These 15 Tunisian Recipes Will Add Big, Bold Flavors to Your Mediterranean Diet

Thanks to their close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, nations in the Middle East, Southern Europe, and North Africa share many culinary themes. But while they include overlapping dishes, the cuisines of these countries also inhabit their own unique spaces. The North African nation of Tunisia features a food tradition that will seem largely familiar to fans of Mediterranean fare, but the Tunisian affinity for bold spices and powerful heat quotients gives this country's cuisine a personality all its own. If you're a fan of the Mediterranean diet, you''ll love these delicious, top-rated Tunisian recipes.

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Tunisian Harissa

Chicken with Harissa
Chicken with Harissa. Meredith

"Harissa is a homemade pepper paste that is sure to add an extra kick to just about anything and is widely used in Tunisian cuisine," says Asma Khalfaoui of this powerful yet versatile condiment. "I add it to anything I want to spice up; in my home, we use this just about everyday."

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Chakchouka (Shakshouka)

cast iron skillet with homemade Chakchouka (Shakshouka) eggs cooked in spicy tomato sauce

Chakchouka, also known as "shakshuka," is a breakfast staple throughout the Mediterranean region. This baked tomato-and-egg dish traditionally goes by the name of ojja in Tunisia, and Tunisian chefs and home cooks often add lamb sausage (merguez) to the recipe, along with hearty doses of harissa hot sauce.

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Lamb Merguez Sausage Patties

Lamb Merguez Sausage Patties
Photo by Allrecipes Magazine.

Because Tunisia is a majority Muslim country, pork sausage isn't commonly utilized there. Instead, many Tunisian households enjoy merguez, a spicy sausage made with ground lamb. "The spices pop and using the ground lamb adds a welcome wrinkle to the tried and true," says Fran Moran says of these merguez patties. "One of the best burgers we've grilled." Tuck them into a pita or between two burger buns, add to eggs, or serve over cauliflower rice...the possibilities are endless!

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Tastira (Tunisian Fried Peppers and Eggs)


This vegetarian Tunisian dish is built around sauteed peppers and tomatoes. Topped with an over-easy egg, it makes a healthy, Mediterranean diet-friendly lunch or dinner.

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Tajin Sibnekh

A baked egg dish akin to a strata or a crustless quiche, tajin typically includes vegetables, herbs, and meats. This recipe, inspired by recipe creator Asma Khalfaoui's mother-in-law, contains chicken, spinach, potatoes, and peas, and it is seasoned with ras el hanout (a North African spice blend comprised of cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and many others).

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Chorba Hamra bel Frik

Chorba Hamra bel Frik (Algerian Lamb, Tomato, and Freekeh Soup)
Chorba Hamra bel Frik (Algerian Lamb, Tomato, and Freekeh Soup). Allrecipes

Chorba is a substantial stew with meat, vegetables, and spices. This recipe is attributed to Algerian cuisine, but Tunisian households also regularly consume this dish, especially during Ramadan. In Tunisia, chorba will often include vermicelli (thin pasta), a nod to the sizable population of Italian immigrants in 19th-century Tunisia.

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Tunisian Pasta with Lentils (Hlalem)

Tunisian Pasta with Lentils (Hlalem)
Tina Kauffman

Hlalem is a hearty vegetarian Tunisian dish of pasta with lentils that is satisfying and delicious. This particular recipe utilizes spaghetti, but for a traditionally Tunisian rendition, try it with vermicelli.

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Tunisian Kaftaji

Tunisian Kaftaji

Packed with hearty vegetables like potato, squash, and zucchini, kaftaji (or kafteji) works beautifully as a side dish. To turn this sauteed-veggie treat into a main course, serve it with lamb, chicken, or fish (or just top it with an egg!).

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25-Minute Tunisian Vegetable Couscous

The popularity of couscous in Mediterranean cuisines can't be overstated. Recipe submitter agirlandagun says of this Tunisian-inspired version: "What I love about this recipe is the practicality: it is both quick to make and can wait for you; there's no hurry to serve. It's also a satisfying vegetarian meal that even carnivores love, or, if a member of your household prefers meat, a poached chicken breast can be added."

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Bissara, a rich soup made with fava beans, can be found on menus throughout North Africa. This recipe provides an appealing canvas ripe for customization; to give your bissara a distinctly Tunisian tweak, season it with a generous swirl of harissa.

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Tunisian Lamb with Saffron (Keleya Zaara)

Saffron, an herb with floral notes and distinct earthiness, appears throughout Mediterranean dishes, including this Tunisian lamb entree. Served alongside couscous, rice, or tastira, keleya zaara makes a delicious and satisfying main course.

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Mama Marie's Tuna Brik

Mama Marie's Moroccan Tuna Brik

The handheld baked dough parcels known as brik are beloved staples of North African cooking. This particular recipe draws inspiration from Morocco, but brik with seafood fillings can be found all over the Mediterranean, including in Tunisia.

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Cornes de Gazelle

Gazelle Horns, a North African cookie
Photo by Allrecipes. Allrecipes

Because Tunisia was a French protectorate in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it's easy to observe French influences in many aspects of Tunisian cuisine. Cornes de gazelle, moon-shaped cookies with orange blossom-scented almond filling, serve as prime examples of French-accented treats with distinctly Tunisian flavors.

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Baklava, a pastry made from flaky dough, honey, and chopped nuts, is ubiquitous throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and Tunisian dessert makers frequently whip up these sweet confections.

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A dish with French and Italian roots, sabayon is an egg-based custard that's chilled to create a firm, refreshing dessert. Italian immigrants popularized this treat in Tunisia, where chefs typically replace the marsala wine with orange blossom water and vanilla extract and allow the finished product to chill to a colder temperature than European sabayon (almost as cold as ice cream).

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