Tunisian Vegetable Stew

File this recipe under "makes your house smell like a Berber spice market." Tantalizing, no? This dish is a lovely Tunisian vegetable stew from one of my favorite cookbooks. I've made it a few times myself and have even coerced my Mom into preparing it at home during one of my visits.

Tunisian cuisine is an exotic blend of Mediterrean and desert ingredients. According to good ol' Wikipedia, lots of cultures have had an influence on its food: from Phoenicians, Arabs, and Turks to the French and the aforementioned Berbers. When you add all those together, you get tasty concoctions seasoned with coriander, cinnamon, hot peppers, and citrus. Of course, they're best served with a side of couscous, the national dish of Tunisia.

Tunisian Vegetable Stew
From  Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced cabbage
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup currants or raisins (I had both, so I used a combination)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Feta cheese
  • Cooked couscous (I used whole wheat)
In a large skillet, saute the onions in the olive oil for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the cabbage, sprinkle with salt, and continue to saute for at least 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell pepper, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne to the skillet and saute for another minute or so. Stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas, and currents and/or raisins, and simmer, covered, about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender. Add the lemon juice. Serve on couscous topped with feta.