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Steam, fluff; steam, fluff. This couscous recipe is time-consuming but worth it.
- 3 cups medium-grind couscous (not instant)
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Aleppo-style pepper (for serving)
Spread out couscous on a rimmed baking sheet. Bring stock, cinnamon stick, garlic, star anise pods, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and 2 tsp. salt to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until salt is dissolved, about 4 minutes. Let cool. Strain stock over couscous; discard solids. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and grains begin to swell, 10–15 minutes. Rake and rub couscous with your hands until no clumps remain.
Pour water into a large pot to come 1" up sides. Bring to a gentle simmer. Transfer couscous to a steamer basket or a colander and set inside pot, making sure couscous is not touching water. The sides of the steamer basket should be in direct contact with the pot; this forces the steam up through the couscous instead of around the sides. (If there’s a gap between the steamer and the pot, fill it in with crumpled foil.) Steam, uncovered, gently tossing occasionally, until steam escapes through couscous, 15–20 minutes.
Spread out couscous on a clean baking sheet, discarding any grains that may have stuck to steamer basket. Drizzle ¼ cup cold water over couscous to moisten. Let cool slightly, then rub couscous to break up any clumps.
Pour fresh water into pot to come 1" up sides and steam couscous again, tossing occasionally, until tender and nearly tripled in size, 15–20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium, stirring often, and cook until it foams, then browns, 4–6 minutes.
Transfer couscous back to rimmed baking sheet and toss with a slotted spoon to remove any remaining clumps. Drizzle with brown butter and toss to coat. Taste couscous and season with more salt if needed. Top with pepper before serving.
Do Ahead: Couscous can be steamed once 4 hours ahead. Store on baking sheet at room temperature. Steam the second time just before serving.
Nutritional ContentCalories (kcal) 330 Fat (g) 9 Saturated Fat (g) 5 Cholesterol (mg) 25 Carbohydrates (g) 51 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 0 Protein (g) 9 Sodium (mg) 430
The Best, Most Complicated Cous Cous (That's Worth the Effort)Reviews SectionAbsolutely loveeeee this recipe..it's worth the time. Thanks Andy!AnonymousTrinidad & Tobago03/03/20Can you use fonio for this???The couscous tastes great. The current butter amount is a bit much for my family and me; we will try again with 3 tbsp instead of the recommended 6 tbsp.gauenkIndianapolis07/18/19BA (and Andy Baraghani in particular) is knocking it out of the park these daysAnonymousBaltimore04/15/19
Tunisian spiced butter makes everything it touches better
Weeknight dinners challenge all of us – especially during the overloaded holiday season. I employ a few tricks to help lessen the angst: I keep a stash of individually wrapped, quick-to-cook proteins in the freezer stock the refrigerator with interesting condiments and seek out pre-cut vegetables in the produce section.
Seasoned butters top my list of go-to flavor enhancements. This fall, I’m enchanted with tabil, a Tunisian spice blend made from coriander, caraway and cumin. Stirred into butter, the mixture proves reminiscent of the seasoned butter I smear over the Moroccan seasoned lamb known as mechoui. Armed with tabil-seasoned butter, weeknight pork chops receive a major upgrade.
Whole spices mean big flavor and prove worth the time it takes to grind them. Use an electric spice grinder or coffee mill to grind spices quickly, or employ a mortar and pestle if you like to exert energy. If using ground spices, use slightly less than the amounts of whole spice listed.
Make the butter days or even weeks in advance, and once it’s firm, cut it into tablespoon portions and freeze them solid. The little bricks of flavor season a simply broiled chop or chicken breast and transform steamed or roasted vegetables. A plain pot of brown rice sports new life with a bit of this aromatic butter stirred in at the last minute. Ditto for a creamy bean soup or corn chowder.
For the pork chops, I always prefer bone-in for the added flavor and moisture. Of course, I grill when the weather allows, but it takes time to heat the grill. For everyday cooking, the broiler makes quick work – simply use two temperatures for careful cooking. The same recipe tastes great with boneless chicken thighs just reduce cooking time by 3 or 4 minutes.
“Riced” vegetables grace the tables of trendy vegetarians. Fortunately for the harried home cook, they are now increasingly available in the produce section ready to go. Of course, you can make your own simply by putting raw florets of cauliflower or broccoli into the food processor and pulsing until the pieces resemble rice. Vegetables cut this small allow for quick cooking – here in about 12 minutes.
Serve the chops and cauliflower couscous accompanied by crusty bread to sop up the butter and a glass of rosé wine or hoppy beer. You deserve it.
