Tunisian Makrouna

    One of the most common dishes to cook in Tunisia is Tunisian Makrouna. If you ever visit Tunisia make sure to visit some local restaurants that can offer a great authentic pasta, especially if you go downtown where the most famous traditional Pasta restaurants are located

    This pasta is one of the most important dishes that Tunisian mothers teach their daughters. It is a traditional dish that is made in almost every house in Tunisia.

    Origin of Makrouna

    It should come as no surprise that Italy ranks number one in world pasta consumption (per capita), but do you know which country takes second prize in this honorable title? Tunisia, That’s right!

    Tunisians consumed 16 kg of pasta per capita in 2014, behind Italy’s 25.3. That’s a lot of gluten! If you’re not familiar with Tunisia, it’s located on the Mediterranean Sea, nestled between Algeria and Libya in North Africa, and just southwest of Italy’s Sicily.

    Over time, many civilizations left their imprint on the region’s culture, including the language, religion, and of course, the cuisine. While makrouna looks somewhat Italian in appearance, the flavors are distinctly North African.

    Every culture has a culinary staple- whether it’s rice, beans, pasta, or something else. Couscous may get all the attention as Tunisia’s national dish, but makrouna is the silent star, feeding families regularly all across the country from north to south, east to west.

    It’s not particularly grandiose but it’s nourishing and comforting.

    Tunisian Makrouna Recipe

    To make this lovely dish, start by heating oil over medium-high heat in a large pot, and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, and garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

    Stir in the tomato paste and harissa to taste, add the tabil and bay leaf, and season with salt. Cover with 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer.

    Pasta is then boiled in a different pot which is later added to the sauce. Transfer to a dish to cool.

    Leftovers can be Stored in an airtight container for up to one month.

    Be Sure to Try These Other Authentic Tunisian Dishes!

    Be sure to recreate this incredible delicacy. Bon appétit!

    Tunisian Makrouna (aka Tunisian Pasta)

    Recipe by Rimeh
    Tunisian Pasta is one of the most famous dishes in Tunisia. The Tunisian sauce for pasta is different from the others. It is mostly based on canned tomatoes and spices. This pasta is considered one of the basic dishes to learn in the Tunisian cuisine.
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 45 minutes
    Course Dinner, Lunch
    Cuisine Tunisian
    Servings 4


    • 6 garlic cloves
    • 1 and 1/2 tsp ground coriander Check notes
    • 1 tsp of Turmeric
    • 1/3 cup of olive oil
    • 4 tbsp tomato paste
    • 1 can tomato sauce optional
    • 1 teaspoon harissa or paprika if harissa is not available
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 1 lb of Chicken Thighs or drumsticks Check notes
    • 4 tbsps of chickpeas optional
    • 4 tbsp of sweet peas optional
    • 3 cups of hot water
    • 1 Pound of pasta of your choice


    • In a small food processor add the garlic, coriander, salt, and tomato paste, and then grind them together. (This will allow the spices and the garlic to release the flavor in the tomato paste).
    • In a large pot in medium heat, add the olive oil, wait for a minute or two for the oil to heat a little bit but not too much. Then, add the garlic and spices mix. Mix it well then add the chickpeas, peas, chicken, and bay leaves. Mix it well for about 3 minutes so that the chicken gets marinated and the tomato paste looses its sourness.
    • Add the tomato sauce and one cup of hot water. Let the sauce heat for about 4 minutes and then add the rest of the water.
    • Cook for about 40 minutes or till the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened a bit.
    • Cook the pasta according to package instructions, then add as much sauce as you desire. Mix it well. Then, add the rest of the sauce and top it with the chicken and some chickpeas and peas.


    If you have Tunisian Bzar (a Tunisian spice) you can use that instead of the ground coriander.
    You can replace chicken with any other type of meat desired (ex: shrimp, beef, meatballs, …). If shrimp was used, you need about 1 bag of small shrimp shell and tail removed.
    If you don’t have a small food processor, you can mince the garlic and then mix it with the rest of the ingredients.
    When mixing the pasta and the sauce, remember to remove the bay leaves.
    For a prettier and more delicious pasta you can add some fries and fried peppers on top.
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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