The countries of North Africa : Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Libya and Egypt, are also known as the Maghreb – in Arabic, “where the sun sets”. While North Africa is but a region of the African continent, this region is incredibly diverse within itself. From the tropical coast to the parched desert to the peaks of the Atlas Mountains, these varied climates influence the cuisine as much as the cultures of each country.
Spices like cloves, ginger, cinnamon and allspice are combined with chiles, coriander, sumac and turmeric in varied ways for an always pleasing combination of warm, sour and pungent flavors. Ras al Hanout and Baharat are popular spice blends. Harissa, the bold hot chili pepper paste, originates in Tunisia. Another favorite blend is Berbere, the backbone of Ethiopian cooking known for its firey, bright red color and its smoky, spicy flavor. Couscous, tagines, rice and bulgur wheat are staples and Merguez sausage and lamb are popular meats. From a brightly colored countryside to snow capped mountains to miles of sandy desert, one thing is common in North Africa; bold spice.