For deeper flavor, toast the seeds in a small, dry nonstick skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. (Don’t walk away, or they’ll burn.) Cool.
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/2 stick ( 1/4 cup) butter, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
Finely grind the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds with a spice grinder, coffee mill or mortar and pestle set aside.
Put softened butter into a small bowl. Stir in garlic and mustard until blended. Stir in ground seeds and pepper flakes. Transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log. Refrigerate until firm.
Yield: about 1/2 cup
Nutrition information per tablespoon: 65 calories, 6 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 2 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 1 g protein, 93 mg sodium, 1 g fiber
Broiled Pork Chops With Tabil Butter
4 bone-in blade-end or rib pork chops, about 1 inch thick and 6 to 8 ounces each
Salt, freshly ground pepper
6 tablespoons tabil butter, see recipe
Cauliflower couscous, see recipe
Cilantro, chives or fresh parsley, chopped
Heat broiler to low. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil.
Pat the pork chops dry season with salt and pepper. Put the chops on the broiler pan. Broil, 4 to 5 inches from the heat source, 6 minutes. Flip the chops broil 6 minutes. Remove the chops from oven.
Increase the broiler setting to high. Spread a scant 1 tablespoon tabil butter over each. Broil chops, turning after 1 minute, until browned on both sides and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center reaches 140 degrees for medium. Transfer chops to a platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. (Temperature will rise a couple of degrees.)
Serve the chops accompanied by the cauliflower couscous. Garnish with chopped herbs and lime wedges for squeezing over everything.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition information per serving: 262 calories, 17 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 89 mg cholesterol, 3 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 22 g protein, 204 mg sodium, 1 g fiber
Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ With Tabil Butter
Try substituting shredded trimmed, halved Brussels sprouts for the riced cauliflower for a green variation.
1 tablespoon sunflower or safflower oil
1 small red onion, diced
1 package (16 ounces) riced cauliflower
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups frozen black-eyed peas, thawed
1 bag (5 ounces) baby kale, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tabil butter, see recipe
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion cook until translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add cauliflower cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in garlic cook 1 minute. Add black-eyed peas, kale and tabil butter. Cook until greens are wilted and everything is heated through, about 1 minute. Toss with lime juice and serve.
Yield: 6 (1-cup) servings
Nutrition information per serving: 155 calories, 5 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 22 g carbohydrates, 5 g sugar, 7 g protein, 66 mg sodium, 6 g fiber
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- For the Chicken or Lamb:
- 1 small skinless cut-up chicken or 2 pounds/1 kg lamb (cut into 3-inch to 4-inch pieces)
- 1 very large onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
- 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- Optional: 1 teaspoon smen (Moroccan preserved butter)
- 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
- 6 cups/1 1/2 liters water
- For the Tfaya:
- 2 pounds/1 kg onions (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup raisins (soaked in water for 15 minutes, then drained)
- 4 tablespoons sugar or honey
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup water
- For the Couscous:
- 1 pound/1/2 kg dry couscous
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup fried almonds
- Optional: 1 whole or sliced hard-boiled egg (per person)
Spiced Milk Recipe
- Milk - 1 cup
- Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
- Black Pepper Powder - 1/4 tsp
- Dry Ginger Powder - 1/2 tsp
- Cinnamon Powder - 1/2 tsp
- Cardamom - 1 crushed
- Sugar or Sweetener to taste
Tried this recipe? Let us know how it was!
1)Take milk in a sauce pan
3)Add in ginger powder, cinnamon powder and turmeric powder
5)Add in cardamom powder and pepper powder
6)Mix well. heat this till it simmers.
7)Place a strainer in a serving cup.
Over the past few years I’ve been on a mission to find and create recipes that I can make from scratch. I hope you enjoy the recipes on this blog as they are tried and true from my kitchen to yours!
What Is Pearl Couscous?
Pearl couscous, sometimes also called Israeli couscous, can be found anywhere now, I find mine in my local grocery store. Pearl couscous is the same as regular couscous but just a bit bigger and sometimes as you can see here it comes in various colors. Too cool and I thought it would be perfect in this dish. I was right, as usual!
Our Best Couscous Recipes
Couscous is one of those ingredients to keep stocked in your pantry. It’s a form of pasta (so it’s hearty and satisfying) and cooks up in a flash. It’s also incredibly versatile it can be used just like some of your favorite grains. From breakfast bowls to family-friendly dinners, a little couscous always comes in handy!
Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.
Photo By: Quentin Bacon ©Quentin Bacon
Photo By: Min Kwon ©2015,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved
Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved
©marcus nilsson, Food Stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop stylist: Robyn Glaser
Ina adds great flavor and texture to her couscous with sweet currants and crunchy, buttery pignoli nuts.
Sweet and Sour Couscous-Stuffed Peppers
Stuff couscous and beef into sweet bell peppers for a nutritious protein-packed meal. The bold colors of the antioxidant-packed bell peppers aren't just for decoration-the more bright colors you can pile onto your plate, the healthier your meal will be.
Pearl Couscous with Tomato Sauce
Al dente pearl couscous (which is made from the same ingredients as pasta) is right at home with a quick-and-simple tomato sauce. Top with fresh parsley for a crowd-pleasing side in just 20 minutes.
Couscous isn&rsquot a grain, as some people may think &mdash it's actually a type of pasta made from durum wheat and shaped like a grain. The couscous you have in your pantry is most likely instant couscous that's been steamed and dried so it cooks very quickly, for a fast and easy side dish or base for a salad or bowl. Look for whole-wheat couscous in your supermarket it cooks in the same time as the regular variety and has all the virtues of whole wheat pasta. This recipe makes a big batch for make-ahead meal prep but is easily halved.
Garlic Chicken with Israeli Couscous
Looking for a way to switch up your classic chicken and rice? Try pairing your poultry with couscous instead. Anne makes hers with plenty of aromatic ingredients (like garlic, onion, saffron, thyme and citrus) for a dish that will have everyone running to the table.
Couscous with Carrots and Currants
Finish this light and delicious side dish simply &mdash with a bright pop of cilantro and mint.
Saffron, Zucchini and Herb Couscous
Ina&rsquos easy couscous gets its lovely golden color (and delicious sweet-and-savory flavor) from the addition of saffron. Tender, browned zucchini and fresh herbs are the perfect way to round out the flavors and add a nice pop of color.
Scampi on Couscous
This 5-star recipe has rave reviews from Food Network fans who say that it&rsquos &ldquo a keeper&rdquo that will please even the pickiest of eaters.
Grilled Vegetable Couscous
A simple way to add tons of flavor to plain couscous? Stir in grilled leeks and mushrooms &mdash and top everything off with nutty, toasted almonds.
This simple, 20-minute side has the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors thanks to cauliflower, cinnamon and dates.
Curried Roasted Vegetable and Couscous Salad
Couscous is a fantastic way to bulk up any green salad. Here, we&rsquore combining it with curried, roasted vegetables and an easy-to-make yogurt-lime dressing for a meal you'll eat again and again.
Quick-cooking couscous makes fast work of dinner. This simple, delicious side is ready in just 20 minutes.
Strawberry Couscous Breakfast Bowl
While oats are often the first choice for a healthy breakfast, utilizing other whole grains like couscous, millet, amaranth, farro and quinoa keep mornings from becoming mundane. Make a batch of couscous the night before, so that come morning, all you have to do is add toppings like fruits, nuts, coconut and flax seed for a 5-minute healthy breakfast.
Israeli couscous is made with wheat just like other varieties but its larger, pearl-like pieces mean that it has a nice, chewy texture when cooked.
Israeli Couscous with Squash
When the weather gets chilly, there&rsquos nothing more satisfying than this hearty dish, made with chewy Israeli couscous and savory-sweet butternut squash.
This couscous gets it bold aroma and flavor from a quick, homemade spice blend (that you can make up to 2 weeks in advance). The ingredient list might look daunting, but don&rsquot be intimidated &mdash you&rsquoll find that most of the ingredients are already in your pantry.
Moroccan Seafood Stew with Couscous
Couscous cooks up in almost no time at all, making it the perfect base for quick meals. Here, we pair it with equally as speedy shrimp and mussels for a flavorful bowl of seafood stew.
Toasted Couscous Broccoli Slaw with Buttermilk Dressing
A quick homemade buttermilk substitute gives a great tangy flavor to this salad with fresh broccoli and toasty couscous.
Cherry Couscous Pudding
A sweet take on a typically savory dish. Instead of broth, cook your couscous in a combo of skim and almond milk &mdash and add dried cherries and a cinnamon stick for extra flavor. Don&rsquot forget to fluff it up!
Israeli Couscous with Parmesan
This 15-minute dish makes a fantastic side or vegetarian main. Chopped pistachios add buttery flavor and a nice crunch &mdash and are the perfect source of plant-based protein.
