A delicious and savory dish from North Africa.
You can pretty much add your favorite spices and vegetables to couscous.
Most noteworthy, couscous refers to the tiny little pasta that the vegetable stew is served with.
It’s originally a dish from the Maghreb, North Africa.
Wikipedia writes that the word couscous may be derived from the Arabic word Kaskasa, meaning “to pound small” or the Berber Seksu, meaning “well rolled”, “well formed”, or “rounded.”
Since this dish is also made by the Berber people of Mali and Niger, I think it’s probably originally from the Berber word.
I learned how to make this dish when I was living in Paris with my North African boyfriend.
Madjid’s family are Berbers from the northern mountains of Algeria and spoke an ancient language called Kabyle.
One evening we had just moved in together in our new apartment and had invited friends to a house warming party. And I had decided to make couscous for the first time for a dozen people.
Everyone was enjoying it, when I overheard someone ask Madjid, “Did you have your mom make the couscous just for tonight?”
And Madjid of course answered, “My mom didn’t make this, Laure did!” They were all shocked. Hahaha
Here’s how to make this dish.
Traditionally you make it in a couscoussière and the steam from the simmering vegetables cooks the couscous.
And when you don’t have a couscoussière you simply put the couscous in a bowl and pour boiling water with salt and oil over it just enough to cover it. Then, place a plate over the bowl. That simple!
Finally, you can use any vegetables you like. This is a nice dish to make with left over vegetables at the end of the week.
If you try it, let me know how it came out in the comments!
- 2 Tbsp oil or ghee
- 1/2 cup onions, diced
- 2 Tsp crushed garlic
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp harissa
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 cup chopped bell peppers (yellow, red and orange)
- 2 zucchini, diced
- 1 medium carrot, either shredded or diced
- 2 cups of chopped cabbage
- A handful of cilantro
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (optional
- Couscous (1/2 cup dry - for gluten free substitute quinoa)
- Heat large pan over medium. Pour oil and add onions with a pinch of slat. Sauté the onions for several minutes till softened. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute till fragrant.
- Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, harissa and tomato paste and more salt. Add the vegetables and crushed tomatoes to the pot. Stir till combined. Add water just enough to almost cover the vegetables.
- Bring to a boil. Season with salt to taste.
- Reduce heat and cover the pot. Simmer the mixture till all the vegetables are soft. Between 20 to 30 minutes.Taste regularly to notice if you need more salt, cumin, cinnamon or more harissa for a nice kick.
- Add chickpeas to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes more till they're heated through. Meanwhile, prepare couscous according to package directions. Pour cooked couscous onto a large platter. Top with the cooked vegetable stew. Serve.
- You can add any vegetables you like. This is a great dish to make when you have leftover vegetables you don't know what to do with them.