What do you eat when you’re feeling under the weather? Chicken noodle soup was on the top of my list when I caught a cold last week, but after a few solid days of that, I was craving something more flavorful, but no less comforting. For some reason, I was really craving couscous, so P and I decided to visit Chez Hamadi on Tuesday when he had a half day at work.
I ordered a combination of merguez and lamb meatball to accompany the reddish Tunisian style couscous, which comes with a large tureen of vegetable stew. The couscous was nice and dry, not clumpy, and very flavorful, best eaten while soaked with the tomato based stew, where the vegetables were still vibrant and not cooked to a mush. The merguez sausage was particularly yummy with just a bit of spiciness while the meatball was what I would characterize as interesting, very fresh tasting especially with the inclusion of parsley in the mix, with none of the gaminess of lamb. Throw in a bit of the fiery harissa sauce and suddenly, you’ve found for yourself a proxy for sambal belacan (without the funky smell).
P’s tagine of stewed lamb and eggplants were equally delicious and very tender. For those who do not eat lamb, you can also find chicken and fish options on the menu, though admittedly your options will be somewhat limited.
Chez Hamadi is a hole in the wall with a very rustic ambience to it. The server is gruff looking but gentle, the walls are plastered with yellowing posters advertising Tunisia’s tourism highlights and the ceiling is adorned with dangling pots and pans. It is not a place to impress or to romance, but if you just want a very good plate of couscous, this is definitely one place to remember.
12 Rue Boutebrie, 75005 Paris, France