Spiced Couscous and Chicken
Weeknight dinners are easy when you start with couscous. Make it the base of your bowl and top with protein and veggies for a complete meal.
Moroccan-Spiced Couscous with Scrambled Eggs
Scrambled eggs get a filling and flavorful makeover with the addition of savory couscous and a refreshing cucumber salad. Perfect for brunch or breakfast-for-dinner-inspired meals.
Homestyle Stew Recipe: Doro We’t and Spiced Butter
Marcus Samuelsson’s book New American Table is an explosion of love and praise for all the many immigrant cuisines that melt together to make American food so glorious. And yet the recipe in his book that we were most drawn to was Doro We’t, the classic Ethiopian stew. But maybe this just reinforces his premise: we all bring our own histories to the table, and this is part of his, and his wife’s.
If you haven’t had this dish before, then you’re in for a treat. I adore this spicy, intensely flavorful Ethopian stew. Like Samuelsson says, it’s a great dish to make ahead and reheat later.
I’ve always said that in America—where you have access to the highest quality ingredients and great cooking supplies—you can often make ethnic food that actually tastes better than it does in its native country. Doro we’t, the spicy chicken stew that is the national dish of Ethiopia, proves my point. My wife, Maya, has mastered the dish, which her mom and sisters taught her to make, and she prepares it whenever we have guests. She treks across Central Park to her favorite Puerto Rican butcher on East 111th Street to pick out organic chicken legs. Back home, she removes the skin and rinses the legs with lemon water, following every step of the recipe meticulously. Soon, our whole house is filled with the aroma of doro we’t. For a traditional Ethiopian meal, serve doro we’t with injera bread, or give it an international flair by accompanying it with couscous or steamed rice. Whichever way, it’s a wonderful dish you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again (see Tip).
1/4 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
5 red onions, finely chopped
One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons berbere
8 skinless chicken legs
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons Spiced Butter (see below) or unsalted butter
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry red wine
1 pound collard greens finely shredded
4 peeled hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup cottage cheese, 4% milk fat
1 Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over low heat. Add the garlic, onions, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes. Add the tomato paste and berbere and cook for another 15 minutes.
2 Season the chicken legs with the cardamom and salt. Add the chicken to the sauce, along with the spiced butter, chicken stock, and wine. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour.
3 In a separate pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the collard greens and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the greens with a slotted spoon and transfer to the chicken stew. Serve with the hard-boiled eggs and cottage cheese on the side.
You can make a double batch of doro we’t and freeze the extra. Like any good stew, it will reheat beautifully. I also make extra sauce and toss it with cooked pasta for a quick weekday meal.
makes 1 1/2 cups
If there’s one thing that Americans can take away from the cooking of my native Ethiopia, it’s nit’ir qibe, the clarified spiced butter that serves as the basis of most Ethiopian food. I keep a supply in the freezer to add instant flavor and aroma to roasted vegetables, fish, or meat. Because the solids are removed from clarified butter, it won’t burn as easily as regular butter, so you can cook with it over really high heat.
1 pound unsalted butter
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
One 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 thyme sprigs
1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. As foam rises to the top, skim it off and discard it. Continue cooking, without letting the butter brown, until no more foam appears. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, fenugreek seeds, cumin, cardamom seeds, oregano, turmeric, and thyme and continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Remove from the heat and let stand until the spices settle, about 40 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve before using.
Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
For the tagine, mix together the cumin, turmeric, ras-el-hanout, saffron strands and 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil until well combined. Add the goat meat to the marinade and mix to coat the meat, then set aside to marinate for as long as possible (chill in the fridge if marinating for more than 30 minutes).
Heat the remaining oil in a large flameproof casserole over a medium to high heat. Fry the onion, garlic, chillies and ginger for 2-3 minutes, or until just softened. Add the marinated goat meat and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until browned on all sides.
Add the cinnamon stick, tinned tomatoes and honey and mix well. Pour in 200ml/7fl oz water and bring the mixture to the boil, then add the apricots and preserved lemon and mix well. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering, and simmer for 45-60 minutes, or until the goat is tender and the sauce has thickened, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Just before serving, stir in the chopped pistachios and herbs.
Meanwhile, for the couscous, heat the butter in a frying pan with a tight-fitting lid over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add the couscous and stir-fry until golden-brown all over.
