North African cuisine is a fragrant mix of exotic flavours, colourful spices and tantalising tastes. From slow-cooked tagines to fluffy couscous, here are 10 must-eat North African dishes.
Koshari is the national dish of Egpyt, so they'll be no shortage of options when it comes to the big cities of Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada. An unusual combination of rice, lentils and macaroni, the dish is then finished with a tomato sauce made of Middle Eastern spices, garbanzo beans and fried onions. Look out for 'Koshari Men', the street vendors selling steaming bowls to the patient crowds of locals and tourists.
Kafteji is a popular Tunisian street food - deep-fried vegetables and egg chopped together to make a fine mash, then served in a crusted baguette. It's a cheap and cheerful snack, perfect for a quick lunch stop in between sight seeing.
One of the most well-known Tunisian delights is leblebi, a slow-boiled chickpea stew poured over stale bread and then topped with garnishes such as runny egg, harissa, olives and tuna. For the best soups, keep an eye out for the 'Hanoot Leblebi', local shops specialising in authentic leblebi.
According to Tunisian tradition, a bride-to-be's mother will make brik (a fried triangle-shaped pastry, most commonly filled with egg) for the groom. If the groom can then eat the brik without spilling any of the egg, he is allowed to marry his beloved. Tourists can also enjoy brik, thankfully without any of the wedding pressure! Aside from raw egg, you can also find tuna, meat and chicken variations.
Couscous is perhaps the most famous of all North African food. It's the national dish of Morocco and a staple in all their cooking. There are endless ways to prepare couscous, although it's often used as a base for tagines or local stews. Remember that couscous is supposed to be a communal dish - rolling it into a tiny ball and then eating with your hands is expected.
The Big Salad
This Moroccan salad is exactly that - big. It's filled with pretty much everything you can think of - including potatoes, carrots, peas, eggs, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, tuna, beetroot, olives, sausage, cheese, rice, pasta and much more. It's a bright, filling and fresh meal - you definitely won't have room for anything else!
For something a little out of the ordinary, try to get your hands on an authentic bastilla. Bastilla is an elaborate meat pie, originally made with pigeon, but nowadays more often with chicken. There is a light and crispy warga pastry outside, with saffron chicken and spicy omelette stuffing, topped with crunchy toasted almonds, powdered sugar and a hint of cinnamon.
Molokhia is a leafy green vegetable, quite bitter and slimy when cooked. Sounds appetising, right? Egyptians usually cut the leaves finely with garlic and coriander, and then serve it as a soup or with pita bread and chicken.
The perfect size snack or mezze plate, sambousek is a delicious little pastry triangle filled with ground beef or lamb, feta and other cheeses. It's the ideal dish to share with a local family or newfound friends.
Ful Medames is an ancient Egyptian dish believed to date back to the time of the Pharaohs. Cooked fava beans are mashed with cumin, parsley, garlic and lemon juice, then usually eaten for breakfast. Think of it as the Egyptian equivalent to baked beans!
So if you're heading off to the likes of Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, Enfidha or Agadir, make sure you try these local specialities. Who's hungry?