How to Cook North African Street Food: Authentic Recipes for Savory and Spicy Snacks

Introduction: Exploring the Rich Flavors of North African Street Food

As a food enthusiast and content creator, I have always been fascinated by the diverse culinary traditions of the world. One of my personal favorites is the vibrant and flavorful street food of North Africa. From the bustling souks of Marrakech to the seaside stalls of Tunis, the region is renowned for its aromatic spices, fresh herbs, and bold flavors.

My love for North African street food began during a backpacking trip through Morocco, where I sampled everything from savory tagines and fluffy couscous to crispy falafel and sweet pastries. Since then, I have explored the cuisine further, experimenting with authentic recipes and putting my own spin on traditional dishes.

In this article, I will share some of my favorite North African street food recipes, perfect for anyone looking to add some spice and variety to their culinary repertoire. Whether you are a seasoned chef or a beginner cook, these dishes are easy to make and sure to impress.

The Rich History of North African Street Food

North African cuisine has a long and rich history, shaped by a variety of cultural influences over thousands of years. From the Berber tribes of the Atlas Mountains to the Arab conquerors of the Middle Ages, the region’s food has been shaped by migration, trade, and conquest.

Today, North African street food is a reflection of this complex history, blending indigenous ingredients with flavors from the Mediterranean, Middle East, and beyond. From the fiery harissa of Tunisia to the fragrant ras el hanout of Morocco, each dish tells a story of the region’s diverse cultural heritage.

Ingredients for North African Street Food

North African street food is a mouth-watering combination of spices, meats, vegetables, and grains. The flavors are bold, savory, and spicy. Here are some of the key ingredients used in North African street food:

Spices and Herbs

Spices and herbs are the heart and soul of North African cuisine. They add depth, complexity, and flavor to every dish. Some of the most commonly used spices and herbs in North African street food include:

  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Coriander
  • Paprika
  • Harissa
  • Za’atar
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro

Meats and Proteins

Meats and proteins are a staple in North African street food. They are often grilled, roasted, or stewed, and served with a variety of spices and herbs. Some of the most popular meats and proteins used in North African street food include:

  • Lamb
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Eggs

Vegetables and Grains

Vegetables and grains are an important part of North African street food. They are often used as a base for stews, salads, and side dishes. Some of the most popular vegetables and grains used in North African street food include:

  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Chickpeas
  • Couscous
  • Bulgar
  • Rice

With these ingredients, you can create a multitude of delicious North African street food dishes. Experiment with different combinations of spices, meats, vegetables, and grains to find your favorite flavors.

Savory North African Street Food Recipes

North African street food is known for its bold flavors and unique spices. Here are some authentic recipes for savory and spicy snacks that will transport your taste buds to the bustling streets of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.


Shakshuka is a popular North African breakfast dish that has gained popularity all over the world. It is a tomato-based sauce with poached eggs, peppers, onions, and spices. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add chopped onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Cook until softened.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices (cumin, paprika, and chili powder). Cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Crack eggs into the sauce and cover the skillet. Cook until the eggs are set.
  5. Serve with crusty bread or pita.

Kefta Tagine

Kefta Tagine is a popular Moroccan street food dish that consists of meatballs in a tomato-based sauce. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Mix ground beef with chopped onions, parsley, and spices (cumin, paprika, and cinnamon).
  2. Form the mixture into small meatballs.
  3. Heat olive oil in a tagine or a skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add the meatballs and cook until browned on all sides.
  5. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices (cumin, paprika, and cinnamon). Cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Serve with couscous or bread.


Falafel is a popular street food in Tunisia and Algeria. It is made of ground chickpeas and spices, formed into balls or patties, and deep-fried. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Soak chickpeas overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to a food processor.
  3. Add chopped onions, garlic, parsley, and spices (cumin, coriander, and chili powder). Pulse until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Form the mixture into balls or patties.
  5. Deep-fry until golden brown.
  6. Serve with tahini sauce or hummus.


Brik is a popular Tunisian street food that consists of a crispy pastry shell filled with egg, tuna, and harissa. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Whisk eggs with chopped parsley, tuna, and harissa.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the egg mixture and cook until set.
  4. Place the egg mixture on a pastry sheet and fold it into a triangle.
  5. Deep-fry until golden brown.
  6. Serve hot.
Recipe Country of Origin
Shakshuka Israel/Morocco/Tunisia
Kefta Tagine Morocco
Falafel Tunisia/Algeria
Brik Tunisia

Spicy North African Street Food Recipes

If you are a fan of bold and spicy flavors, then North African street food is the perfect cuisine for you. From harissa chicken skewers to chermoula fish, these dishes are packed with aromatic spices and herbs that will tantalize your taste buds. Here are some authentic recipes for savory and spicy North African street food snacks that you can easily make at home.

Harissa Chicken Skewers

Harissa is a North African spice paste that is made with chili peppers, garlic, and other spices. These harissa chicken skewers are perfect for a summer barbecue or a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp. harissa paste
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 8 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together harissa paste, olive oil, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Add chicken cubes to the bowl and toss to coat with the spice mixture.
  4. Thread chicken cubes onto the soaked wooden skewers.
  5. Grill the skewers for 6-8 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through.

Merguez Sausage Rolls

Merguez sausage is a spicy and flavorful North African sausage that is made with lamb or beef. These merguez sausage rolls are perfect for a party or a quick snack.

  • 1 lb. merguez sausage, removed from the casing
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured surface.
  3. Spread the merguez sausage over the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides.
  4. Roll up the puff pastry, starting at the long side, and pinch the edges to seal.
  5. Brush the top of the pastry with the beaten egg.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the sausage is cooked through.


Zaalouk is a Moroccan salad made with roasted eggplant and tomatoes. This salad is perfect as a side dish or as a dip with pita bread.

  • 2 large eggplants, roasted and peeled
  • 4 large tomatoes, roasted and peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  1. Chop the roasted eggplant and tomatoes into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add minced garlic, olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt, and black pepper to the bowl and mix well.
  3. Let the salad sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  4. Sprinkle chopped parsley over the top before serving.

Chermoula Fish

Chermoula is a North African marinade that is made with cilantro, parsley, garlic, and spices. This chermoula fish recipe is perfect for a healthy and flavorful dinner.

  • 4 fish fillets (halibut, cod, or tilapia)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsleyConclusion

    Cooking North African street food is a delightful way to explore the diverse and rich culinary traditions of this region. Whether you are a seasoned cook or a beginner, these authentic recipes for savory and spicy snacks are sure to impress your taste buds and those of your guests.

    Experiment with Flavors and Ingredients

    North African cuisine is renowned for its bold and complex flavors, which are a result of the many influences that have shaped it over the centuries. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices and ingredients to create your own unique twist on these classic recipes.

    Master the Art of Grilling

    Grilling is an essential cooking technique in North African street food, and mastering it will take your dishes to the next level. Be sure to use a high-quality grill and learn the proper techniques for marinating and cooking meats and vegetables.

    Enjoy the Experience

    Finally, remember that cooking and eating North African street food is about more than just the flavors and techniques. It is a social and cultural experience that brings people together and celebrates the richness of this region’s heritage. So, enjoy the process, savor the flavors, and share the experience with others.

    Recipe Preparation Time Cooking Time
    Harissa Chicken Skewers 15 minutes 12 minutes
    Brik with Tuna and Egg 20 minutes 10 minutes
    Moroccan Lamb Kebabs 20 minutes 10 minutes

    With these tips and recipes, you are well on your way to becoming a master of North African street food. So, fire up the grill, gather your friends and family, and enjoy the delicious flavors of this vibrant and diverse cuisine.

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