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Marqa Djilbenna | North African Sweet Pea Stew

A traditional stew prepared with meat peas and sometimes other vegetables, all slowly braised in a spicy tomato sauce. Deliciously brings a hint of spring to the colder months.

بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
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It’s been a while since I last posted. I’ve had a lot of life changes this past year, many good ones but also some not so good ones. I'm working and with 4 children in school, time is very limited.

Autumn has rolled in here in North Africa, so bowls of warming stews and tadjine are laid out on our table to welcome everyone home with.

Marqa Djilbenna is a traditional stew prepared in the fast eastern regions of Algeria and Tunisia. It consists of lamb, beef or chicken, peas and sometimes other vegetables, all slowly braised in a spicy tomato sauce.

Spring and summer in North African is really an unforgettable sight, but so are the colder months. while northern counrties suffer through snow storms and extreme cold, here the weather is much more milder. 

North Africans are big consumers of vegetables in sauce, these famous sauces called marqa in the east, djouez in the center and even referred to as tadjines in the west.  The sauce of the eastern Algeria  is usually red (there are other versions in saffron), in the central 'white' using only cinnamon and black pepper to flavor and in the west an array of spices are used, in which one cooks meat and vegetables. 

You will find on this blog severals marqa dishes in the Recipe Index

To come back to my story, Algerian peas are quite big and sometimes very starchy. They have a slightly sweet taste, but are only in season in the spring. Luckily, due to modern technology we can enjoy this dish year round.

๑۞๑ Marqa Djilbenna is naturally gluten-free and grain-free dish. See Kitchen Tips for tips on how to make Vegan and/or Paleo friendly.

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So let's get started with the recipe.


main dishes | serves about 4-5

  Marqa Djilbenna 

 A traditional stew prepared with meat peas and sometimes other vegetables, all slowly braised in a spicy tomato sauce. Deliciously brings a hint of spring to the colder months. 


‣ 500g -1lb bone-in beef, lamb or chicken
‣ 300g - almost 3 cups shelled sweet peas
‣ 1 large onion, chopped finely
‣ 3 minced garlic cloves
‣ 3 large carrots, sliced
‣ 1 bay leaf
‣ 2 TBS tomato paste
‣ 1 tsp sea salt, black pepper, paprika
‣ Harissa, to taste
‣ oil, water or stock

1 - Brown the meat in a heavy bottom pan for about 5 minutes, before adding in the onions to brown.

2 - Add in the remaining ingredients, except for the peas and about one liter of water, then cook for about 30 minutes over a medium heat.

3- Test the meat for doneness, then add in the peas, cook for another 5 minutes. If the sauce has the desired consistency, turn off, otherwise continue cooking for another additional 5 minutes until reduced. 

    Make Ahead
    ⇝ This dish is easily made ahead up to 3 days before you would like to serve it.

    This dish can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days in a food storage container or up to one month in the freezer. 

    ⇝ The carrots in this dish can be subsituted for artichokes or even okra.

    Vegan & Vegetarian
    ⇝ To make this dish veg-friendly omit the meat and use vegetable stock.

     CATEGORIES: Main dishes, quick & easy,  algerian savory, autumn, winter, spring, mediteranean, north african

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     ➤ This stew would go deliciously with this homemade bread. 
    ➤ Or even try this other Tunisian pasta dish. Or even this vegetarian stew.
    ➤ Or get inspired at the Recipe Index.

      what's your favorite autumn dish? let us know which ones in the comments below. 

    1 comment:

    1. Assalaam Alaykum Henia,
      Thanks so much for the info about the different names for stews in different regions and the spicing/color variations.
      I should be more open minded and realise not everyone cooks the same way as my in laws do lol.
      Your peas stew looks delicious it's one of my favourites to eat but sadly my children aren't fond of green anything!
      Umm Hamza


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