Tabil, Dolma and Algeria on Spice and Recipe

How a family’s spice blend and love of food became an inspiration for a business by a new American.



Tabil is a blend of at least three seeds – coriander, cumin and caraway seeds. A must-have ingredient in the Algerian and Tunisian cuisine, tabil can be made at home by roasting and grinding seeds together.

Rafika Allam’s life, just like tabil, is a blend of experiences.

Allam has Algerian roots but her true inspiration came from her Tunisian mother-in-law. Influenced by Nana, as Allam calls her mother-in-law, she started a business in the food industry. Allam and her husband, parents of four children, run the Grand Patisserie bakery in Omaha, Nebraska.

Dolma is today’s recipe. Watch for a major deviation from the traditional stuffed grape leaves, the most common version of dolma in our continent. Allam adds a touch of North Africa in her recipe, as she represents Algeria in this episode of Spice and Recipe.

Spice & Recipe: The Origins of Flavor is a biweekly show that you can watch locally in Omaha, Nebraska on KPAO-TV, Cox 22/1022, and worldwide on the NAM YouTube channel or this website.



  • 1lb ground beef, lamb
  • 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (also known as curcuma)
  • 2 teaspoons tabil
  • 2 tablespoon uncooked rice 
  • 2 onion, finely chopped
  • 7 big  garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, washed and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (or to taste) mint leaves, washed and finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 gray (Mexican) zucchinis, halved and cored
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, halved and cored 
  • 2 artichoke bottoms, cored
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • Harissa (hot chilli pepper paste) to taste  
  • Water

Place meat in a big bowl. Add 1 chopped onion, 4 minced garlic cloves, egg, rice, mint, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon tabil, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. Mix very well and put it aside.

In a pan or small pot, add olive oil, and saute 1 onion and 3 garlic cloves. Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste and harissa to taste. Mix well. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon tabil. Add 1 cup of water. Stir well, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about five minutes. Add more water if too thick.

Place all the vegetables in a baking dish. Layer the inside of vegetables with a blend of tabil, black pepper and salt. Stuff vegetables with the meat mixture. Tip: to preserve artichokes’ color place them in water with a few drops of lemon. If there is stuffing left over, roll it in into balls and place it in the dish. Pour sauce on top of vegetables. Warm up the oven to 375°F, cover dish with aluminum foil and bake dolma for one hour. ENJOY!

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March 18, 2023

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