Olympic Food Challenge #3

August 18, 2012

I am still licking my lips after tonight’s tasty dishes from Algeria. We had Dolma Khodra (stuffed and roasted vegetables), Chlada Bandjar (Beetroot Salad), Orange, Fennel and Almond Salad and a roasted pepper salad. The National Dish of Algeria is Couscous, but again, I deemed the weather too hot to spend too long in the kitchen so I opted for these delicious salads and stuffed vegetables. I figured that since Couscous is also the national dish of Morocco and Tunisia, I would get my chance to cook it at a later date!

Once again there were so many websites about Algerian cuisine to read – this is going to happen every week I’m beginning to realise. I stuck to three that I found useful/interesting/inspiring: foodbycountry.com, chefzadi.com  and globaltableadventure.com. Foodbycountry.com provides a very good summary of the history, origin and types of Algerian Cuisine. I loved globaltableadventure.com – there are a lot of websites out there where people are cooking a meal from every country and this is by far the most inspiring and thorough one I have come across.

Chef Zadi’s Dolma were very easy to make and the lamb nicely seasoned with green olives and onion. If anything, the recipe was too wet when I added the egg, so I stiffened it up with breadcrumbs, but that is the only thing I changed. I was especially pleased to stuff peppers and tomatoes grown in the garden!

The idea was for me not to spend too much time cooking this evening as the kitchen was far too hot with the evening sun beating down on that side of the house. Once the Dolma were cooked, it took me no more than 10 minutes to make the salads, allowing me to escape from the furnace-like kitchen while the oven was on.

I read on a couple of websites while researching Algerian food that Algerians love all kinds of salads and that they can be found on the table as commonly as couscous. I looked at a few recipes and then improvised and adapted according to what ingredients I had in the house.

To the Fennel, Orange and Almond Salad I added a tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper and chives. To the thinly sliced beetroot (which was already cooked) I added chopped coriander, mint and chives (from the garden might I add) and dressed it with a tbsp of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt, pepper and sugar. To the Roasted Pepper (from a jar – I’m a convert) I added a 1/4 of a very finely chopped small onion (ideally I would have used an echalote), a tsp of wine vinegar, a tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper.

Here’s how I rated it:

Tastyness: 8/10

Ease of sourcing ingredients: 10/10

Length of time spent cooking: Technically none as the oven did the cooking for 1hr and 10, but I spent about 20 minutes prepping the dolma and making the salads.

Will I make it again: yes!

Number of glasses of alcohol consumed while cooking: one panaché

Random food fact about Algeria: 80% of Algeria is covered by the Sahara Desert. This in itself is not a food fact, but it might go some way to explaining why the national dish of Algeria is Coucous, a very fine pasta shaped to look just like sand!

Next week we’re off to American Samoa…see you there!

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