بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
There's a tradition here in Algeria around the foothills of the Atlas Mountains near the city of Blida. Women in the spring and early summer months can be seen collecting lavender. Lavender is a much loved herb that is a part of local seasonal practices. The picking of wild lavender reminds all of the harmony we have with nature. Eating of one famous dish, called "Hammama Blidéen" or "Taâm Hâlhal" is one of luxury and nostalgia that people of the north living near these ancient wild fields still enjoy today.
This dish gets its name "Hammama" (meaning sauna bath) from the sweating effect after its consumption. It's quite an interesting phenomenon. It's a fusion of the expertise of the Berber and Andalusian kitchen. The exact composition of the herb bouquet for the Hammama differs from a cook to another. Some cooks just use the wild lavendar while others like to add other herbs in like wild thyme and zaatar. There seems to be several versions, according to the virtues the cook wishes to draw out.
The appearance of wild lavender, in Algeria symbolizing tradition, end of the winter chill and the arrival of spring's bounty. The eating of this couscous is like a spring cleansing of the Algerian stomach. It's said to bring immunity of the colds and flu of of the colder months. I don't have any concrete evidence to share but lavender's medicinal use has been documented for centuries.
Traditionally, this dish is made by rolling fine and medium grained semolina with steamed lavendar buds, but I'm taking a shortcut ... making this dish more accessible for home cooks and using store bought couscous - not rolling my own. I've added less lavendar then most Algerian cooks would, since I don't like to overpower the subtleness of this herb. In my opionion, adding too much lavendar makes you feel like you're eating parfume. J
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