A taste of home – Algerian style

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Bahia Lynch is an expert on couscous – she learned how to cook it as a child in Algiers, and her mum still makes it by hand.

Now Bahia is bringing a flavour of her native cuisine to her adopted home of Sheffield, launching a new catering business with friend Liz Kettle.

Absolutely CousCous will serve the dish as it is meant to be enjoyed – using raw materials made by Bahia’s mum.

“A lot of people think couscous is a grain like bulgar, but it’s actually semolina that has been rolled – in this case, by hand by my mum and her friends back in Algiers,” says Bahia. “The women sit around, and spend a couple of days rolling the couscous and chatting away. It is then dried in the sunshine and stored in sacks.”

She and Liz – who met 20 years ago at work – are launching their new enterprise with a special evening at the Harland Café in John Street, off Bramall Lane.

The event, next Friday evening (September 14), will include a three-course meal of classic Algerian dishes.

“I prepare couscous in the authentic way that I learnt growing up,” says Bahia. “I rehydrate it twice and use olive oil and cinnamon.

“We’ll also be cooking things like tabikha – a broad bean, pea, artichoke and fresh coriander stew; zrodiya mecharla, which are spicy carrots; and bourak, deep-fried filo pastries filled with cheese, potato and spring onion.”

Adds Liz: “We’ll have Algerian music too, so there will be plenty of North African tastes, flavours and sounds for people to enjoy.”

Tickets are £15 in advance; call 0771 433 4864 or visit the Harland Café.

Lesley Draper