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.

Pony Ride!

Much to her mommy’s delight, Lilias recently had her very first pony ride. We’ve promised pictures to many, so here they are…DSCN3041

Our brave girl hopped right on and smiled the whole wayDSCN3042

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She even had an audience cheering her onDSCN3044

Things We Love: Makloub

One of the best things about our city is the availability of cheap, delicious local food in tiny restaurants scattered about town.

One of our favorite places for a quick lunch is a cafeteria right around the corner from our house. They serve up one of the tastiest sandwiches we’ve ever had: the Makloub.

In Arabic, “makloub” means “upside down” or “turn over,” and that’s appropriate since this sandwich is essentially a small pizza crust, topped with grilled chicken and cheese, and baked in a pizza oven. Then it’s topped with whatever local sauces and salads one desires.

Take a look (the red one is HOT):

Then the sandwich is “makloubed” (see how well my Arabic is coming along?). The result:

Makloub

Heather loves makloub!

Plated

Gone

Total cost for both of us (with extra fries for Lilias): $2.02. And that is why we love it.