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Algerian harira recipe

Algerian harira recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Soup
  • Lamb soup

Traditionally, Harira is the fast-breaking dish during the month of Ramadan. It is a creamy soup of meat and vegetables served with borek, dates and lemon slices.

19 people made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • 500g lamb stewing steak
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch mint, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch celery, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 2 litres warm water
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 courgette, peeled
  • 1 potato, peeled
  • 1/2 (400g) tin chickpeas, drained
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • lemon slices, to serve

MethodPrep:35min ›Cook:1hr10min ›Ready in:1hr45min

  1. In a large pot over low heat, add the lamb, onion, tomatoes, oil, herbs, celery, spices and salt. Cook and stir over low heat for 20 minutes.
  2. Cover with water, add the vegetables and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Check that the lamb is cooked and tender. Remove the meat from the pot and purée the rest of the ingredients using a hand held blender.
  4. Return the lamb to the pot and add the chickpeas. Cook for 10 minutes, till chickpeas are warmed through.
  5. Dissolve the flour in a glass of water.
  6. Add the flour mixture and the lemon juice to the pot and stir while cooking over low heat until the soup turns creamy. Serve hot with lemon slices.

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Tajine Jelbana

Tajine jelbana is a delicious traditional North African meat stew that is prepared with peas, artichoke, potatoes and carrots.

What is a tagine?

A tagine refers to a hollow earthenware baking dish covered by a conical lid. But it is also the name of the dish that is cooked in this cookware itself.

The distinctive shape of the tagine is not only decorative but has an important function. Indeed, in an arid region like the Maghreb, it meets a local need to cook food without a lot of water. It also allows to cook without much fat, which keeps most of the natural flavor of food.

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The steam from meat and vegetables condenses inside the conical walls of the lid before dripping on the entire dish to moisten it. The result is a tasty dish in which food is tender and fragrant, but also slightly caramelized.

Some earthenware tagine pots are used for cooking, where others that are painted are only used for decoration.

There is not one but dozens of recipes for tagines. In Morocco and Algeria, tajines actually refer to several dishes made of meat, fish and/or vegetables that are stewed in this conical cookware.

It is interesting to note that this dish is really of Berber origin even if the etymology of the word is uncertain and could be attributed to the Greeks (teganon, frying pan) or the Persians.

Indeed, tahchin (چين تة) is a delicious saffron rice dish baked in an oven.

It is important to note that Moroccan or Algerian tagine has absolutely nothing to do with Tunisian tagine which is a kind of quiche without any dough.

Using the word “tajine” to describe the dish has now become customary, but other names such as marqa (mar3a) or dwaz are also used to describe stews and casseroles in North Africa.

The tajine featured here is tajine jelbana, also called jelban marqa which is as popular in Algeria as in Morocco or Tunisia.

This tagine is a peas tagine, and is typically prepared with potatoes, carrots and artichoke bottoms.

The meat used for tajine jalbana can vary, but it is generally lamb or veal, although it can also include beef or chicken. It may also be finished with a white sauce prepared with egg and lemon, a similar preparation to Greek avgolemono or chorba beida.

What is the origin of peas?

Peas were one of the oldest vegetables grown in Europe and Asia, dating at least 10 000 years. What is less known is that until quite recently, it was eaten in a dry form. And that is what is called split pea. It is obtained by removing the seed coat from dried peas, that is relatively indigestible.

Eating fresh peas first became popular in Italy and the Netherlands. The snert soup actually comes from the Netherlands.

What is the origin of artichoke?

When it comes to artichoke, it is often mentioned that it originated in North Africa, Egypt or Ethiopia. The word for this vegetable in many European languages ​​today actually comes from medieval Arab (الخرشوف) al khurshuuf via Spanish where it is also called alcachofa.

Artichoke can be found in many North African and Mediterranean dishes such as the dolma qarnoun or couscous au beurre.

What is the origin of ras el hanout?

Maghnia (or Marnia), a small city in Algeria, not far from the Moroccan border, is famous for its spices, and in particular ras el hanout (Arabic: رأس الحانوت).

