Our Best North African Recipes for Terrific Tagines and Then Some | SAVEUR

Our Best North African Recipes for Terrific Tagines and Then Some

All the best things to eat between the Sahara and the Mediterranean

Traditional North African food draws inspiration from the culinary traditions of Europe, Africa, and the Arab Middle East. From the rich tagines of Morocco to the harissa-spiced dishes of Tunisia, the sea-meets-desert cuisine offers of wealth of hearty, comforting, and complex meals worth getting to know.

Harissa is a rich, garlicky chile paste hailing from Tunisia that serves as a base for dishes across North Africa. You can buy prepared versions, but it's easy to make at home. One of our best stew recipes calls on harissa to amp up earthy lamb and cauliflower.

French colonialism in the region is apparent in its food: take for example the Tunisian sandwich casse-croute tunisien, an obvious example of French cooking, being essentially a classic pan bagnat with the addition of harissa. The influence reverse-migrated way too: today, you can find all manner of North African fare in France, such as couscous royale, the common celebratory dish of fluffy couscous lavished with a hefty mountain of assorted meats.

To help you take a brief tour without leaving your kitchen, we've rounded up our favorite North African recipes.

Tahini-Beet Dip

Tahini's nutty, luxurious properties don't stop at hummus. Keep the sesame paste flowing with this bright red purée of boiled beets, lemon, and garlic. Get the recipe for Tahini-Beet Dip »

Helen Cathcart

Egyptian Flatbread (Aish Baladi)

Similar to pita, but made with whole wheat flour, this Egyptian flatbread is traditionally baked in scorching-hot ovens in Cairo's bustling markets. Home cooks can achieve similar results with a baking stone and an oven cranked to high.

Matt Taylor-Gross

Carrot-Tahini Dip

Tahini's nutty, luxurious properties don't stop at hummus. Keep the sesame paste flowing with this vibrant, creamy carrot purée. Get the recipe for Carrot-Tahini Dip »

Helen Cathcart

Egypt, recipe, sumac roast chicken

Egyptians love tart flavors like the bracing, floral herb sumac, which is rubbed all over this juicy chicken.

Helen Cathcart

Purslane and Herb Salad

Purslane, a sour-tasting green, forms the backbone of this refreshing herb salad from cookbook author Suzanne Zeidy, but watercress can be used in its place. Get the recipe for Purslane and Herb Salad »

Helen Cathcart

Grilled Vegetable and Barley Salad

Barley is typically eaten in a pudding for breakfast or dessert in Egypt, but in this recipe from cookbook author Suzanne Zeidy, it's turned into a hearty salad, seasoned with cumin and chiles, and tossed with grilled vegetables, feta, and pistachios. Get the recipe for Grilled Vegetable and Barley Salad »

Helen Cathcart

Veal and Pearl Onion B'stilla (North African Meat Pie)

B'stilla, a North African meat pie, is traditionally made with poultry. Cookbook author Suzanne Zeidy's take includes veal and caramelized pearl onions. When ordering the veal for this recipe, have your butcher remove the bone.

Get the recipe »

Helen Cathcart

Israeli Cous Cous with Ras el Hanout, Fennel and Carrot

Ras el hanout, the North African spice blend, along with fresh orange zest and juice, mint, and cilantro, give Israeli cous cous a fresh feel and flavor in this simple weeknight meal.

Farideh Sadeghin

Lamb Meatball and Egg Tagine

Cumin- and paprika-spiced kefta (lamb meatballs), baked eggs, and kalamata olives are the hallmarks of this elegant tagine from the Moroccan restaurant Le Timgad in Paris. Get the recipe for Kefta Tagine (Lamb Meatball and Egg Tagine) »

Landon Nordeman

Moroccan Charmoula

Vibrant, verdant, and refreshing, this Moroccan condiment is an exceptional marinade for most meat and seafood and addictive enough to eat with a spoon.

Marcus Nilsson

Moroccan Carrots with Aleppo Pepper and Mint

The dressing for this cumin-spiced salad is made from the carrots' cooking liquid, which concentrates into a sweet syrup when reduced. Get the recipe for Moroccan Carrots with Aleppo Pepper and Mint »

Neal Santos

Morels with Mint, Peas, and Shallot

Richard Kuo of New York City's Pearl & Ash uses preserved lemon, a Moroccan staple, to brighten this simple spring dish. Get the recipe for Morels with Mint, Peas, and Shallot »

Joseph De Leo


In North Africa, cooks have long relied on this garlicky chile paste to lend depth to cooked meats and vegetables.

