Here's our recipe for Algeria’s white soup, chorba beida; once a favourite dish of royalty and now a staple meal across the country.
What is it?
White in colour and delicate in flavour, this fragrant chicken soup spiced with cinnamon, lemon and herbs is the best of Algerian home cooking.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 small free-range chicken, jointed into eight pieces
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
400g (14oz) canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 handful of vermicelli noodles
1 egg yolk
juice of 1 lemon
small bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
How to cook
Step 1: Heat the butter and olive oil in a large heavy-based casserole over a medium heat. Add the chicken and fry until golden, then remove and set aside.
Step 2: Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.
Step 3: Add the garlic, pepper, chilli, cinnamon and salt, and stir for 1 minute.
Step 4: Return the chicken to the pan, add 4 cups water, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Step 5: Add the chickpeas and vermicelli, and simmer for 15 more minutes. Turn off the heat.
Step 6: Combine the egg yolk and half of the lemon juice in a bowl and beat with a fork until they’re well mixed.
Step 7: Slowly add the lemon and egg mixture into the saucepan, whisking briskly to avoid curdling. The soup should turn a creamy white.
Step 8: Divide the soup between four bowls, sprinkle with fresh coriander and add a squeeze of lemon before serving.
The first thing you’ll notice about chorba beida is its distinctive colour (the name literally means ‘white soup’). The second is its delicate flavour, an altogether more subtle experience than its bolder and more brightly coloured sister, harira. A perfect chorba beida should be light, subtly spiced and velvety in texture, cut through with the sharpness of lemon, and bulked up with toothsome chickpeas and pieces of tender chicken falling off the bone. While its wholesome properties make for an excellent homemade cold remedy, it’s perhaps best enjoyed with an Algerian family during Ramadan, alongside a spread of equally enticing dishes, to break the fast of the day.
Other recipes in this series:
Vietnamese banh mi
Portuguese pica pau
Have you recreated any of the dishes featured in this series so far? Share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging @lonelyplanet. For more great recipes, check out Lonely Planet’s book The World’s Best Bowl Food.