Maghreb cuisine is the cooking of the Maghreb region, the northwesternmost part of Africa along the Mediterranean Sea, consisting of the countries of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. The region has a high degree of geographic, political, social, economic and cultural diversity which influences its cuisine and culinary style.
Well-known dishes from the region include couscous, pastilla, and tajine stew.
The cuisine of the Maghreb, the western region of North Africa that includes the four countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya plus the West-African country of Mauritania, is by origin Berber. The cuisines of Algeria, Tunisia and Libya have also been influenced by French and Italian cuisine respectively.
In Maghrebi cuisine, the most common staple foods are wheat (for khobz bread and couscous), fish, seafood, goat, lamb, beef, dates, almonds, olives and various vegetables and fruits.
Because the region is predominantly Muslim, halal meats are usually eaten. Most dishes are spiced.
The use of legumes, nuts, fruits and spices is very prominent. Salt-preserved lemons (l'hamd mrakad) and so-called "oil-cured" olives are distinctive elements of the cuisine.
The best-known Maghrebi dish abroad is couscous, made from wheat semolina. The tajine, a cooking vessel made of clay of Berber origin, is also a common denominator in this region, although the dishes and preparation methods vary widely. For example, a tajine in Tunisia is a baked quiche-like dish, whereas in Morocco it is a slow-cooked stew. Pastilla is also an important Andalusian dish of the region.
Spices found in this region's cuisine are ginger, allspice, caraway, saffron, paprika, cloves, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and turmeric. Fresh peppermint, parsley, or coriander are also very common. Spice mixtures such as ras el hanout, baharat, and chili pastes like harissa (especially in Tunisia) are frequently used.
North Africa's best-known dish has become one of the most widely consumed foods in France. These days, even ordinary neighborhood bistros often feature a couscous special one day of the week.
Does this most famous of all Moroccan dishes actually need to be cooked in a real tagine?