North Africa

The countries of North Africa that border the Mediterranean Sea are largely Muslim countries. As a result, their diet reflects Islamic traditions. The religion of Islam does not permit eating pork or any animal product that has cuisine: types of food and traditions of preparation

North African cuisine reflects the Islamic traditions of the region. Here, a man cooks with traditional Moroccan tajines, conical clay pots used for lamb stews and curries. [Photograph by Owen Franken. Corbis. Reproduced by permission.]

not been butchered in accordance with the traditions of the faith. Like other regions of Africa, much of the diet is based on grains. However, cooking with olive oil, onions, and garlic is more common in the countries of North Africa. Notable spices include cumin, caraway, clove, and cinnamon. Flat breads are a common staple and can accompany any meal, including breakfast, which is usually porridge prepared from millet or chickpea flour. Couscous (made from hard wheat and millet) is often the main dish at lunch, which is the primary meal. This may be accompanied by vegetable salads. Other main dishes include tajine, named for the conical clay pot in which a whole meal is prepared. Lamb is cooked in tajines as well as on kabobs (roasted on a skewer). Vegetables include okra, meloukhia (spinach-like greens), and radishes. Common fruits are oranges, lemons, pears, and mandrakes. Legumes such as broad beans (fava beans), lentils, yellow peas, and black-eyed peas are also important staples. Alcoholic drinks are forbidden by Islamic tradition. Mint tea and coffee are very popular beverages in this region.

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