealthsource.org

Israel, apart of the Middle East is a country known for its religions and sacred Jerusalem. Israel borders the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Israel is the only country to have revived a “dead” language and has made it their national language. This language is Hebrew. The Dead Sea, which borders Jordan and Israel, is the lowest point on Earth, nearly 420 m or 1377 ft below sea level and is 10x saltier which means there is no marine life hence “dead” sea.

The cuisine of Israel is a blend of Jewish, Middle Eastern, Arab, and Mediterranean cuisines. Like many other countries, the cuisine can differ depending on what region you are in. Holidays and celebrations of the Jewish and Arab cultures also have their special dishes for the occasion. It is said a meal without a salad is not a meal at all in Israel (oops I dropped the ball!). Common foods you can find throughout Israeli cuisine include chickpeas, couscous, fish, fresh vegetables, pita bread, and chicken to name a few components. Israel is thought to be a melting pot of cultures which brings a vast variety of foods and an ever growing cuisine!

For Israel I decided to attempt the beloved falafel, up until now I had never tried it before! Falafel is an unofficial national dish of Israel due to being the most popular street food, however it is also considered a national dish in several of the surrounding countries. Some believe that it was first created in Egypt over 1,000 years ago and brought to the Middle East and others claim India was the inventor of falafel 1,400 years ago. There is also talk that Egypt create falafel more recently in the late 19th century and originally was made using fava beans instead of chickpeas.

I didn’t cut any corners here, except for the use of my air fryer of course! I allowed my chickpeas to soak as the recipe warned it wouldn’t work otherwise. I followed the recipe but had difficulty getting them to stay in perfect ball shape. A lot of them would crumble with any pressure. This recipe also is VERY time consuming, just prepare ahead! Shaping every ball alone is time consuming. The recipe recommends frying in a pan which would allow more to cook at once but the air fryer decreased the grease. This could have lead to the falafel being on the dry side.

This meal had good flavors with roasted garlic being a highlight on our palettes. Hummus was key to balance the dryness of the dish and the fresh vegetables brought a refreshing crunch and more moisture to the meal. This was my first attempt at falafel and I think it was a decent go at it. We rated it 7.5/10.

(46) Morocco – Lamb Tagine with Apricots

Tamnougalt, Morocco. Source: blogs.sas.com

Welcome to another day at The Messy Aprons, we are quickly approaching 50 countries! Today we are in Morocco, a Northern African country that is a blend of Arabic, European, and Berber culture which heavily influences the cuisine. Berbers are an ethnic group of Northern Africa that are often farmers in rural areas, but historically were nomadic merchants that brought caravans across the deserts. Fridays are known as “couscous day” which is the holy day of the week in Morocco.

I made a lovely, flavorful dish to represent the beauty of Morocco – Lamb Tagine with Apricots. Tagine is a traditional Berber, slow-cooked stew that is named after the special clay pot that it’s prepared in. These stews are full of several of delicious ingredients including chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and garlic. This dish is also full of spice that makes the dish so warm and comforting. Luckily I found a recipe that I could follow without the special cookware, time to fire up the Instant Pot!

Again, I substituted stewing beef for the lamb but let me know if you decide to make it traditionally! The recipe was straight forward, but it definitely took me longer to make than the 10 minutes of prep time. This aromatic dish had my kitchen full of Arabic smells and left my stomach growling! I decided to add extra ginger, garlic, and dry spices because why not? It did not leave us disappointed!

We LOVED this dish. I loved all of the elements and it left us craving more. I could see myself eating this on the regular. It had that winning combo of tomato and cinnamon that we had discovered in paste dishes. The topping of cilantro brightened the hearty stew. Top marks Morocco- we rate you 10/10.