The most quintessentially Moroccan dish, every true Moroccan cook knows how to whip up a delicious platter of couscous.
Rabat – Vegetable Couscous is prepared in most Moroccan households every Friday, to be eaten after Friday prayers. Families unite around the huge couscous dish once a week and enjoy the taste of tradition. While modern families enjoy couscous with a fork or spoon, some older Moroccans eat with their hands, rolling one-handed balls of couscous.
As with most traditional Moroccan recipes, the methods of preparation and ingredients differ from region to region, and from family to family. In the southeast of Morocco, Amazigh people prepare couscous with kale which is abundantly available in this region.
In the spring and summer months, rural communities cultivate kale and use it as a key ingredient for their Friday couscous.
In winter, it is the fava bean season and many families choose to include the bean as the special ingredient for their couscous.
In the atlas region, women prepare couscous with pumpkin and zucchini and adding milk to the gravy before serving.
Another lovely couscous recipe is “tefaya,” it is decorated with honey onions and raisins. While it is usually served as at ceremonies and parties, many families choose to cook this type of couscous every Friday.
Today I’m going to show you how I make vegetable and lamb couscous. You will need a couscous pot.
I should tell you, this is not a simple process and will take some time and concentration.
Here’s what you’ll need:
500 g of medium couscous
1 kg of lamb meat
4 carrots, peeled cut lengthwise
3 turnips, peeled and cut lengthwise
250g of fava beans, peeled
2 medium squares of pumpkin
Some roughly chopped cabbage
1 cup of chickpeas, tinned or soaked overnight
2 tomatoes, grated
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro and parsley
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ginger
Pinch of saffron threads
½ cup of olive oil
Enough water (about 3 liters)
Now you’re ready to start cooking:
In the couscous pot, put oil and onion, meat and cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat.
Add grated tomatoes and chopped parsley and cilantro, stir, and let cook for another 5 minutes.
As a trick, I add some grated pumpkin to give the gravy a good taste and make it thick.
Add vegetables, spices, and water to cover the vegetables. (Zucchini and pumpkin may be added later since they don’t take a long time to be cooked).
Leave the pot on medium heat until boiling.
Meanwhile, you can start preparing your couscous:
Place couscous in large plate or using Gasaa (Moroccan couscous plate). sprinkle with 1/4 liter of water and separate the grains by gently rubbing them between and add two tablespoons of oil.
Place couscous inside the steamer and put it on the boiling couscous pot. The steam will rise from the couscous.
Let couscous steam for 15 minutes and remove it into a large bowl, and separate the grains again by rubbing them gently between your palms or with fork while.
Sprinkle some cold water, separate the grains.
Return the couscous in the steamer to steam again for about 45 minutes.
Decant the couscous into the large bowl and sprinkle some cold water, for the last time, and gently break all the lumps with a fork and let rest for 10 minutes.
Add 2 tablespoon of oil, butter, and a pinch of salt to the couscous and mix well.
Replace the couscous in the steamer and put it on the pot.
steam until the steam rise from the top for 5 minutes.
The couscous is ready.
Now tip couscous onto a large dish or gasaa, add the meat in the middle, then place the vegetables decoratively on top of the couscous. Add sauce till it is soaked enough.
Now it’s time to serve, enjoy with family and friends. If you feel brave enough, try eating with one hand!