ALGERIA- Harissa Lamb and Couscous

Algeria has a history of rule by outsiders- at various points under the control of  the Roman Empire, Muslim Conquistadors, and local tribal dynasties, which ruled up until 1830, when the French invaded and colonised the country. The cuisine of Algeria is also something of a palimpsest, building on the influence of the various nations under whose rule it has fallen, including the Berber’s who first introduced, the national dish of couscous to the country!

The Algerian national football team itself has only existed since 1963, following the nation’s independence from France in 1962. Since then the ‘Fennec Foxes’ have had a pretty good record, having qualified for the World Cup finals in 1982, 1986, 2010 and 2014.

Their greatest moment, so far, came at the 1982 World Cup, when they shocked much fancied West Germany 2-1 in their opening group match. Unfortunately this also led to one of the low points of World Cup history- when in the final game of the group stages, and with Algeria in a position to qualify, Germany and Austria played out a match which has become known as the ‘Disgrace of Gijon’.

With Algeria having played their final match a day earlier, a win by one or two goals for West Germany would mean both them and Austria would qualify at Algeria’s expense. The Germans took a 1-0 lead after 10 minutes, and thereafter the match was played with few scoring chance created, giving the impression that the result was agreed before the match. Although FIFA dismissed Algeria’s protest, in subsequent World Cups all final group stage matches have been played simultaneously.


2 lamb leg steaks
2 tbsp harissa paste
100g dry couscous
Roast veg- red pepper, onion, spring onion, aubergine.
160ml boiling water
Drizzle olive oil

1. Spoon 1 tbsp harissa paste into a jug of boiling water.
2. Pour over the couscous in a large serving bowl.
3. Cover and stand for 5 mins.
4. Chop and roast vegetables for 10 minutes at 200deg with a drizzle of oil and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Fluff with a fork.
5. Season lamb, then fry for 1 min each side in a frying pan.
6. Spread remaining harissa paste over the lamb.
7. Cook for 2 more minutes on each side, remove from pan and rest for 5minutes.
9. Slice lamb and serve on top of the couscous.


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