Ras el hanout is the quintessential spice blend in North African cuisine. It literally means “head of the shop” because this mixture is often found at the entrance of the markets. There are hundreds of variations for this spice blend that can contain up to 40 different spices, the most common spices include cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cumin, cloves, mace and coriander seeds. This spice mixture is used in couscous, tagines, and other dishes from the Maghreb.

When Ramadan is around the corner, the city of Maghnia becomes a destination for all Western and the Southwestern Algeria families, who come to buy spices, most of which come from Morocco, a guarantee of quality for most Algerians.

I prepared this tajine jelbana for our Friday night dinner two weeks ago. The meat was succulent and the vegetables were the most tender. Needless to say that there were no leftovers!

This recipe is validated by our Algerian culinary expert Assia Benabbes, author of culinary blog Gourmandise Assia (in French).

5 Traditional dishes from Algeria

Nothing brings the family together quite like a great meal. Algeria possesses a rich culture that has been influenced by ethnic groups from all around the world. From their art to their cuisine, foreign influences can be seen in Algerian culture through and through.

Are you planning a trip to Algeria soon? Or are you planning on cooking up an exotic meal for the family? For either situation, knowledge of some amazing recipes will do wonders. We’ve prepared a list of 5 traditional dishes from Algeria that are sure to amaze friends and family alike.

1. Chakchouka

Start your day off right with Chakchouka, a traditional Algerian dish that’s mainly eaten for breakfast. This dish is simple to make and can be completed in around 20 minutes. Traditionally, the main components in Chakchouka include sautéed onions, tomatoes and various spices topped with a few eggs. This meal goes great with a side of bread, pita or rice to soak up the sauces, so try it out!

Often considered the national dish of Algeria, Couscous is a perfect complement to any meal. This dish is composed of small pellets of steamed semolina topped with meat, vegetables, and various spices. In Algeria, the most popular meat and vegetable accompaniments for this meal include chicken, carrots and chickpeas. Although a rather simple dish, Couscous offers considerable freedom in its selection of ingredients. Try personalizing your own recipe!

3. Hariri

Are you in the mood for something light to fill your stomach? Harira is a traditional North African soup possessing a rich and hearty flavor. Recipes for this dish vary from region to region but in Algeria, Harira is often composed of lamb simmered with vegetables, spices and herbs. Try cooking up a pot of Harira on a cold day to surprise your family!

Start any event off on a good note with Mechoui, a traditional North African dish. The name Mechoui comes from an Arabic word meaning “roast on a fire,” and like its namesake, the meal is prepared in much the same way. This dish is composed of meat spiced and roasted over a fire and is mainly prepared for large gatherings. In the Algerian variation, the meat is roasted on a spit giving the meat a crispy and delicious flavor.

Are you in the mood for something sweet to eat? Try eating some Makroudh, a traditional Algerian dessert. This pastry is composed of a date or almond stuffing with deep fried semolina dipped in honey. Makroudh also goes great with coffee in the morning so the next chance you get, take the time to enjoy a morning snack before rushing off to work.

Want to try some new and exotic dishes? Drawing influences from Berber, Arab and other European cultures, Algerian cuisine is sure to present you with a taste you’ll never forget. Try one of these five dishes from Algeria with your family for an experience you won’t regret!

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound cubed lamb meat
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 (29 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 7 cups water
  • ¾ cup green lentils
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 4 ounces vermicelli pasta
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Place the lamb, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, butter, celery, onion, and cilantro into a large soup pot over a low heat. Stir frequently for 5 minutes. Pour tomatoes (reserve juice) into the mixture and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour tomato juice, 7 cups water, and the lentils into the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Let soup simmer, covered, for 2 hours.

About 10 minutes before serving turn the heat to medium-high, place chickpeas and noodles into the soup, let cook about 10 minutes (until noodles are al dente). Stir in lemon and eggs, let eggs cook 1 minute.

Best Algerian Foods


As you probably know, Couscous is a pyramid of tender grains that people serve on a platter at the end of a meal. Although it is the national dish of Morocco, it is also a very popular and common meal in Algeria. The word Couscous refers to the complete dish and also to the grains of semolina.

Tajine Zitoune

Olive Tajine or Tajine zitoune is a traditional Algerian food that people prepare with ingredients like chicken, olives, onions, carrots, mushrooms, thyme, bay leaves, lemon juice, and saffron or turmeric. They blanch and dry olives, while at the same time brown the chicken with onions and spices.

