Summer is the family season. I have never been a big fan of hot weather, or crowded beaches, but nothing brings as much joy to my heart as a family gathering. It, of course, comes with its ups and downs, but it, also, comes with a lot of laughter, shenanigans and most importantly a lot of delicious food, made with love.
We go to sleep looking for that first sunlight to beam through the curtains, and for my grandma’s voice waking everyone up for a mouth-watering traditional breakfast; a breakfast not like any breakfast you have ever tasted in your life. Not everyone can prepare, nor have to time and patience for it. This dish is called “El Aseeda”. It is usually prepared on the “Mouled” to celebrate the prophet Muhammed’s Birthday, yet we still indulge on certain occasions. So, let me tell you how you can do it, the Tunisian way.
-500 g of flour
-1L of water
-1 tsp of salt
-1tsp of butter
Mix the flour and the water with a spoon, try to slowly blend them together.
Once done, (you shouldn’t have a paste, it should be fluid), you filter the mixture in a pot, then add the salt.
With a look-alike wood spoon (without the bowl part of the spoon, though; called Medlek) you keep stirring constantly on a medium heat, until it thickens.
Once it starts looking like a dough, you add the butter, and you keep stirring for about 30 mins.
After 30 mins, pour some olive oil in a large plate, and then add the Aseeda on top of it. Round the paste according to the shape of the plate, then make a small whole in the middle of it, in which you pour a little bit of olive oil, and a generous amount of honey. You can even decorate the whole Aseeda with honey, if you want to. Some people prefer to eat it with sugar instead of honey; I personally do.
Now, I can’t tell you about Aseeda and breakfast without inviting you to the deliciousness of lunch. During a family gathering, we usually opt for couscous as a main dish for lunch. We cook it in numerous and various ways; it could be with fish, meat, chicken, vegetables, pomegranate and dates…I could go on and on, all day, but, for now, I will tell you more about my family’s recipe of chickpeas and black raisin couscous.
-1 kg of meat
-500g black raisins
-500g cooked chickpeas
-1 tbsp of cinnamon
-1 tsp of musk
-1 tbsp of incense
-1 kg of couscous
(500g thick/ 500 g thin)
-Salt and pepper
-2 ½ tbsp. of tomato paste
-2 tbsp of chili Powder
-7 Green peppers
-20 ml of oil
-1 ½ of water
Make a small hole in the middle of each one of the green peppers, and stuff it with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Once done, put the oil on medium heat, and let it heat up for 3 mins approximately, then fry the green peppers, and set them aside.
Brown the onions in the 20 ml of oil. Meanwhile, spice up the meal with a little bit from the mixture of musk, incense and cinnamon. Add some salt and pepper as well, then add it to the oil and onions. Let it cook for about 5 to 10 mins
Add the tomato paste and the chili powder, and stir for about 5 mins, until the tomato’s color becomes darker. Once done, pour the water, cover it and let cook for about 1 hour
Put the black raisins to steam until it’s 90% cooked
In a big bowl, mix the two types of couscous, add 2 tbsp of oil, and 10 ml of water, 1 tsp of salt, and blend. Make sure it is not lumpy.
Once the black raisins are cooked, you start steaming the rice. You let it steam for about 25 to 30 mins. Then, you put it back in the big bowl, and add 10 ml of water to it. Blend well, then let it steam another 15 mins.
Take a look at the sauce, it the meat is fully cooked, and the sauce has a semi thick texture, then turn off the stove. And set aside.
After 15 mins, take the couscous off the stove and add some of the musk, incense and cinnamon and black ground pepper to it then mix.
In a large plate mix the chickpeas and raisins with a tbsp. of the incense, musk and cinnamon mixture. Let them steam until the raisins are fully cooked.
Meanwhile, blend the sauce and the couscous. You don’t have to use all the sauce. Taste it. If the couscous doesn’t have a dry texture, you can stop.
How to serve: In a plate, put the couscous, garnish with the chickpeas and raisins, the meat, and one or two green peppers. Serve immediately.
It is commonly known that nothing can beat the food our families make. Even if it doesn’t taste like the food we find in a five-star- restaurant, yet it always has that special touch. I just believe that every family recipe tells a story.
girl in the image is too short for cooking. she looks like kid. kids should not work
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