Chraime Recipe: Tunisian Fish Dish With Explosive Flavors

To my opinion, there are only a few dishes with such a high level of explosive flavors as the Chraime (or Hraime).

The good recipes (or at least those I find to be good), are spicy hot, lemon sour and garlicy. The secret is the balance between those three.

It can be served for dinner or as a first course in a festive dinner.

This traditional recipe, combines tender fish with a rich tomato sauce infused with spices like paprika, garlic, and lemon.

Cooking Chraime is surprisingly simple, and the result is a tasty meal that looks and tastes like it took hours to prepare. All you need to do is sauté some garlic, add in spices and tomatoe paste, then simmer your fish until it’s perfectly cooked. The sauce absorbs into the fish beautifully, making each bite a burst of flavor.

It is highly recommended to serve it with a lot of bread on the side to “catch” the sauce. My kids usually like my focaccia.

Whether you’re new to cooking or a seasoned chef, chraime is a must-try dish that brings a taste of Moroccan/Tunisian and Israeli cuisine right to your kitchen. Your family and friends will be impressed with the vibrant colors and bold flavors of this hearty stew.

Origins and Cultural Significance

Chraime is a flavorful fish dish with deep roots in the Sephardic Jewish community. Its history and unique place in culinary traditions make it an important dish worth exploring.


Historical Roots of Chraime

Chraime originates from the Sephardic Jewish cuisine of North Africa, particularly Libya and Tunisia. It was developed by Jews who settled in these regions after being expelled from Spain in 1492.

This fish dish became a staple because of its simplicity and the easy availability of ingredients like tomatoes, peppers, and local fish. The name “Chraime” comes from the Arabic term for “hot” or “spicy,” reflecting the dish’s characteristic use of heat from spices and peppers.

Over centuries, Chraime has remained a beloved dish, particularly during Jewish holidays and special occasions. Its enduring presence highlights the adaptability and enduring legacy of Sephardic culinary traditions.

Essential Ingredients

Hraime doesn’t include a lot of ingredients, so when making the dish, the choice of fish, spices, and acidic elements is crucial. Each component plays a significant role in achieving the dish’s unique flavor and balance.

Selecting the Right Fish

Choosing the right fish is the foundation of a great Hraime. Popular options include cod, halibut, sea bass, and Sole. These fish have a mild flavor and firm texture, making them perfect for absorbing the rich sauce.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices add depth to Hraime’s flavor profile. Commonly used spices include paprika, cumin, and coriander. Paprika provides a smoky, slightly sweet flavor, while cumin adds an earthy, warm taste. Coriander offers a hint of citrus and spice, enhancing the dish’s complexity.

Fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley introduce a refreshing contrast to the rich sauce. When combined, these spices and herbs create the distinctive seasoning that defines Hraime. Remember to use fresh, high-quality spices for the best results.

Acidic Elements

Acidic elements are essential for balancing the richness of the fish and spices. Lemon juice and lime juice are popular choices, adding a bright, tangy flavor that cuts through the heaviness.

While I love using lime for my ceviche recipe, I always use lemon and only lemon for my Hraime.

Incorporating other acidic ingredients like tomatoes and roasted red peppers also contributes to the dish’s depth. Tomatoes provide a natural sweetness and acidity, while roasted red peppers add a smoky, robust element. Together, these acidic components create a harmonious balance, making Hraime a well-rounded and flavorful dish.

Hraime with bread

Cooking The Chraime – Step by Step

Marinating and Seasoning

Before I start cooking, I take the pieces of fish and marinate them in a lot of lemon and salt for at least 15-20 minutes to let the flavors penetrate the flesh.

Preparing the Sauce

Preparing the sauce is very easy and can done in advance.

You need to sauté the garlic in a good amount of high quality olive oil. Make sure they are not burned.

When the garlic is ready, add in the cumin and paprika. At that point, the smell will drive everyone in the area of your house crazy! The spices don’t require more than several seconds in the oil so don’t over do it.

Add a cup of water and stir in the tomato paste.

Fix the taste to your liking with a combination of lemon juice, salt, black pepper and, hot paprika and a little bit of sugar for balance.

The sauce needs to be to your desired taste before you put your fish in. It will be more complicated to fix it with the fish inside.

Adding the Fish

You only need to place the fish in the sauce 15-20 before you want to eat. While you can heat it over again, it is less than recommended.

If you marinated the fish with a lot of lemon and salt, you can wash it off gently with cold water.

The sauce should be hot when you place the fish in but not boiling hot.

Cover the pan for 10-15 minutes and you are good to go.


Place a piece of fish in the middle of the plate with a lot of sauce and your choice of favorite bread to absorb it.

Regional Variations

Moroccan Hraime: This version often includes sweet peppers and may be slightly less spicy. Fresh cilantro or parsley is commonly used as a garnish, adding a burst of fresh flavor at the end.

Tunisian Hraime: Known for its bold use of chili peppers, Tunisian Hraime is the spiciest variation. Sometimes, fried lemon slices are added, giving it a unique bitter and tangy flavor.

Sephardic Hraime: This version usually incorporates roasted red peppers and fresh lemon juice. It’s often cooked with a combination of tomatoes and fish for a balanced, savory dish. The sauce is typically simmered to a thicker consistency.

Each regional twist offers a distinctive taste, making Hraime a versatile dish that can cater to different flavor profiles. Experiment with these variations to discover your favorite!

Nutritional Information

Hraime is a flavorful dish with nutritious ingredients. Here’s a look at some key nutritional aspects.

A typical serving of Hraime, about 1 cup, usually contains around 200-250 calories. This can vary slightly depending on the type of fish and added ingredients.

Hraime is rich in protein, making it an excellent choice if you’re looking to include more seafood in your diet. You get about 20-25 grams of protein per serving.

This dish has a moderate fat content, around 7-10 grams per serving. Most of the fat comes from healthy sources like olive oil.

There are generally low amounts of carbohydrates in Hraime, around 10-15 grams per serving, mostly from the tomatoes and other vegetables.

Vitamins and Minerals:

  • Vitamin C: From tomatoes and lemon juice.
  • Iron: Beneficial for energy levels.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Good for heart health, found in many types of white meat fish used.
Hraime Recipe

Chraime Recipe with Exploding Flavors

Say goodbye to the plain taste of fish. With delicate combination of just a few ingredients, you turn a simple cod into a mouth watering dish in less than 30 minutes!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine Israeli, Mediterranean, Moroccan, tunisian
Servings 4 people


  • 4 fish fillets such as cod, halibut, or sea bass
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper adjust to taste
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro chopped (for garnish)


  • Season the fish fillets with salt and lemon. Set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  • Add the minced garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes until they soften.
  • Stir in the ground cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper. Cook for another minute until fragrant.
  • Pour in the water.
  • Add the tomato paste, mix well and bring to a simmer.
  • Gently place the fish fillets into the sauce, making sure they are submerged.
  • Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.

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