Algeria is a North African country bordered by Tunisia and Libya to the East, Niger and Mali to the South, Mauritania to the South-West and Morocco to the West. The Mediterranean Sea creates a border between Algeria and it’s northern neighbours Spain and France. Algeria has a long history of invasions that have contributed to the rich culture that it has today. It comes as no surprise that the cuisine of Algeria is a deep and interesting mix of North African (Berber), Turkish, Arab, Roman, Spanish and French.
“Flag of Algeria (1958-1962)” by User:Escondites – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Every region of Algeria has recipe variations or certain dishes only found there. But perhaps the most well known Algerian dishes are couscous, marguez sausage, shakshouska, chorba and the traditional mint tea. Algerian cuisine makes great use of aromatic spices and without them the cuisine wouldn’t be the uniquely robust flavourful one that it is. Dishes can range from mild to spicy. It’s location allows for an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables as well as a good deal of lamb.
I’m not too familiar with Algerian food, so after much research I settled on an easy dish called bourek or borek or burek. (These are also eaten in neighbouring Tunisia and known as brik) The best word I can use to describe them is an Algerian version of eggrolls… The wrapper used is paper thin and called warka or brik. Fillings can vary greatly as can the method of wrapping or folding. Some people roll them up so they resemble egg rolls and others shape into triangles or fold the sheet over like an empanada.
After looking at many recipes I decided to make a general version of the tuna filling. Most recipes call for stuffing with a raw egg then deep frying, I found that method much too complicated for my novice hands. Instead I used the tuna filling and both deep fried and baked the boureks. I’ve made them a couple of times and also varied the shape to see which was easiest — the rolled up ones! Unfortunately my local store did not carry the traditional brik wrappers so I had to use Turkish yufka wrappers instead, which worked well. To make a complete meal out of the boureks I served them with a carrot salad that had French touches. When I lived in Paris I use to eat a similar salad and thought it would pair great with the boureks.
- 2 regular sized cans of tuna in water, drained
- 1 small onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
- handful finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 2 tbsp small capers, roughly chopped
- 1 small lemon, juiced
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- large pinch of dry minced garlic
- red chile flakes, to taste
- 1 tsp couscous spice mix
- triangle shaped Yufka sheets (find them here)*
- 1 egg lightly beaten, for egg wash
- 1 extra large carrot, shredded
- 1 small green onion, thinly sliced
- large handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- juice of one small lemon
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or good quality olive oil
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- raisins to taste**
- Heat the oven to 200c or 392f and prepare a baking sheet. Mix all of the ingredients, except the yukfa sheets and egg, until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
- Place about 1-2 tbsp of tuna filling onto the wide part of the wrapper as shown in the pictures. If you'd like brush the edges of the wrapper with egg wash to help seal the dough tighter. Fold and roll the bourek to make a pocket like that of an egg roll (see pictures). Brush the top of the rolled bourek with egg wash and place on baking sheet, continue until all of the tuna has been used. Bake in centre of oven for 20 min. or until crispy and browned. Allow to cool slightly before eating.
- It is a good idea to prepare the salad while the bourek are in the oven or beforehand, this will give the flavours time to come together nicely. Mix all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl, taste and adjust anything if necessary. Place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before serving.
**A variation to the raisins is dried figs. Simply chop a few up and toss them with the rest of the ingredients.
These rolls taste incredibly good! It’s lemony and you can taste the tuna, capers, parsley and spices; just a great combination. I’ve made them twice already and both times my husband sneaks in to grab one before I’m even ready to serve. Bourek are definitely a fun food to add to our meal rotation, I hope you add them to yours too. Oh, and let’s not forget about the carrot salad. This too has an amazing taste. The tangy lemons compliment the sweetness from the raisins and carrots. This salad is a great one to serve on the side of many dishes.
I didn’t find any interesting cookbooks on Algerian cuisine, but I did find these great blogs Nana’s Tasty Traditions and The Teal Tadjine.
Enjoy both of the recipes and don’t forget to check out the previous Earth Eats instalments!
Mmmhhh, delicious! I love North African food.
Joanne T Ferguson says
G’day! Gorgeous photos and recipe Nancy!
I love learning more about all world cuisines and could go for trying one of these right now!
Gourmet Getaways says
Looks so neat on the outside and flavourful on the inside! I think you did a great job :)
Delightful to learn a little about Algerian cooking!! I have laughed the longest for loving Moroccan cooking forever, learnt the great finesse of Tunisian during passing time and, somehow, leaving Algerian ‘stuck’ right in the middle! Well, you have begun to make a difference!!
Borek and salad looks just amazing! Never had tuna in a borek before, I must give it a try. YUM!
What a fantastic looking dish! I would love to try it. :)
I do appreciate your culinary adventures.
I don’t which I like more – the bourek or the carrot and raisin salad. What a nice meal!
Victoria of Flavors of the Sun says
Every year when I go to Morocco, I search out interesting boureks (or briks, as they are often called there). This one may win the prize–these look fabulous and I can imagine the carrot salad is just perfect with them.
Thalia @ butter and brioche says
I have never heard of Algerian Bourek before! What a delicious recipe.. these look so good!
Hi Nancy, thank you for the recipe. I actually live in Algeria (although I’m not Algerian) and I was looking for a tuna borek recipe. I only make borek once a year – to go with chorba during Ramadan. The filling was very tasty, but I’m afraid I shallow fried mine! You just don’t get the same crunchy effect if you bake them in the oven. Saha Ramdanek!
Spicie Foodie says
My pleasure and thank you for trying my recipe. You are so right, baking just does not achieve that wonderful crunch.:)
Happy Ramadan! (sorry I’m not sure what is appropriate to say, but you get the intention.)