Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shorba from Tunisia with Sondes Baccar

This past December I made a trip to Tunisia. On their first anniversary of revolution, it was a privilege to be spending my New Year's with them. Apart from Tunis, managed to visit some interiors too especially Sidi Bouzid where it all started when a young vegetable seller set himself on fire - Bouazizi.

Food is such an integral part of our lives, we are of course what we eat but on a journey like this into unknown lands lodging with unknown people - there can be many surprises, especially for vegetarians like me! Tunisians love spice, especially chilli peppers in a paste form called Harissa, reminds me so much of my own Telugu heritage with Korivikaram, a similar chilli paste condiment. Except they add caraway seeds to it. Olives, Figs, Dates, Oranges are common. Baguettes abound. So does Couscous. French fries accompany most orders and Mint tea is a must!

After a long trip down south I fell sick just a day before flying out with all the travel and lack of protein - no dal, so Ikram took me home to recuperate while her mother Sondes cooked me a wonderful lentil, pasta, vegetable, spicy soup, which along with a good night's rest helped me recover instantly!!

Here is a video I took of her telling me how to, it is in Tunisian which is a mix of Arabic, Berber and French. Not too hard to figure out though.

Basically you take Olive oil, add Garlic if you want, Turmeric, Chilli Powder, Garam Masala or Tunisian spice if you have it, Tomato Paste - canned or fresh, Leeks, Celery Leaves, Fennel, Carrots, Orzo pasta (or that special pasta which looks like rice grains that Tunisian women make at home for Shorba), let it all boil slowly in water, add cooked lentils and or cooked garbanzo/chick peas to the Brass pot. The material of the pot is the key to a great tasting Shorba, don't expect to replicate it with just any vessel! Happy Shorbaing!!