The idea was to take a picture of a sumptuously-arranged platter of couscous before it was put on the table for serving. But with various distractions going on around me I only managed to take a quick pic after half of it had already made its way onto people’s plates. This is what it looked like.
And here’s one way of cooking it.
1 large onion, diced
3 tblsp tomato purée
1kg chicken (I use thigh fillets but doesn’t have to be)
2 litres stock
Vegetables – choice of potatoes, turnips, carrots, squash/pumpkin, courgettes, cauliflower, chick peas
Couscous spices, salt & pepper, ginger, turmeric
6 hard boiled eggs
1 large onion, sliced
Couscous, 500g packet
Rosewater for sprinkling
- Fry the diced onion, tomato purée, chicken and spices in oil, keep stirring and cook uncovered for about 15 mins.
- Add the stock, bring it to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 mins.
- Add the potatoes and turnips, and after about 10 minutes the carrots, squash, courgettes, cauliflower and chickpeas. Simmer for a further 15 mins.
- While the sauce simmers initially for about 20 mins, in the meantime fry the sliced onion in butter/oil/ghee (according to preference) and put to one side. Also boil and peel the eggs.
- While the vegetables later simmer in the sauce make the couscous.
Couscous grain: prepare according to the instructions on the packet. Once it’s ready, add some liquid from the meat and vegetables and work it through with a fork, separating the granules as you go. If required, add a sprinkling of rosewater.
Vegetables: the ones most often added are potatoes, carrots, courgettes, squash/pumpkin and chickpeas; cauliflower and turnips less so.
Preparation: peel the carrots and turnips, top and tail them – also top and tail the courgettes – but don’t chop them up small, either leave them whole or, if they’re particularly large you could halve/quarter them. For smaller potatoes (peeled) chop them in half, cut larger ones into quarters. Dice the squash/pumpkin.
Serving: once it’s all done, place the couscous in a mound on a large platter and arrange the chicken and vegetables on top. Serve the fried onions and boiled eggs in separate dishes. Also, the chick peas could be served as a separate option rather than being added to the sauce. And depending on how much liquid you end up with, you could just pour it all over the chicken and vegetables, or alternatively you could also serve some separately in a jug for pouring.
Couscous spices: I happen to have a father who mixes them up (makes a mean mix) so I don’t really know how easy it is to find in the shops. But I just did a quick Google search and found this http://www.amazon.com/Couscous-Spice-Mix-2-0-Zamouri/dp/B000FVOPW8 which lists the mix as a blend of cumin, ginger, turmeric, paprika ‘and other spices’.
If you do find a ready-made spice mix you could always add to it yourself according to taste (I like adding ginger and turmeric).
Origins of this recipe: it’s partly literally like my grandma used to make – my father was born in North Africa (Tripoli) and he and my Dutch mother make a great couscous-cooking team.
So I’ve combined what they taught me with other suggestions I’ve come across to create the recipe above. Hope you like it.