Last weekend my and husband went to Morocco for a long weekend trip. We went to Tangier in north. Will do a separate post about that soon. The food was as expected amazing. Their couscous, tagines, street food and best of all, their freshly squeezed orange juice was just out of this world delicious. I must have drank 2 glasses of orange juice for 4 days!!
Since I bought special spice mix for tagines and the spice Ras el Hanout in Tangier, I was inspired to cook something Moroccan. Luckily, I have a great cookbook at home by Lesley Mackley called The Book of North African Cooking. It is an old cookbook published in 1998 which I bought from our local library, and has some amazing recipes. One of my favorite recipes in this cookbook is Moroccan Couscous.
Being inspired by Helene, I wanted to take on the cookbook challenge and try out this recipe. This will be my first cookbook challenge, which is basically where you plan to cook a recipe from one of your cookbooks. Now you can challenge yourself and cook a new recipe every day, week or month. We will see how good I will be in following this routine but will give it a try now.
Moroccan couscous is a great recipe for how to make couscous from scratch and includes a beef tagine. According to this cookbook, traditionally seven vegetables are used in this dish. Since I did not have all the ingredients requested in the recipe, I had to improvise a little. Will write down the recipe here as well as the changes that I did while cooking this dish. Following the original recipe it will serve at least 6.
1 kg trimmed lamb cut into pieces (I used 300 g beef)
2 onions, chopped
55 g chickpeas, soaked overnight (I used canned butter beans)
1 tsp ground ginger
salt & pepper
pinch saffron thread (I skipped this)
4 small turnips in large pieces (I used 4 potatoes instead)
2 small carrots in small pieces
450 g regular couscous (I used instant couscous)
25 g smen or butter, melted
a little rosewater ( I didn't have)
55 g raisins
4 medium courgettes, halved length ways
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp each chopped fresh coriander and parsley (I used dried herbs)
Spices: I used 1 tsp of the tagine mix as well as 1 tbsp of Ras el Hanout mix.
1- Place the meat, with onions and chickpeas in a large stockpot. Stir in the ginger, saffron and 1 tsp pepper. Cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Add turnips and carrots.
Since I did not use exactly the same ingredients I changed the way to cook slightly. I boiled the meat separately and seared it and then added the vegetables.
2- Place the couscous in a large bowl. Dissolve 1 tsp salt in 150 ml water and sprinkle over the couscous. Stir with your fingers and break up any lumps. Place it over the stockpot with the simmering stew. Steam, covered, for 20 minutes. Then, turn the couscous onto a large earthenware dish and sprinkle with little salted water. Lightly rub in the melted smen or butter and rosewater and put the couscous back into the bowl and place it over the cooking stew.
Since I used instant couscous, I followed the recipe on the package. For 3 persons, I used 1 cup of couscous for each person and added 2 cups of boiling water as well as 1,5 cup of the simmering stock from the stew.
3- Add raisins, courgettes, squash tomatoes, salt, coriander and parsley to the simmering stew then replace the couscous over the pot. Steam for a further 30 minutes, occasionally fluffing the couscous grains with a fork.
I added my vegetables earlier, but added at this point the raisins and the butter beans as well as the herbs.
4- To serve, pile the couscous onto a large earthenware serving dish. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat and vegetables to the center of the dish. Pour over some of the broth.
Traditionally couscous is eaten from a big earthenware dish by everyone with their hands. I used a normal plate to serve the couscous individually for each person. Garnished it with basil in lack of any other fresh herbs.