Pour in 400ml/14fl oz water, mix well, and remove the pan from the heat. Cover tightly with the lid or a sheet of aluminium foil and set aside to steam for 5 minutes. Fluff up the steamed couscous with a fork, then cover once more and steam for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the nuts, apricots, preserved lemon, herbs and lemon juice until well combined. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To serve, pile the toasted nut couscous into the centre of 4 serving plates, then ladle the tagine on top.
Moroccan spiced lamb and couscous Recommended Taste
Try our Moroccan spiced lamb and couscous for a delicious versatile meal that's easy on the purse.
500g lamb leg steaks, cut into 2cm pieces
1 tablespoon Moroccan seasoning
1 brown onion, halved, thinly sliced
400g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
2 teaspoons Massel chicken style stock powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
Fresh coriander leaves, to serve
Place lamb and seasoning in a bowl. Toss to coat. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion for 5 minutes or until softened. Transfer to a plate. Cover to keep warm. Increase heat to medium-high. Heat remaining oil in pan. Cook lamb, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned and just cooked through. Remove pan from heat.
Add chickpeas, currants, couscous, stock powder, boiling water and onion. Stir to combine. Cover. Cook over low heat for 5 to 7 minutes or liquid has absorbed. Stir with a fork to separate grains. Stir through chopped coriander. Top with almonds and coriander. Serve.
It is happening again. I am craving veggies. It&rsquos a good thing &ndash not every day I actually want vegetables &ndash like wanting chocolate or a coffee. It&rsquos a revelation to actually be in control of what you put into your body&hellip
This recipe of Spiced Vegetables is an amazing side dish. Believe me you will have this incredible smell of coconut, star anise, vanilla and cinnamon roaming in your house for the whole day! And best of it all &ndash you can add any vegetables you like! This is pretty much a vegetarian&rsquos dream recipe.
The best thing about this recipe is that it combines two of my favorite ways to cook veggies &ndash roasting and cooking in coconut milk. By roasting the vegetable first, they turn out caramelized, soft and deep with flavor. Then, it gets smothered with a coconut milk, vanilla & cinnamon cooked milk. Heaven&hellip
I thought the combination of the naturally sweet butternut with sweet potato would be a good match with the creaminess of the coconut milk. And it is, yes &ndash a very good match.
It is the perfect side dish for a classy roast at your special person&rsquos house. Everyone should have a special person. If that person ever invites you, you take this special person&rsquos Spiced Vegetables, ok? Have fun!
Spiced and Steamed Couscous with Brown Butter - Recipes
In Algeria, there are a wealth of terms for a variety of hard wheat products or prepared dishes, in the form of couscous or not. Fine semolina is also used for making baghrīr and ghrāyf , a crêpe made with yeast, butter, and sugar and one made with melted butter and eggs, respectively. Algerians also have different names for different couscous dishes such as būfawar or burkūkis , a little semolina ball the same as muḥammaṣ and maghribiyya . Among black Africans of southern Algeria, these large couscous grains are called barbūsha . Bazīn is a dough made from fine hard wheat semolina or barley, similar to the Tunisian dish except it is not leavened. Diyūl , trīd , , and rishta are various terms for a variety of semolina pastry doughs or pasta secca . Shakhshūkha al-Bisakra is the name of a lasagna dough made from fine semolina, water, and salt. Dashīsha farīk is a soup made of semolina of hard wheat and far īk . There are several preparations known as dashīsha , usually a kind of soup. The famous ḥarīra , a semolina soup is also found in Algeria. Dishes that carry the descriptive shaṭīṭḥa are preparations highly spiced with hot red chiles.
The Algerian style of couscous, in its simplest form, is made of fine and medium semolina steamed over water and mixed with melted butter or samna . Algerians make couscous a little bit differently from Tunisians. Tunisians like medium-size grains of couscous and Algerians prefer them fine. The Algerians mix butter and cinnamon into the couscous while Tunisians, especially Jewish cooks, might use olive oil. The couscous is steamed two or three times and butter and cinnamon are rolled into it each time.
There are also big differences between the prepared couscous of northern Algeria and among the peoples of the Ahaggar in southern Algeria. In the Ahaggar, they often make couscous with a mixture of soft wheat, rye, and barley, while in the north it is strictly semolina of hard wheat. The couscous of northern Algeria is often called ṭacām (literally meaning "food," showing the importance of couscous in daily life), a term rarely used in southern Algeria.
