Day 4 The Cooking Class

Tunisian Proverb: The bald woman boasts of her sister’s hair.

We get home with our fresh vegetables, fish and spices. Its the time of day when working people are starting to go home and we discover Madame Rabaa’s warm personality and hospitality is not kept just for paying guests. We are all gathered in the huge kitchen ready and eager to learn about Tunisian cooking and while Madame Rabaa is talking and giving us instructions friends of all ages just walk in to the house, fish around in the fridge to something, sit themselves down, join in what we are doing and after a while take their leave. There is a constant flow of friends in and out of the house. No disruption, its all just part of a normal evening at this family’s home.

We learnt to make Brik, stuffed calamari and a vegetable dish. Here are the recipes.


We used cooked ckicken cut into small pieces, diced potatoes, 1/3 cup olive oil, chopped onions and parsley, pepper, 1tbsp salt, 1/3 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp ginger. Cook all of this and mash. Prepare the dough, decide the shapes you want and make folders. Add cream cheese to the mashed mixture and some raw eggs. Mix and place spoons full on the Brik dough. Fold over. Keep damp by covering them with a wet tea towel. When the oil is hot deep fry till golden brown. The healthier option is to bake in a hot oven.

The Brik dough is phyllo.

Stuffed calamari

Mix cooked rice, parsley, chopped calamari wings, lots of dried mint, coriander,
2 tbsp Harissa, 2,5tsp sea salt, pepper, 1,5 tsp turmeric and 1/2 cup olive oil. Mix well and stuff into calamari tubes ‘sealing’ with a toothpick.

Sauce: Heat olive oil, add chopped onions, 2tbsp tomato paste, a little water, salt, pepper and garlic. Add the stuffed calamari to this as well as a tbsp saffron and more water. Cook for about 30 minutes.

Vegetable dish

Put chopped spinach, onions and parsley into olive oil and sauté. Add chopped dill, tomato paste, 1 tbsp Harissa, salt and pepper, coriander, garlic, peas, 4 carrots, chopped turnip, and boil over low heat. Towards end add zucchini and whole chillis. Chillis are not hot when left whole and removed whole before serving.

With all the cooking done, the dinner table is set by some of the friends still hanging around. They also made a mixed salad. Then we all move to the table to enjoy the food. Here every dish is served separately as if each dish is a course on its own.

When the dishes were empty and we all felt like stuffed calamari, the table was cleared, dishes washed and we all sat around that table again, talking till way after midnight.

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