Berkoukes is an Algerian dish. It’s too chunky and thick to be considered a soup. But not quite a stew either. Maybe we should use the term “scoup” which is a brothy warm dish that’s a cross between a soup and a stew.
Berkoukes are made from several types of meats. Additionally, the dish consists of cubes of vegetables such as carrots, natural tomato sauce, paste, and turnip.
This is Algerian comfort food at its best, a winter must!
Berkoukes also called Aïche or M’hamessa or Abazine in some regions – is a hand-rolled semolina-based pasta that is shaped like a little ball, but it is also an Algerian dish.
This traditional Berber dish is prepared using very large-grained couscous, meat, and seasonal vegetables. The berkoukes grains are made from semolina durum wheat and are rolled by hand in a large dish (traditionally wood or earth, but most commonly nowadays metal).
Berboukes are the larger balls, while M’hamsa is the smaller balls. It is consumed traditionally in Algeria or the North East of Morocco during the winter and mainly in January to celebrate the wealth of the Algerian harvest of beans and dried fruit and meats.
It is a dish of rich wealth, comfort, and generosity. How it is prepared slightly varies from region to region, differently in 2 main ways. One prepares it in a savory dish or a sweetened version similar to rice pudding.
What To Serve With Berkoukes
Well, it depends on the region. In the areas in Kabylia, dried meats called Quedid or Achadhelouh in Kabyle are added and the dried mutton fat called Khlili and cultured smen give the Berkoukes of this region is very distinct flavor.
Berkoukes of the Alger region are much milder in flavor using either chicken or beef or mutton. And that the Oran region uses the pungent spices of the spice mixture called Ras el Hanout.
Some cooks make their berkoukes with a lot of sauce, making it like a soup while others prefer it with less sauce.
This dish is worth to be discovered because it is user-friendly and not complicated to prepare. Of course, there is a multitude of different recipes, all of which are a selection of vegetables, spices, and more or less.
A taste when it is very cold outside, hot, sprinkled with a drizzle of excellent olive oil with a good homemade Kesra/ Khoubz Ft’ir or even a Khoubz Chaïr.
Be sure to recreate this incredible delicacy that is not only delicious but also full of proteins, fiber, and tons of vitamins like iron and calcium needed for your body. Bon appétit!
- 500 g package of Berkoukes or small ball shaped pasta called "plomb"or "anci de pepe"
- 250 g beef cubed
- Handful about 100g Quedid diced ๑۞๑ (optional)
- 1 large onion minced
- 2 carrot diced medium
- 1 courgette diced medium
- 2-3 garlic minced
- 1 TBS tomato paste
- 1 large potato diced medium
- Harissa or dersa or any hot pepper paste to taste
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- pinch of ground caraway
- 1 bay leaf
- Half bunch about 1/4 cup chopped of chopped parsely and cilantro
- Generous handful or two of green peas
- Handful of precooked chickpeas
- Handful of brown lentils I use Puy
- olive oil/oil/smen
- salt/ black pepper
- Chop up the vegetable and meat(s)
- Brown the beef in oil. Once browned add in the aromatics - onions, garlic, carrots to sauté.
- Push all these ingredients to one side of your pot, add in the tomato paste. Caramelize the tomato paste for a minute or two.
- Then add in the water - about 2.5L
- Now add in the spices, bay leaf, and lentils and Quedid if using .
- Bring to boil, then lower the heat to a low simmer.
- Once the meat is cooked tender, add in the half the herbs, chickpeas, courgettes, potatoes to cook for an additional 10m.
- Then add in the peas and berkoukes into the broth.
- The berkoukes generally will cook in about 15m, but keep a watchful eye on it, as it can easily soak up all the broth then burn. Do not hesitate to stir frequently.
- Once the berkoukes is quite tender, not al-dente! - stir in the remaining herbs. There should still little thickened broth or really sauce.
- Serve hot with bread like a Kesra or any rustic country style bread like Khoubz chaïr or Khoubz Ezraa
Some cooks like to add diced turnips called luft in Algeria also.
You can use chickpea or lentils or even both in this dish. It depends on your preference and what you have on hand.