André Baranowski

Lamb and Cauliflower Stew with Harissa

For this Middle Eastern–spiced stew, cauliflower stems are minced and sautéed in the mirepoix to add flavor, while the florets are broiled and added at the end of cooking to offer crunch and body.

Joseph De Leo

Couscous Royale

A plate of fluffy couscous is lavished with meatballs, lamb chops, chicken skewers, merguez sausage, and a saffron-scented chickpea stew in this celebratory dish, a staple at Moroccan restaurants in Paris.

Landon Nordeman

Algerian Crepes (Mahjouba)

A typical street snack in Algeria, these thick, flaky crepes are stuffed with a jammy tomato-based filling.

Get the recipe »

Todd Coleman

Honey-Braised Lamb Shanks (Mrouzia)

Lamb shanks are braised for hours in a sumptuous sauce of honey, almonds, and raisins in this centuries-old Moroccan dish served at the restaurant Mansouria. Get the recipe for Honey-Braised Lamb Shanks »

Landon Nordeman

Fried Almond Pastries (Samsa Feuille de Brick)

Sticky-sweet almond pastries drenched in a syrup of honey and orange flower water are typical of the rustic desserts of Tunisia.

Landon Nordeman

Stewed Fava Beans (Ful Medames)

Best known as Egypt's national dish, ful medames is a hearty stew of warmed fava beans stirred with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, usually eaten for breakfast.

Todd Coleman

Chicken, Olive, and Lemon Tagine (Djaj Mqualli)

Tagine, the Moroccan stew, shares its name with the terra-cotta pot it's traditionally cooked in, whose neat conical lid promotes convection and even cooking. There are many versions; maybe the most classic is braised chicken, green olives, and lemons in a sauce fragrant with ginger and coriander.

Todd Coleman

Casse-Croute Tunisien

Casse-Croute Tunisien, a North African take on a French pan bagnat, requires two hands and a big appetite.

Landon Nordeman

Roasted Pepper Salad (Mechwia)

This tart pepper relish from north Africa is a great topping for lamb kebabs and other sandwiches.

Michael Kraus

Moroccan Pasta Salad

The flavors of a richly spiced Moroccan tagine come together in this pasta salad, savory and bright with olive, lemon, and cinnamon. Get the recipe for Moroccan Pasta Salad »

Maxime Iattoni

Fish Balls in Tomato Sauce

A spicy tomato sauce injects bright flavor into these fish balls, a North African Jewish delicacy.

Todd Coleman


This aromatic, paprika-spiced sauce work as a dip, a marinade for fish, or a sauce for cooked vegetables.

André Baranowski

Chicken and Onion Tagine (Djej Besla)

Onions stew until soft and sweet in this satisfying one-pot chicken dish flavored with saffron, turmeric, lemon, and olives. Get the recipe for Chicken and Onion Tagine (Djej Besla) »

Todd Coleman

Charmoula-Stuffed Sardines

Fresh or canned sardines can be used in this spicy, crispy Moroccan snack. Eat 'em like french fries.

André Baranowski

Moroccan Pigeon Pie (B'stilla)

Pigeon is traditionally used to make this slightly sweet, savory Moroccan pie, but chicken thighs, quail, or Cornish game hens make excellent substitutes. Get the recipe for Moroccan Pigeon Pie (B'stilla) »

Andre Baranowski

Moroccan Meatballs with Arugula

These lamb meatballs are simmered in a harissa-spiked tomato sauce, served over peppery arugula, and drizzled with bright yogurt-thickened aïoli and roughly chopped basil leaves.

Ingalls Photography

Garlic and Dill Fava Bean Salad (Bagula)

Cumin and lemon bring a smoky and tart savoriness to this classic Egyptian bean dish.

Todd Coleman

Moroccan Potato Salad

Bright and aromatic with plenty of fresh parsley, this potato salad is definitive of Moroccan cuisine.

Helen Rosner


Phyllo pastry layered with ground nuts luxuriating in sweet syrup is a centuries-old dessert that now exists in many variations throughout the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean.

Todd Coleman

Moroccan Mint Tea

North African-style sweet tea braced with fresh mint is both soothing and stimulating.

Penny De Los Santos