Tunisian food is prepared in Tunisia, a country in North Africa. The cuisine differs between regions across the country, from the coast to the Atlas Mountain region. Tunisian food is generally very spicy and is predominantly non-vegetarian.
Tunisian Food – Influential Factors
The Tunisian cuisine is a blend of dishes from dessert dwellers and Mediterranean cuisine. The Berber community in Tunisia are pastoral nomads, and their cooking style was influenced by their way of life in the past. Cooking in the tagine, a vessel with a triangular lid, comes from the nomadic lifestyle. Tunisia has been also ruled by Romans, Arabs, Turks, and later the French. Therefore, the cuisine of Tunisia has a trace of cooking style and dishes from all these countries. The population of Tunisia is mostly Islamic, while Christians and Jews also live here. Thus, the food of the people is in accordance with their faith. Pork is not consumed by Muslims.
Meat, fish, tomatoes, and spices comprise a major part of the Tunisian cuisine. Olive oil is used widely for cooking. Harissa, a hot sauce made of red peppers and garlic, is commonly used for making the food spicy. Eggs, cereals, pasta, and vegetables like carrots, onions, cucumbers, and eggplants also find place in the Tunisian cuisine. Fruits including grapes, figs and dates are largely consumed in this country.
Everyday and Traditional Dishes
· Couscous is the traditional food of Tunisia. It is a dish made of meat, vegetables, pasta, and spices and is cooked in a double boiler.
· The khobz tabouna is a traditional bread, baked in oven.
Soups, salads, stews, pasta, sausages, and pastries are all part of Tunisian food.
· Chorba is a soup made of meat, fish, and pasta.
· Lablabi is a soup made with garlic and chickpea.
· Merguez is a sausage made with grilled lamb or beef.
· Brik is a popular snack, which is similar to a samosa, with fillings of meat, fish, egg, or vegetables.
Makroudh, mhalbiya, bambaloni, bouza are some of the cake varieties of this region.
· Makroudh is a cake made with semolina.
· Mhalbiya is a cake made with rice and nuts.
· Baklava is a pastry made with many varieties of nuts and dipped in honey after baking.
Coffee and tea are the main beverages of this country.
Health Benefits of Tunisian Cuisine
As olive oil is the primary cooking medium, the health benefits of this oil passes on to the people. Olive oil is known to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps with arthritis. It reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. The food ingredients such as meat and fish are a rich source of protein. Pasta and cereals provide the carbohydrates, and vitamins are obtained from the vegetables. Thus, the Tunisian food is generally considered to be very healthy.
The importance of spice in Tunisian food can be measured by the fact that a Tunisian man evaluates the love of his wife with the amount of peppers she puts in the food. If food is less spicy, then love towards husband is also considered to be less.