Tunisian Cooking

How to make Tunisian marka – recipe (marqa)

Tunisian marka (marqa) is traditionally served with bread, but if you’re not at that level yet, feel free to use a fork!

One of my favorite dishes in Tunisia is the Tunisian marka (also spelled marqa), which is a kind of spicy, flavorful stew eaten with bread. If you have been searching for a Tunisian marka recipe with American instructions, you’re finally in luck today!


  • Olive oil
  • One large onion
  • 10-13 oz. bag of frozen green peas
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs chicken (breasts, legs, thighs, or a combination)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 heaping tbsp turmeric
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup (approximately) extra spicy red chili powder or harissa
  • 6 – 8 potatoes (I prefer russet)
  • 2 – 3 long hot peppers
  • 1 bundle of fresh cilantro
  • 1 – 2 loaves of fresh bread for eating (French and Italian style loaves work best)



  1. Pour olive oil into large pot, enough to liberally coat the entire bottom surface. Turn heat to medium low to allow oil to warm up.
  2. Peel and cut onion in half and then into strips. Break apart and place into pan with oil.
  3. Pour entire bag of green peas into the pot and break up with a spoon, mixing with onions and coating everything in the oil. Increase heat to medium.
  4. Cut chicken breasts and thighs into small pieces (size is personal preference, but I’ve found that smaller pieces are more tender and flavorful). If using legs, leave them whole. Once onions are lightly browned, add chicken to the pot and stir to prevent sticking.
  5. Add salt, pepper, and turmeric, then stir to coat evenly and let sit about five minutes.
  6. Add the can of tomato paste and stir into mixture. Let simmer five minutes and then add either the chili powder or harissa paste (whichever you have available), along with two cups of hot water.
  7. Peel and cut potatoes in half longways, and then in half longways again. Each potato should make four strips.
  8. Add cut potatoes and another cup of hot water to the pot and cover partially. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  9. Rinse long hot peppers and cut off stems. Cut one of the peppers into halves and then slice each half down the middle to get four chunks. Dice the other pepper (or two – your preference) into small bits. Add to the pot along with a cup of hot water.
  10. Rinse and cut cilantro bundle as finely as possible. Add and mix thoroughly into the marka.
  11. Check the potatoes. You may have to wait a couple of minutes after adding the cilantro (total cooking time is around 20 minutes after adding the potatoes) Once they are done, the dish is complete and ready to serve! Let stand 10 minutes to do some final thickening and then ladle into dishes and serve with fresh bread.

    Tunisian marka – the finished product!

I hope you found this Tunisian marka recipe easy to understand, as I’ve taken the time to measure out the ingredients in American metrics. This coveted recipe for Tunisian marka is sure to become a favorite!

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