They cook the meat in water with vegetables, mushrooms, and olives, and let the combination simmer until tender. Near the end of cooking, they add flour and lemon juice and pour over the chicken. People usually cook this Algerian food in a tagine, and it is recommended to garnish it with cilantro and serve it hot with saffron rice on the side.

Chorba Frik

This traditional soup is one of the staples of Algerian food and cuisine. It is a soup with tomato base that people prepare with meat, chickpeas, and an ancient grain called frik. They season it with mint or coriander, which give the dish a typical oriental flavor.

Frik (the main ingredient of this Algerian food) is a grain that people commonly use in Algerian dishes. This ancient cereal, familiar to the Mediterranean and Arabic countries, has an unusual green color, and resembles the more popular bulgur. Chorba frik is easier to find in the eastern parts of the country, but you can also find it throughout Algeria.

Chorba Frik is very nutritious, and therefore people serve it alone with various breads or traditional Algerian flatbreads like kesra. People typically serve Algerian food on Ramadan month with borek: a crispy pastry filled with minced meat.


Chakhchoukha is a tasty Algerian food with pieces of rougag (a thin and round flatbread) and marqa. Marqa is a stew with lamb, tomatoes, chickpeas, onions, and seasonings like cumin, ras el hanout, caraway, galangal, lavender, and red chili peppers.

The dish is especially popular at celebrations. It is said that shepherds who needed a hearty meal when they came home on cold nights invented this dish. The name of the dish can be translated to torn flatbread, referring to the key ingredient of this Algerian food.


This dish is actually the most popular soup in Morocco, symbolizing the unification of people during the holy month of Ramadan. People in Algeria serve Harira with dates, figs, coffee, or milk, along with fried honey cookies shaped like flowers and sprinkled with sesame, called chebakia.


Mahjouba is a traditional Algerian pancake that is one of the most popular street foods in the country. People make these thick and flaky pancakes with semolina, and then fill it with tomatoes and caramelized onions. People usually serve this Algerian food with harissa sauce on the side (which is completely optional).


Msemen is a traditional square-shaped flatbread with flour, semolina, sugar, salt, yeast, warm water, oil, and butter from Morocco.

People cook the dough on a griddle or fry in a pan until it is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Although people traditionally eat msemen with coffee or tea, they also sometimes stuff it with meats and vegetables.

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Harira soup

Harira is a soup traditionally eaten during the holy month of Ramadan to break the daily fast, which begins at dawn and ends at sunset. It’s also served on special occasions, such as the morning after a wedding. Rice and noodles are commonly added to harira to bulk it up and make it suitable for an everyday meal.



Skill level


  • 75 g (½ cup) dried chickpeas
  • 40 g butter
  • 500 g lamb shoulder, untrimmed, cut into 1 cm pieces
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1 cm pieces
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 generous pinch of saffron threads, soaked in 1 tbsp hot water
  • 1.2 kg truss tomatoes, peeled, seeded, puréed
  • ½ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, including stalks
  • 50 g (⅓ cup) dried green lentils, rinsed, drained
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ lemon, juiced, plus lemon wedges, to serve
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped coriander leaves

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Soaking time overnight

Place chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak overnight.

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add lamb, onions, celery, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and saffron with soaking liquid, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until lamb is browned. Add puréed tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the mixture has slightly thickened.

Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas, half the parsley and 1.25 litres water, then bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Add lentils and cook for a further 45 minutes or until lentils and chickpeas are tender.

Meanwhile, whisk together eggs and lemon juice. Add egg mixture and remaining parsley to harira and stir to combine the eggs will form small white strands. Remove harira from heat and season.

Divide harira among bowls, scatter over coriander and sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. Serve immediately with lemon wedges to squeeze over.

Photography by Anson Smart.

As seen in Feast magazine, October 2011, Issue 2. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.

