A typical product of southern Tunisia, bsisa is a wheat and barley flour to which various spices, almonds, dates, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), sorghum and occasionally sugar are added to prepare tasty purées and traditional drinks to serve with dates and dried fruit. When it is consumed as a beverage, mixed with water, it is called dardoura, when it is mixed with olive oil it is called abbouda.
The preparation is fairly simple; the ingredients vary based on the culinary traditions and the areas where it is made, they are cooked in the village oven, ground, roasted and then turned into powder. Oven cooking and roasting are useful for releasing the organoleptic characteristics of each component.
It is normally served at breakfast and mainly prepared with the Hamira wheat variety. It is a fundamental food for the Tunisian community, especially during Ramadan, thanks to its nutritional properties and high calorie content. The first records on its existence date back to the ancient Roman civilisation: mosaics, paintings and manuscripts describe the first recipes made with bsissa. Traditionally it is considered the ideal food for workers: a high energy food, easy to transport and preserve. Lastly, it is a typical food for weddings or to celebrate the birth of a child.
Each year a festival is organised in Latma, a small Sahel village, dedicated to this traditional product, an important part of Tunisia’s culinary heritage.