This recipe for couscous came about in a somewhat strange way. In the early 1990s, I was forced to cancel my research trip to Algeria previously organized by my friend Nacim Zeghlache, owing to political turmoil. In its place Nacim had the idea of concocting an Algerian gastronomic feast with authentic dishes to be cooked at my house. In my kitchen, Nacim, who is from Sétif, got together with another Algerian, Abdou Ouahab, who is from Tlemcen. Both men are very good cooks, which at first glance might seem strange for Muslim men. But it is easily and amusingly explained. Many Muslim men came to America originally for university studies, and they so missed their mothers' cooking that they learned to cook by telephone--one hand on the frying pan and the other long-distance to mom. Little did I realize how different and contested the making of couscous is even within Algeria.
When he was growing up, Nacim's family kept three rooms for the making of couscous grains. The family's favorite kind of wheat for couscous was white wheat formed into minuscule grains of couscous, although Nacim's father, and the older generation in general, prefer the whole wheat couscous. Nacim and Abdou made the couscous with my writing notes and refereeing as the two cooks constantly fought over the right way to make it. So, is this couscous from Sétif or Tlemcen? It's a compromise that will make you very happy, if the same cannot be said for my Algerian friends.
Before proceeding, read about preparing couscous.
Yield: Makes 12 servings
Preparation Time: 5 hours in all
1. Place half the couscous on a platter or earthenware dish with shallow sides. (You could also use a large aluminum roasting pan, the kind you would use to roast a turkey.) Spread the couscous around and begin moistening with the warm salted water a little at a time until all of the water is used. Do not pour the water in all at once. Every time you add water rub it into the grains, breaking up any lumps. You may or may not need all of the salted water. Use up to 1 cup at first, working the grains with your fingers to separate and moisten them evenly. Work in a circular, rotating motion, constantly raking and forming them into small marble shapes of soft dough. Rake with one hand and, with the other rub them into smaller pellets about 3 millimeters in diameter. If the mixture becomes too wet, add a little dry couscous and start again. Continue in this manner, adding more couscous and water, until all the grains are moistened. The couscous should be evenly wet, not soggy, and even-sized. If necessary, shake the couscous through a large-holed, flat, and high-sided sieve, breaking up large pellets with one hand. You may want to sieve two or three times to make sure that each pellet is individual, although the same can be achieved by properly raking and rubbing with your fingers.
2. Arrange the couscous on a large white dish towel or a section of a sheet and dry for 1 to 2 hours (depending on the humidity in the air). Using your fingers, brush the little pellets of semolina with some olive oil so they are all coated. Cut a piece of cheesecloth and with it cover the holes on the bottom of the couscousiere and up the sides. The cheesecloth is not used to keep the couscous from falling through--it won't--but to facilitate transferring it during the several drying processes. Transfer the couscous to the top portion of the couscousiere . Set aside until needed.
3. In the bottom of the couscousiere , heat the olive oil over medium heat, then cook the onions until soft and golden, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lamb and brown on all sides for 15 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, cayenne, salt, and pepper and mix well. Pour in the cold water and drained chickpeas, bring to a boil over high heat, and add the turnip. Reduce the heat a little to medium-high, so that the top of the bubbling broth is about 1 inch below the rim of the pot. After 20 minutes, add the carrots and keep at a boil. Add the green beans and zucchini 20 minutes after you put the carrots in.
4. Place the top part of the couscousiere on top of the bottom vessel. You do not need to cover it. Seal the two together with a rope made of flour and water (called the qufila in Arabic). Mix 1/2 cup flour together with enough water to roll it out as you would play dough. (Some couscousiere fit tight enough so that you need not make a seal. If you have improvised a couscoussiere with a pot and a colander, then you should make the seal.) You may have to steam the couscous in two batches. Steam for 50 minutes and then remove to an aluminum roasting pan and rub together with your hands, breaking up lumps, so all the grains are separate.
5. Return the couscous to the couscousiere to cook until the couscous is tender, another 50 minutes, adding water to the broth if you feel it is too thick and evaporated. Repeat the rubbing process again and for every batch you need to cook. At this point the lamb should be tender, almost falling off the bone. Turn the heat off, check the seasoning, and leave the broth in the pot.
6. Transfer the couscous to the aluminum pan and fold the butter into the couscous. Once the butter is melted, rub all the couscous together between the palms of your hands until everything is glistening. Mound the couscous attractively in a large serving bowl or platter. When diners serve themselves, have each person place three ladlefuls of couscous into a bowl. Top with meat and vegetables and two to three ladlefuls of broth. Add a teaspoon of harisa if desired and let the bowl sit to absorb some broth before eating. In Tlemcen they like their couscous to be swimming in broth.