Tunisian Pasta with Tuna and Anchovies (Makarouna Kadheba)

Tunisian Pasta with Tuna and Anchovies (Makarouna Kadheba)

Makarouna Kadheba (مقرونة كذابة) is a Tunisian pasta that translates to “lying pasta” because of the absence of meats typically prepared with Tunisian tomato-based pastas; these include chicken, beef, lamb, and even seafood. This version is probably the most consumed one in the world of pastas that Tunisians eat as it’s cheap, quick, very easy, and is made up of the things Tunisians couldn’t possibly not have at home: harissa, olives, capers, anchovies, tomatoes, olive oil. To make our mother’s version, finished off with olive oil canned tuna, you’ll need:


200g spaghetti 

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp anchovies

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp salt (for the pasta water)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tbsp spicy harissa 

1 tsp paprika

2 tbsp olives, pitted, washed and sliced 

1.5 cups water 

1 bay leaf

1 can of tuna packed in olive oil (optional)

Step 1. In a large pan, add the minced garlic, anchovies, and olive oil and sauté on low heat for 3-5 minutes while continuously stirring.

Step 2. Meanwhile, fill a pot with water and 1 tbsp of salt and place it on high heat in order to bring it to a boil.

Step 3. To the pan, add the tomato paste and harissa paste and stir until it is all well incorporated.

Step 4. Add the paprika, stir, then add 1.5 cups of hot water.

Step 5. Stir well and allow the sauce to simmer for 5 minutes on low-medium heat.

Step 6. Add the olives and capers and stir into the sauce. Turn the heat on low and let it gently bubble.

Step 7. Once the pasta water starts boiling, add the spaghetti and cook for about 6 minutes. Tunisians typically prefer their pasta well cooked but I prefer it al dente.

Step 8. Drain the pasta at the 6 minute mark. If you are adding tuna, add it to the sauce now.

Step 9. Add the pasta to the sauce.

Step 10. Stir well so that the pasta cooks through and absorbs all the sauce. 

Step 11. Serve and enjoy ! 🍝

Tunisian Pasta with Tuna and Anchovies (Makarouna Kadheba)