Kamounia is a spiced tomato based stew that comes in different versions depending on the added protein. It’s one of those dishes that reminds us the most of Baba Mansour (our paternal grandfather) because of the potent aroma of cumin that always seemed to fill his home. The aroma would seep from the kitchen to the living room where we’d regularly sit and play cards while he’d be drinking whiskey with kemia (small snacks to accompany drinks) over deep conversations with our dad. Whenever we visited him in his old home in the Lac de Tunis, there’d always be something cooking and almost every dish we ate was spiked with cumin. Kamounia is an extremely traditional and classic Tunisian dish that puts the almighty cumin on a pedestal.
Below is our mother’s beef kamounia recipe. We have taken it to the next level by incorporating filet mignon as well as our true-to-origins harissa in order to heighten the flavor and richness of the final sauce…
Paprika - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Salt - ½ tsp
Pepper - ½ tsp
Cumin - ½ teaspoon
True-to-origins Harissa (optional) - 2 tsp
Tomato Paste - 1 tsp
Olive Oil - 1.5 tbsp
Filet Mignon, diced into approx. 1.5 inch cubes - 200g (~1/2 lbs)
Step 1. In a bowl, add the paprika, turmeric, salt, and pepper to the cubed pieces of filet mignon and mix together thoroughly until the pieces are well coated.
Step 2. In a pot filled with the 1.5 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat, add the spice-tossed filet mignon cubes, the harissa paste, and the tomato paste; toss them around until the beef pieces are coated evenly and well caramelized. Watch the heat as you want to caramelize the meat, not burn it. Caramelize for about 5 minutes.
Step 3. Add 1 cup of hot water, mix well until everything is deglazed and incorporated into the liquid and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, cover the pot with a lid and bring the heat down to medium-low. Allow 15 minutes of cooking time.
Step 4. Remove the lid and bring the heat to medium heat. Allow the kamounia to simmer with the lid off and reduce until it reaches a thick and rich consistency. This should take 10 to 15 minutes.
Step 5. Once the right consistency has been achieved, add the cumin and turn the heat off. Serve and enjoy.
Kamounia is usually best enjoyed with Tunisian tabouna, French baguette, or really any kind of bread that can soak up the rich sauce in this dish.
Serves one 🐻 or 👩🏾🤝👨🏽.