ALGERIA: Pastries and dates

I feel really lucky that not only is my randomly-chosen country of the month a country renowned for its good food, but I also picked a Muslim country during Ramadan. It’s a beautiful time of celebration, and to a food-lover like me, that means there’s some really great holiday treats available right now! Here in Ottawa, you can order fast delivery of handmade pastries from Bahdja Market. They’ve got a huge variety – the downside for me is my pistachio allergy, which closes off a lot of good options, but I snagged some really special almond-based treats instead!

Qalb el Louz – This is the OG of Algerian sweets – a square of dense sweet almond and semolina cake with a strong orange blossom flavour and dripping with simple syrup. It’s sticky and chewy and doesn’t even pretend to be healthy – it’s fantastic. Comments online say it’s best served with mint tea, which seems like a lovely balance to the richness of the cake.

Dziriyat – A small but very dense pastry with also made from almonds and semolina, though it’s completely distinct from the qalb el louz. It’s sweet without being cloying and really delicious – there’s a lovely honey flavour with a bit of a lemony zip to it.

Oasis Algerian Deglet Nour datesDeglet Nour is a highly sought-after varietal of date that Algeria is famous for. These dates are lighter in colour and have a delicate honey taste – there’s something fruity and complex on the tongue as well, almost like quince. Even for someone who is not particularly a date connoisseur, I can tell these are a very nice treat.

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