>> Algerian Home Chef Mamat Yakoub | Eat the World Los Angeles

Friday 15 April 2022

Algerian Home Chef Mamat Yakoub

Looking up at the pickup location

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a private home-based chef. Please reach out to me through Twitter or Instagram if you would like her contact information as I did not want to publish it here.

While doing the work of finding Algerians in Greater Los Angeles, so far publicly limited to Chef Zadi and his Revolutionario Tacos, a little luck came the way of this website while finding them cheering on their national football team. While Algeria was eliminated from World Cup contention by a very late stoppage time goal by Cameroon, and the place Algerians gather to cheer on their team was no longer going to be packed in November, another chef came into focus.

Many cuisines around Southern California call themselves Mediterranean because of their proximity to this body of water and a generally familiarity of the word with potential clients, but Algeria is possibly the perfect example of purely Mediterranean cuisine. It has influences from almost every shore on all sides of the sea, ingredients coming by land and water for thousands of years to create the foods that are beloved today.

A full order laid out on the table

Algerian food and the chefs that prepare it, like the food of other nations both easy and hard to find in Los Angeles all exist on a network of online communities, in WhatsApp and Facebook groups and elsewhere. If you live in a decent-sized city and are in need of food from back home but there is no restaurant, there is a good chance that you can still find it through other means. Another chef in the same group that this one was found was advertising her dishes to residents of Columbus, Ohio.

Since there are both Moroccan and Tunisian restaurants in Southern California, Algerian food will not seem completely new to those that have tried these other North African cuisines. But Chef Yakoub does have some dishes that do not show up on those menus and deeper dives into exclusively Algerian bites are definitely possible.

Tlitli with chicken

When you open the container of tlitli b'djedi (above), sometimes considered Algeria's national dish, the wonderful spices of Algeria and garlic combine and emanate throughout your house. The word tlitli refers to the orzo-like pasta that is usually homemade in Algerian homes.

Interestingly this dish and the others had all the base notes correct but could have been considered bland by people that are used to a lot of spice in their life. It is unclear if this was a decision by a chef who knew the order was not being placed by an Algerian or if her cooking style reflects this. That being said, all the flavors were comfortable and felt like home, no matter where you come from.

Kesra matlouh, made from hard wheat and semolina.

Ground beef bourek
Slightly charred from reheating in the air fryer (not recommended).

Known as the more familiar term brik at Tunisian restaurants around town, bourek (above) are ground beef-filled rolls that are often served during Ramadan alongside the stew chorba frik (below). The former are wrapped with thin, crackly dough, something that you will see on almost every table in Algiers each night of this holy month of fasting.

Chorba frik has both beef and chicken and is full of coriander which dominates the flavor. The broth is tomato-based and the stew is hearty from being full of tiny pellets of crushed green wheat.

Chorba frik

Couscous with lamb

What most people would actually consider the national dish is couscous (above), which Chef Yakoub serves with a choice of chicken or a shank of lamb. You can also decide if you want a white or red sauce (shown) with your meat.

The couscous is dressed with potatoes, carrots, zucchini, and most importantly chickpeas, which are numerous in both containers. Any future restaurant that the chef opens is looked forward to so that the dish can be eaten straight from the tajine it is cooked in.


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