Recipe: Ojja

One of our goals here, along with learning language, is to immerse ourselves in the culture. And best way to do that is by eating what the locals eat. So from time to time we’d like to share with you some recipes that we’ve been enjoying, in hopes that the more adventurous among you might like to try some of the local food for yourselves.

Today’s recipe: Ojja

Ojja is a go-to meal here, sort of like spaghetti at home. Everyone always has the ingredients around, and it can be easily thrown together at the last minute. It has become a favorite at our home as well!

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • Tomato Paste
  • Ground Caraway*
  • Ground Coriander*
  • Ground Red Pepper
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic
  • Eggs
  • Meat – Merguez is the most popular choice (a North African beef sausage you may be able to find in a specialty store), but we like to also use Chicken (strips, chopped breasts or thighs), or shrimp

*These two spices are crucial to most of the North African recipes we love. They are most often found here combined.

Heat 4 TBL olive oil in wok, cast iron skillet or large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and green pepper. Once the onion and pepper are soft (5 minutes), add 1/3 cup tomato paste. Saute together for 1  minute.

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Then, add 1 TBL ground caraway seed, 1 TBL coriander, and 1/4 tsp ground red pepper, salt, and garlic. At this point you may need to add a little more oil, to keep it from sticking. Stir until combined.

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Next, add meat. Cook until meat is browned slightly, stirring occasionally.

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Once the meat is browned, add 1 1/2 -2 cups water, and allow to cook down slightly until you have a slightly thick sauce, adding water if necessary.

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Finally, crack eggs on top (one for each person you are serving; this recipe makes roughly 4 servings).

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Cover the skillet, allow to cook until eggs are done. (Preferably the yolks will still be runny, unless you are against that!)

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Each person receives a portion of the stew, with an egg included. Serve with sliced French Baguette (to be used instead of silverware!)

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Lilias seriously licked the bowl clean!

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She also has taken to the local habit of digging into the end of the baguette.

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Recipe: Tomato Cucumber Mint Salad

One of our goals here, along with learning language, is to immerse ourselves in the culture. And best way to do that is by eating what the locals eat. So from time to time we’d like to share with you some recipes that we’ve been enjoying, in hopes that the more adventurous among you might like to try some of the local food for yourselves.

Let’s start today with one that is simple, delicious, and doesn’t require too great a spirit of adventure when eating.

Today’s recipe: Tomato Cucumber Mint Salad

This is a quick and easy, light summer recipe that comes together amazingly quickly.  As in, our dinner was ready to eat when I remembered that we had forgotten to make this salad, and we made it (and photographed it) before the biscuits cooled from the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Small onion (red or white)
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 T dried mint (finely crushed)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/8 t pepper

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If your olive oil label is not in Arabic, do not be alarmed. It will still work.

Next, cut and seed the tomatoes and the cucumber.

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Then dice the tomatoes, cucumber and onion, arranging them perfectly in a bowl just as your wife tells you, so they’ll look prettier on the blog, because she “knows a lot about food blogs.”

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Add the olive oil, salt, pepper and mint, as well as the juice from the lemon. Stir to combine.

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This made enough for two-three people as a side dish. If you try it, please let us know what you think!