Tunisia, located just off the coast of North Africa, is a hot pot of cultural influences. These influences are from the Arabic peoples who first settled here, the not-to-distant Mediterranean, the Middle East and France. This means that the food here is incredibly diverse and varied. Dishes in Tunisia are usually cooked with coriander, cumin, caraway seeds and saffron. Flavoursome and often well-spiced, local Tunisian food will sate every foodie’s appetite.
What are Tunisian specialities?
You’ll find a lot of ingredients and a lot of dishes on most local Tunisian menus:
• Couscous is often served with most dishes or ground semolina
• Harissa is chilli paste that will almost always be served with every meal!
• Tajine is a spicy quiche that is served cold, usually in delis
• Briks are deep fried pastry pockets filled with tuna, capers and parsley
• Merguez is Tunisian beef sausage
• Lablabi is a delicious chickpea soup
• Shorba is a type of soup, sometimes with thick dumplings in it
• Kifta is a type of ground beef commonly found in Tunisian stews
• Shakshouka is Tunisian-style ratatouille
Which dish is most popular?
A very popular dish in Tunisia is the ‘poisson complet’ which uses a whole fish, including the innards, which is prepared over a grill or fried. It is usually served with chipped potatoes and either traditional harissa or an even spicier salsa. Peppers also feature here which are griddled over charcoal, together with tomatoes, onions and garlic. Finally, the fish is served with a poached egg on top which adds a different dimension. A little parsley is sprinkled over it, and also some lemon juice for a touch of tang.
Good news if you enjoy a tipple with your dinner as although Tunisia is an Islamic country, alcohol is by no means banned. The country even produces a vast range of rather good wines which are often served with dinners, as well as a good collection of beers and liquors. You can buy alcoholic drinks in most bars and restaurants.
Bad news if you’re a vegetarian but hear us out. Tunisia isn’t a country which totally ‘gets’ vegetarianism so if you are meat-free you might struggle a little bit when it comes to enjoying a varied diet. There are plenty of salads and vegetable based stews but ‘vegetarian’ dishes will usually have a meat stock in them and sometimes were cooked in meat for extra flavour. However, a good way to get round this is to stick with the starters in restaurant as these are usually fresh and flavoursome – and ask for these as a main.