Moroccan Couscous

by Aicha Lhor

I’m from Morocco, and I would like to share with you one of our traditional dishes, which is couscous. Couscous is a North African dish consisting of spherical granules made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina wheat. Couscous is mostly known in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Actually, I think that Couscous is known all over the world, and I was really surprised to eat Couscous in the United States as a salad. There are many recipes of Couscous, but the most famous is the one that we serve with meat and vegetable stew .We can bye Couscous ready to cook from the market, or we can make it at home. When I was a child, I remember my Mom used to make it in a big circular dish. She made it with semolina wheat, flour, water and salt. She kept working on it until tiny granules of couscous are made. After that, she steamed it once and she dried it in the sun. If we have a ceremony where many people are invited, my mom prepared a big quantity of couscous ahead of time and saved it. Couscous is a main dish in all traditional ceremonies; usually we first serve a dish called ''tajine'' followed by couscous. Also, most Moroccan families cook couscous every Friday. When all family members return from Friday prayer at the mosque, they eat couscous together in one large circle dish. The couscous dish is made in two parts. The base is cooked in a tall metal pot in which the meat and vegetables are cooked as a stew. The top of the pot is the steamer where the couscous is cooked and it sits on the base, so when couscous is cooked, it absorbs the flavors from the stew.

In order to make couscous, we need the following ingredients :

- 2 lbs lamb or chicken cut into large pieces
- ½ cup olive oil
- Saffron
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 2 large onions peeled and quartered
- 1 large tomato peeled and quartered
- 1 lb carrots, peeled and halved
- 10 parsley leaves tied into a bouquet
- 1 small squash, quartered
- ½ of a small cabbage, cut into 4 sections
- 1/4 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight
We put 1/4 cup of oil in the base of the couscous dish, we add meat, salt, black pepper, ginger and saffron. We cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After that, we add onion and tomato and we cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. After that, we add water, all the ingredients should be covered with water. We raise the heat to high until the meat is almost cooked ( it depends on which kind of meat we use). After that we add squash, carrots, cabbage, chickpeas and leaf parsley, and we cook for a half hour. We add to the dry couscous 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1 cup of water, we rub it softly between our palms in a large dish and we leave it for 10 minutes until the water is absorbed. After that we put it in the steamer and we steam it for 10 minutes. We repeat this step three times, but without adding oil each time, we have to add only water. When we finish steaming, our couscous should be light and fluffy.
Once the couscous is cooked, we serve it in a large ceramic circular dish. We put the couscous first and the meat and vegetables stew on the top.

This picture is from yahoo images

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