Algerian harira recipe - Recipes



El Yasmina Salé | Algerian Jasmine Pastry
Calamari Frit Tipazienne | Algerian Style Fried Calamari

Berkoukes b'Ham | Algerian Pasta Pellets with Beef
Sumac Köfte Kebab | Sumac Spiced Beef Skewers
Koloszvàri Rakott Kàposzta | Hungarian Layered Cabbage
M'thouem | Algerian Garlicky Meatballs in red sauce
L'hama Helou | Algerian Sweet Meats
Dolma Qaraâ wa Djelbenna | Stuffed Courgettes w/Peas
Hasanpaşa Köfte | Algero-Turkish Meat & Potatoes
Dolma Batatas wa Qaraâ | Stuffed Potatoes & Courgettes
Djej M'hammr | Moroccan Roasted Chicken
Tadjine Djedj b' Zeitoun | Algerian Chicken with Olives
Tadjine Kefta b'Zeitoun | Algerian Meatballs with Olives
Merguez | Homemade North African Sausages
Bœuf Bourguignon | French Beef Stew (Halal Version)
Makarona bel salsa | Tunisian Spicy Pasta (with beef)
Tadjine S'fardjel | Algerian Lamb with Quinces
Osbane Algérois | Algerian Stuffed Tripe
Méchouï | Algeria Style Grilled Meats
Tadjine Kibda chemoula b' Zeitoun | Algerian Liver with Olives
Marqa Djilbenna | North African Sweet Pea Stew
Tlitli bel Djedj | Algerian Bird's Tongue Pasta
Berkoukes bel Djedj Algerian Large Grain Couscous with Chicken
Loubia bel Merguez | Algerian Style White Bean Stew with Merguez Sausage
Dolma Besbes | Algerian Style Stuffed Fennel
Tadjine Zeitoun | Algerian Style Chicken with Olives (VIDEO)

Sépia Chtitha | Cuttlefish in a Piquant Sauce
Chititha Crevettes | Shrimp in a Piquant Sauce
Thon Chtitha | Tuna in a Piquant Sauce

7. Moloukhiya – A Tasty Algerian Curry

What is it: A delicious curry made from a vegetable of the same name, which has a bitter taste. Besides the sufficient amount of chilies and spices, the addition of tender lamb or shredded chicken makes it all the more lip-smacking.

What does it taste like: The vegetable moloukhiya has a bitter taste, though the addition of spices and chilies would overpower it.

Chorba Freek / Freekeh Soup – An Essential Algerian Ramadan Recipe

After breaking fast with dates and/or water, Chorba Freek to me is the epitome of the breaking fast meal. Especially here in Algeria, no table seems complete without it during Ramadan. Algeria has a wide variety of soups including Harira & Chorba Bayda ‘white soup’. The one I think is the best? Chorba Freek. I’ve made it many times and it has appeared twice on the blog already – here and here. While I stand by those recipes. The recipe I present now is my new favourite and very close to the way my Algerian mother in law makes freekeh soup i.e. it’s traditional.

Freekeh or farik is a cereal food made from green durum wheat that is roasted and rubbed to create its unique flavor . Wikipedia

The root of the name freekeh comes from the Arabic verbفرك farak ‘rub’.

The flavours of slightly smoky nutty freekeh with sweet tomato and cinnamon, fresh vibrant mint and coriander. It’s really lovely, you have to try it! Chorba frik is often served at weddings. At least every Algerian wedding I’ve been to, which is not that many. Still I think it’s safe to say freekeh soup is loved by the masses. I can imagine people looking at this and thinking “soup in summer?!” Well, during Ramadan we don’t eat the soup piping hot as we do in winter, instead we serve it warm. Plus soups are a different way of getting water into the body, which really is essential after a day fasting. One thing I notice about the photos is there are no glasses of water/juice etc on the table. Clearly I wasn’t in full Ramadan mode. Another essential Ramadan recipe for me is Hmiss / Salade Mechouia– grilled pepper salad. Recipe to follow…in shaa Allah


Mhadjeb, or mahjouba, is a staple of Algerian cooking and a common street food in Algiers and Oran. You’ll sometimes find it in recipe books as Algerian crêpes. In essence, mhadjeb is a crêpe filled with a paste of tomatoes and chopped vegetables like carrots, onions and chilis which have been simmered. A street vendor will place a piece of flat dough on the skillet, add the paste, and fold the dough into a square to cook. You can watch a video of this being done in the Casbah in Algiers here.