Skip to main content

Tunisia: Chreime and Zrir #CookingAroundtheWorldAdventure

I have been embarrassingly remiss in planning and executing our Cooking Around the World Adventure. We started five years ago and made our way through over 175 countries; then, I stalled and haven't really done anything for two years! And we only have 18 more countries to cook.

And my Precise Kitchen Elf has requested that we, "please finish before college." Thank goodness he's only a freshman in high school! Still, I have renewed my commitment to cooking the world with my family. I told them we'd aim to finish before the end of this summer.

Just a reminder that these are not wholly traditional recipes. Our dishes are traditionally inspired, but we will use whatever ingredients are local to us. I hope that makes sense.

About Tunisia...
The smallest country in Northwestern Africa, Tunisia is located between Libya and Algeria. Nearly everyone in the country is Muslim; the official language of the country is Arabic. Before gaining its independence in the middle of the 20th century, Tunisia was part of the Carthage Empire, the Roman Empire, and a French colony from the late 19th century till its independence.

Fewer than 11 million people live in Tunisia where the average life expectancy is 74 years old. And the literacy rate is about 70 percent.

On the Plate...
For our dinner, I decided to make a version of Chreime, a Spicy Tunisian Seafood Stew. Typically it's fish braised in a chile-spiced tomato broth. I used calamari, shrimp, and mussels because that's what I had in my fridge. And I will never say 'no' to a dish that includes ten cloves of garlic!



  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled
  • 1/2 pound calamari, cleaned and cut into rings and tentacles
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and dried
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon from my parents' tree)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1⁄4 C olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 t red pepper chile flakes
  • 1 C diced tomatoes
  • 2 C fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1⁄4 C water

Combine shrimp and calamari in a mixing bowl. Pour in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Let stand while you heat a pan over medium heat.

Pour olive oil into the pan and add garlic and red pepper chile flakes. Cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until they are beginning to lose shape, approximately 2 minutes.

Stir in cilantro and pour in 1 ¼ cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the shrimp and calamari. Cook until pink and opaque. Nestle the mussels into the pan, cover, and simmer until they are fully opened, approximately 5 to 6 minutes.

Uncover and serve immediately.

This dish had just the right amount of heat. After we finished with the seafood, we slurped down the broth! Delicious.

"Are we going to have a Tunisian dessert?" asked the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf.

Yes. Of course, I said.

While they finished homework, I ran to the store to get the ingredients to make Tunisian Zrir, a dessert traditionally served to celebrate a newborn's birth. I picked it because it only included four ingredients: hazelnuts, sesame seeds, butter, and honey.



  • 2 C whole hazelnuts, dry roasted
  • 2 C white sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/3 C butter
  • 1/2 C honey (I used a local avocado honey)
  • 1/4 C blanched slivered almonds (optional), for garnish

In a large saucepan, melt together the honey and butter. Remove the pan from heat as soon as the honey and butter have liquified.

Place the toasted sesame seeds and hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor and grind until they turn into a paste or nut butter consistency.

Spoon the hazelnut-sesame butter into the pan with the melted butter and honey. Heat until it comes together. Once it begins to bubble, remove the pan from the heat and spoon into individual servings.

Garnish with slivered almonds before serving, if desired.

Jake noted that this was the first dessert I've ever made that he had the urge to eat slowly. Ever. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but it sounded positive. I found it too sweet. Everyone else loved it though the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf thought it was a little heavy on the sesame seeds. Next time we'll try it with 2 C hazelnuts and 1 C sesame seeds.

So, we learned a little bit about Tunisia. We made a main dish with local seafood. And we made a simple dessert. I'd call this a successful reintroduction to our Cooking Around the World Adventure. We're off to Turkey next! Stay tuned.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Quick Pickled Red Onions and Radishes

If you've been reading my blog for even a short amount of time, you probably know how much I love to pickle things. I was just telling a friend you can pickle - with vinegar - or you can ferment - with salt - for similar delicious effect. The latter has digestive benefits and I love to do that, but when I need that pop of sour flavor quickly, I whip up quick pickles that are ready in as little as a day or two. I've Pickled Blueberries , Pickled Asparagus , Pickled Cranberries , Pickled Pumpkin , and even Pickled Chard Stems ! This I did last night for an upcoming recipe challenge that requires I include radishes. Ummmm...of course I'm pickling them! Ingredients  makes 1 quart jar radishes, trimmed and sliced organic red onions, peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer) 3/4 C vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar) 3/4 C water 3 T organic granulated sugar 1 T salt (I used some grey sea salt) 6 to 8 grinds of black pepper Proce

Hot Chocolate Agasajo-Style {Spice It Up!}

photo by D For my Spice It Up! kiddos this week, I was looking for an exotic drink to serve while we learned about saffron. I found a recipe from food historian Maricel Presilla that mimicked traditional Spanish hot chocolate from the 17th century where it was served at lavish receptions called agasajos . When I teach, I don't always get to shoot photos. Thankfully, D grabbed my camera and snapped a few. Ingredients serves 14-16 1 gallon organic whole milk 3 T dried rosebuds - or 2 t rosewater 2 t saffron threads, lightly crushed 3 T ground cinnamon 3 whole tepin chiles, crushed 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise 1 C organic granulated sugar 1 lb. bittersweet chocolate Procedure In a large soup pot that can hold a gallon plus, combine milk, dried rosebuds (or rosewater, if you are using that), saffron threads, ground cinnamon, chiles, vanilla beans, and sugar and warm over medium heat till it steams. Whisk to dissolve sugar, then lower heat an

Aloo Tiki {Pakistan}

To start off our Pakistani culinary adventure, I started us off with aloo tiki - potato cutlets. I'm always game for tasty street food. I found a couple of different recipes and incorporated those together for this version. Ingredients 6-8 small red potatoes, scrubbed 1 T cumin seeds 1 T fresh chopped parsley 1/2 t ground coriander 1 t minced garlic Procedure Boil the potatoes until they are tender. Drain and let cool. Mash the potatoes. Traditionally they are mashed without their skins. I left the skins on. In a small pan, toast the cumin seeds on high heat until the begin to give off an aroma and begin to darken. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to keep them from cooking any more. Blend all of the spices into the mashed potatoes, then shape into small patties. If you wet your hands, the potato mixture won't stick to them. Heat a splash of oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Dip each patty into beaten egg and carefully place in the oil. P