The Moroccan national dish is couscous with seven vegetables. Couscous is a small grain sized "pasta" made from wheat semolina flour. Every vegetable adds an important dimension to this famous dish. Lamb or mutton is most commonly used in this dish, but chicken can also be used.
Preparing this dish consists of two separate parts: preparing the couscous grains and preparing the vegetables with meat stock. The couscous should be prepared while the stock is cooking
Steaming the couscous
Couscous is steamed semolina grains. Its preparation involves alternating steaming and mixing the semolina with salt, oil, water and Smen (butter) .
You will need a Couscousiere. Click here to check out our selection.
Pour water into the couscousiere stock pot (bottom part) to a depth of several inches. Make sure the couscousiere colander (steamer insert) does not touch the boiling water.
While the water comes to a boil, start working with the couscous:
- Sprinkle one teaspoon of salt and two tablespoons of oil on the couscous and spread it around by hand in a shallow pan.
- Using two cups of water, soak the couscous and stir it by hand (important, to give air), making sure to break up any clumps that may have formed. Let it sit for ten minutes to absorb all the water.
- Work the couscous by hand, lifting the grains, rubbing them gently and letting them fall back into the pan. Once the couscous has absorbed all the water and has a flaky texture (no lumps), slowly put the couscous; a light layer at first, then after five minutes add the remaining couscous in successive layers in the steamer. Let it steam for twenty minutes.
- Once the steam has risen through the couscous, pour it back onto the pan. Use a wooden spoon to separate the grains and cool it down. Sprinkle the couscous progressively with a cup of cold water while stirring it by hand (be sure to give the couscous plenty of air), and break up any clumps that may have formed. Stir until the grains have absorbed all the water. Allow it to cool and dry for ten minutes.
- Repeat steps three and four one more time.
Let it sit while the stock finishes cooking.
Cooking the stock with vegetables and meat
- 1 lb of shoulder of mutton or chicken
- 1/2 cup chickpeas soaked in water over night (or canned; but please note that canned chickpeas should only be added to the stew 30 minutes before the end since they are already cooked)
- 1 lb onions
- 1/4 lb. turnips
- 1/4 lb. carrots
- 2 zucchinis
- 2 hot peppers (chillies) or sweet
- 1 bouquet of fresh coriander
- 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil for stock
- 1 tsp Smen or butter.
- 1/2 medium sized Savoy cabbage
- 2 fresh tomatoes
- 1/2 lb. red pumpkins
- 1/4 tsp of saffron (Taliouin Saffron)
- 2 Tblsp or Couscous Spice mix.
- 3 litres of water
- Salt (to adjust)
- Cut the lamb (or chicken) and chop the cabbage into quarters. Slice two onions lengthwise. Put into the pot.
- Add in oil, saffron, spices, bouquet coriander, and salt.
- Stir over medium heat to sauté the vegetables and seal the meat.
- Add the chickpeas and pour over water until the ingredients are submerged. Boil for fifteen minutes.
- Add 2 more sliced onions, peeled and sliced lengthwise carrots, zucchini (medium size cubes), and turnips (peeled and quartered). Simmer for another fifteen minutes.
- Add the pumpkin (medium size cubes), the tomatoes, and hot peppers at the end. Simmer for ten minutes.
Check the seasoning of the stock. Boil any excess water in the stew, but make sure there is sufficient broth to use as a sauce. Verify that the vegetables are cook
Serve your couscous dish:
- Half an hour before serving, steam the couscous for ten minutes. Put the couscous back in the shallow pan, stir the couscous and mix in the smen. Sprinkle with two ladle scoops of stock progressively as you stir the couscous. Make sure the couscous is flaky, separated and moist.
- Taste the couscous to check the salt.
- Put the couscous, in a large round dish (Ghasaa), piled into a cone.
- Dig a hollow into the middle of the couscous cone.
- Put the meat and vegetables on top.
Serve at once with extra stock served separately for those who prefer it moister.