Couscous – the traditional Moroccan way. This version is a little more time intensive than the boxed couscous, but if you up to the task, you won’t regret it – the smells emanating form your kitchen will transport you to Morocco instantly.
Couscous, either barley or semolina
1 1/2 cups olive oil (divided)
2 large onions, cut in slices
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon saffron*, soaked in water or toasted
A fresh bundle of cilantro and parsley, 4 sprigs of each
1/2 a chicken, cut up, or 1lb of bone-in beef or lamb
3 or 4 turnips
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tomatoes, grated
3 small eggplants (cooked separately)
1/2 of a winter squash, sliced in chunks
1/2 savoy cabbage cut in quarters
1/2 cup Argan oil (optional)
2 C chickpeas, soaked overnight & cooked separately until tender
tfaya (onion and raisin confit) (optional)
* If you use dry saffron, you can slightly toast it in a pan, then crumble it between your palms and let it fall in the pot.
For the broth:
- In a couscousier (or large pot) add a 1/2 cup of olive oil and the sliced onions. Allow to sweat. Add ginger, pepper, turmeric, 1 tablespoon of salt, saffron, and the bundle of coriander and parsley, as well as the meat: chicken, lamb OR beef.
- Let simmer together for 5-10 minutes, then add carrots, turnips and tomato paste, and sauté for a moment. Add the two grated tomatoes. Cover with about 2 liters of water and bring to a boil and then a simmer.
For the couscous:
- In a separate pot, add the quartered eggplant with some of the broth from the other pot. Add a pinch of salt and let simmer until tender. This keeps any bitter liquid or dark color from the eggplant from spoiling the main broth.
- After about 15 minutes, add the zucchini, winter squash and savoy cabbage to the other vegetables in the large pot just after the second steaming of couscous. Spread your couscous on a large platter. Add about a teaspoon of salt and about a half cup of olive oil and rub between your hands to separate the grains. Add 1/2 liter of water a little at a time, pouring the water into your hands, a handful at a time and sprinkle over the couscous. Let it soak in for a few minutes. Rub between your hands again to separate the grains.
- Add the couscous to the top steamer of the couscousier. When the steam starts to come through, after about 10 or 15 minutes, take it off and repeat the process above, by spreading out the grains on the platter again and adding a bit of water. After, put the couscous back into the couscousier.
- Wait 10-15 minutes for the steam to come through. Take the couscous out and repeat the process one more time. You must work quickly and lightly with your hands while it’s hot to bring air into it. They say if you can’t put your hands in the hot couscous, then you will never be able to tolerate your husband!
- At the final stage, the couscous should start to stick together in your hand. Spread it out onto the platter and ‘fluff’ one last time, while infusing the grains with a 1/2 cup of argan or olive oil.
- Mold the couscous on the serving platter into the shape of a ring with a hole in the center. Arrange the cooked vegetables on the side lengthwise in a decorative manner. Pour a little of the broth over the top to moisten. Fill the hole in the middle with the meat.
- Add the tfaya (onion and raisin confit) if you have it. Place chickpeas on top of the vegetables and tfaya. Sprinkle the top with a little bit of parsley for decoration. Serve bowls of broth and harissa on the side.