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Chourba M'katfa | Algerian Red Soup with Handmade Pasta

بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
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While I know it's getting really too warm for soups, Ramadan is just around the corner. Only 64 days as you see on the iffty countdown calendar I have new on the site. ( See on the right sidebar below) Now starts the time where I and many out there start their Ramadan preparations; By reflecting on what Ramadan actually is, how to prepare mentality, spiritually and psychically for Ramadan, and the  cooks or home managers (like me) can start shopping, meal planning and prepping as to make their Ramadan less stressful and more focused on worship. I shared with you all last year my 7 part  "Ramadan Ready" series. I'll continuing this series this year, adding more ideas, tips and recipes.

One main thing I do before Ramadan (which I've discussed in depth in the Ramadan Ready series, is taking an inventory of the tools I have in my kitchen and home and about 2 months before trying out nex recipes and meal planning. So as we all know a good nourishing soup is traditional in just about all Muslim countries to have during Ramadan I'm plan on presenting a few soups commonly eaten during Ramadan in various regions in Algeria.

Before we explored the fragant Orani Harira of the West and also the smokey Chourba Frik of the Eastern regions of Constantine and Kabyila. Today, we'll be travelling back to Central Northern Algeria where we find this traditional soup made with a hand-rolled pasta called "Chourba M'katfa" Also spelled Mkertfa, mquertfa, ou M’kertfa, mguetaa or even mketaa meaning "to cut".

Pastas were adopted by the Turkish Ottomans and have survived through the centuries as women congregated around a table filled with cakes, good strong coffee flavored with orange blossom with the scent of jasmine filling the air while having fun with pounding spices, recited poems and hand rolling this famous Algerian soup pasta to accommodate their needs for Ramadan. These types of gathering were ones of joy and faith, women doing good and helping each other.

The preparation of M'kafta is a simple one, but it does take time to hand roll each little strand of pasta. It would take women several weeks even months to roll enough to last them during Ramadan. In modern times, we can easily buy hand-rolled m'katfa in the souq or even subsitute vermicelli pasta. While I generally buy freshly rolled m'katfa from my neighbor Fatiha I included the ratio she uses to prepare her pasta. You can use any container as the measure (tea glass,  coffee mug, standard American measuring cups, etc)

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Chourba M'katfa }
Algerian Red Soup with Handmade Pasta

 Tomato based Northern algerian soup traditionally eaten during ramadan and the colder months, using hand-rolled traditional algerian pasta called m'katfa 

YIELD: serves 6-8
ACTIVE PREP TIME: 10-15 mins 
COOK TIME: 55-60 mins

LARGE MIXING BOXL, KNIFE, grater, cutting board, heavy bottom pot, WOODEN SPOON  


  • 250g - ½ lb beef, lamb or moutton, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, grated
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1-2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 large courgette/zuchinni, diced
  • Handful of precooked chickpeas  (about  ½ cup)
  • Handful of sweet green peas (about  ½ cup)
  • generous handful (about  ½ cup) of fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
  • generous handful (about  ½ cup) of fresh parsely, chopped
  • about ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • hot paprika (optional to taste)
  • about 6 liters of stock or water
  • 2-3TBS oil or smen
  • Generous handful of M'katfa pasta or store bought vermicelli (about  ½ cup)

You can use any container as your measure here.
  • 1 measure fine semolina
  • 1 measure All Purpose flour
  • ½ measure warm water
  • salt


    GENTLY mix the semolina flour, flour, salt with the warm water, until it forms a stiff dough. Wrap and allow to rest for about 20-30 minutes.
    PINCH off a very small portion of the dough, about the size of a fingernail. Gently roll the dough betwen your thumb and pointing finger, rolling until it becomes a long very thin soup pasta. 
    GRATE the tomatoes with the fine side of a grater. Set aside.

    BROWN the meat in the oil in a heavy bottom pot. Once browned, remove the meat and set aside. 

    ADD the onions and garlic into the pot. Sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. Deglaze the pot with with about a cup of stock or water. 

    ADD the meat back in the pot, along with the vegetables except the precooked chickpeas, courgette/zuchinni and peas, spices and half of the herbs. Add in the remaining water/stock. The liquid level should be covering the soup ingredients and the pot should be almost ¾ full.

    BRING the soup to boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cook the soup on a lowe fire, with lid half-way off for about 1 hour until the meat is tender.  

    ONCE the meat is tender, add in the peas and courgettes and continue to cook the soup for another 5 minutes. The courgettes and peas should be al-dente.

    NOW add in the m'katfa pasta. You can optional subsitute store-bought vermicelli pasta. Also add the remaining parsely and cilantro. Simmer for about another 3-5 minutes, until the m(katfa is tender but still little al-dente.

    To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle the remaining chopped mint (or additional parsely and/or cilantro) on the soup. Serve with a few bourek and freshly baked Algerian bread Matlou, Khoubz el Dar or even this Algerian Olive bread.

    This soup will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. And actually tastes better as the flavorings meld. If you were going to serve this at a later time, put the m'katfa (or vermicelli) in before serving as you reheat the soup. The m'katfa will continue to absorb the liquid from the soap and become over-done and even slimey. 
    This soups freezes nicely. Just ladle the remaining soup in freezer-safe container and freeze for up to one month. To reheat, just gently bring back to temperature on the stove on a very low heat. 

    You can easily use store bought vermicelli pasta in this soup instead of making the m'katfa.

    Some Algerian cooks in East like to add celery ribs or leaves to this soup. Traditionally, this isn't done around Alger though. Other Algerian 'red soup' variations add potatoes and cubanelle or green peppers. You can experiement with the flavors by adding these if you like. In my family, my MIL never did so I don't either.

    You can easily make this soup vegetarian or vegan by omitting the meat and using a vegetable stock instead.

    You can prepare the M'katfa by using a corn or rice based flour instead of the wheat flour or even sub a gluten-free vermicelli pasta in this soup recipe to make this recipe Gluten-Free. Surprisingly, they even sell Gluten-Free vermicelli pasta in Algeria in the pharmacies and larger supermarkets.

     CATEGORIES:  Ramadan, Soup, Healthy, DIY Homemade

    SOURCE:  khalti kheira & my late MIL Allah y'rahama

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