Our 28 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.

Syrup-Soaked Pastries with Hazelnuts, Pistachios, and Pine Nuts (Deblah)
Syrup-Soaked Pastries with Hazelnuts, Pistachios, and Pine Nuts (Deblah)
These crunchy pastry spirals are formed from a simple pasta-like dough, soaked in a light lemon syrup and sprinkled with a shower of mixed nuts. Get the recipe for Syrup-Soaked Pastries with Hazelnuts, Pistachios, and Pine Nuts (Deblah) »Matt Taylor-Gross
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
"There are as many ways to make gumbo in Louisiana as there are cooks," says chef Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen's restaurant in New Orleans, "but the thing they all have in common is the use of a roux." His rich, hearty version—a "filé gumbo" made with filé or ground sassafras leaves—uses oil leftover from browning chicken to make the roux, increasing the meaty flavor and complexity of the dish. Add the vegetables in two stages to provide different levels of taste and texture, and be sure to cook them until no longer stringy. (Note: Brigtsen's original recipe calls for rabbit, which you're welcome to use. We've adapted it for chicken here.) Get the recipe for Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo »Dan Dao
Braised Egyptian Greens With Crispy Chicken (Egyptian Molokhia)
Braised Egyptian Greens With Crispy Chicken (Egyptian Molokhia)
The name of this stew—named after the leafy green that's used to make it—is one of Egypt's most popular dishes. Molokhia, the grassy-tasting, green vegetable also known as jute or Jew's mallow, is occasionally available fresh at farmer's markets, but the frozen leaves are far easier to find. Look for them at Middle Eastern and North African grocery stores. Get the recipe for Braised Egyptian Greens With Crispy Chicken (Egyptian Molokhia) »Dan Q. Dao
Tunisian Braised Veal With Dried Greens (Tunisian Molokhia)
Tunisian Braised Veal With Dried Greens (Tunisian Molokhia)
The leafy, grassy-tasting green molokhia (also known as jute or Jew's mallow) is a vegetable widely used in its fresh or frozen state across North Africa and the Middle East, however Tunisians use a dried and finely ground version of the leaves to make this rich, hearty green stew. The powder has a mucilaginous thickening quality similar to okra or filé powder, giving the finished dish a silky consistency. Consider it a nourishing, restorative aphrodisiac. Look for dried molokhia at Middle Eastern and North African grocery stores, or online. Get the recipe for Tunisian Braised Veal With Dried Greens (Tunisian Molokhia) »Max Falkowitz
Tahini-Beet Dip
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)
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
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
Sumac Roast Chicken with Lemon and Garlic
Egypt, recipe, sumac roast chicken
Egyptians love tart flavors like the bracing, floral herb sumac, which is rubbed all over this juicy chicken. Get the recipe for Sumac Roast Chicken with Lemon and Garlic »Helen Cathcart
Purslane and Herb Salad
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
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)
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 for Veal and Pearl Onion B'stilla (North African Meat Pie) »Helen Cathcart
Israeli Cous Cous with Ras el Hanout, Fennel and Carrot
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. Get the recipe for Israeli Cous Cous with Ras el Hanout, Fennel and Carrot »Farideh Sadeghin
Kefta Tagine (Lamb Meatball and Egg Tagine)
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
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. Get the recipe for Moroccan Charmoula »Marcus Nilsson
Moroccan Carrots with Aleppo Pepper and Mint
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
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
Harissa
Harissa
In North Africa, cooks have long relied on this garlicky chile paste to lend depth to cooked meats and vegetables. Get the recipe for Harissa »André Baranowski
Lamb and Cauliflower Stew with Harissa
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. Get the recipe for Lamb and Cauliflower Stew with Harissa »Joseph De Leo
Couscous Royale
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. Get the recipe for Couscous Royale »Landon Nordeman
Algerian Crepes (Mahjouba)
Algerian Crepes (Mahjouba)
A typical street snack in Algeria, these thick, flaky crepes are stuffed with a jammy tomato-based filling. Get the recipe for Algerian Crepes (Mahjouba) »Todd Coleman
Honey-Braised Lamb Shanks (Mrouzia)
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)
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. Get the recipe for Fried Almond Pastries (Samsa Feuille de Brick) »Landon Nordeman
Stewed Fava Beans (Ful Medames)
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. Get the recipe for Stewed Fava Beans (Ful Medames) »Todd Coleman
Casse-Croute Tunisien
Casse-Croute Tunisien
Casse-Croute Tunisien, a North African take on a French pan bagnat, requires two hands and a big appetite. Get the recipe for Casse-Croute Tunisien »Landon Nordeman
Moroccan Pasta Salad
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
Charmoula-Stuffed Sardines
Charmoula-Stuffed Sardines
Fresh or canned sardines can be used in this spicy, crispy Moroccan snack. Eat 'em like french fries. Get the recipe for Charmoula-Stuffed Sardines »André Baranowski
Moroccan Pigeon Pie (B'stilla)
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
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. Get the recipe for Moroccan Meatballs with Arugula »Ingalls Photography